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Pentecost : Year: A

Acts 21-11; 1 Cor 12.3b-7, 12-13, Jn 20.19-23


Generous Father

I observed the father of a lad giving him a Dollar just before entering the Church. I asked him why he gave money to the lad before entering the Church? He told me that the child is trained to be generous towards God and people. I was impressed and was appreciative of the attitude of the father.

Toy and a Box of Manure
There is a story of identical twins. One was a hope-filled optimist. "Everything is coming up roses!" he would say. The other twin was a sad and hopeless pessimist. He thought that Murphy, as in Murphy's Law, was an optimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local psychologist.

He suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins' personalities. "On their next birthday, put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford and give the optimist a box of manure."

The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results. When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, "I don't like the color of this computer... I'll bet this calculator will break... I don't like the game... I know someone who's got a bigger toy car than this..."

Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the garden. He was giggling. "You can't fool me! Where there's this much manure, there's got to be a Rose!"

Pessimist Disciples
The event of Pentecost was to fill the pessimist disciples with the Spirit of courage and joy. In our life there are so many things that happen. We tend to take them simply without analyzing their importance to us. At times we are so accustomed that we do not even think that they are from God. Are we filled with the hope of the Resurrected Lord? Or do we worry about things that matter only concerning our material life? Are joyful? Or do we make things sadder as we pass through them?

Full of Mystery
There are events so wonderful, and so full of mystery, that ordinary language cannot describe them. Such was the Pentecost event which we celebrate today. In our first reading Luke, the writer, uses symbols to describe something beyond the power of words to portray. The coming of God’s Spirit, he writes, was “like a strong driving wind.” “Tongues as of fire” rested on these first Christians, who suddenly received power “to speak in different tongues.” These three symbols – wind, fire, tongues – are not arbitrary. Each tells us something about God and his mysterious work in the world.

Wind
The word used by Luke is used elsewhere in Scripture to designate a person’s “breath” or “spirit.” (Cf. Gen 2.7; Acts 17.25) At birth breathing begins. At death it ceases. The coming of God’s Spirit is said to have been “like wind” because the Spirit is the Church’s breath. Before the coming of this Spirit-breath, the Church’s life was something like that of an unborn child in the womb. Only with the coming of this “strong driving wind” did the Church receive the fullness of divine life.

This divine breath gives the Church an astonishing power of self-renewal. Again and again in history the Church has become so corrupt through the sins of its members that people have predicted its imminent demise. Yet time and again the Church has risen, through the power of this divine Spirit-breath, renewed and purified. For this recurring phenomenon there is but one possible explanation the fact that the Church lives not from its own strength, and certainly not from the strength of its members, but from the continual in-breathing of God’s Spirit, who is the Church’s life-breath.

Fire
When breathing stops, so does body heat. Deep within the collective soul of this great family of God which we call the Catholic Church is the fire of the world’s greatest love. the unbounded love of God for all he has made. That is the secret of the Church’s magnetism. People in the Church who are cold, hard-hearted, always ready to criticize, to complain, and block the warmth of that love. They act not as heat conveyers, but as heat shields. Which are you about the Spirit’s fire? Are you a heat conveyer, or a heat shield?

Fire warms because it burns. If combustible material is nearby, fire spreads rapidly. Christianity, it has been said, cannot be taught. It must be caught. Are you burning with that fire? Are you handing it on to others?

Fire also gives light. God sent his Son into a dark world to be the world’s light. This light shines today through God’s continual gift of his Spirit to his Church and to each of its members. He wants us to serve as lenses or prisms of that light. “Your light must shine before others,” Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5.16). And in John’s gospel Jesus warns. “Bad people all hate the light and avoid it, for fear that their practices should be shown up. The honest person comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that God is in all he does” (Jn 3.20f).

When we fear God’s light, we need to ask God burns away whatever causes us to shun the light, whatever stands in the way of our spreading the light, fire, and warmth of his Holy Spirit.

The Tongues
The first Christians spoke different languages to symbolize the Church’s work through history. proclaiming to all peoples, in all languages, the wonderful truth of God.

  •  That God is, that he is real;

  • That he is a God of love, who looks for a response of love – for himself, and for our sisters and brothers;

  • That God has made us for himself, to serve, love, and praise him here on earth, to be happy with him forever in heaven;

  • That he is the God of the impossible, who can do for us what we can never do for ourselves. fit us for life with him, here and in eternity.

 

The Strength of the Spirit
That we are Christians in a land undreamed of by anyone on that first day of Pentecost is proof that the Spirit’s “strong driving wind” did not blow in vain. Those first touched by that wind were blown into places, and situations, they never dreamed of. Even those who never left Jerusalem found their lives utterly changed.

The Power of the Spirit
This same wind of the Spirit is blowing in the Church today. Is it blowing in your life? Or are you afraid of that wind – of what it might do to you, and where it might blow you? Cast aside fear. The wind of God’s Spirit, like the winds of the sky, blows from different directions. But in the end this wind blows all who are driven by it to the same place. The wind of God Spirit blows us home – home to God.

The Spirit of Love, Peace, Patience
The Spirit of the Lord has given us the spirit of love, truth, joy, peace, patience, generosity, kindness, goodness, self-control and humility. We need to bear witness to them. Then perhaps we could say boldly that we are the children of God and children of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

“(The laity) works for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven … (making) Christ known to others especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope, and charity (Lumen gentium, 31). “The laity is called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth.”

God won’t ask…
There are people here who are doing those things every day. Are you? One day the Lord will examine us about how we have responded to the call to be his messengers to others. Here, ahead of time, are some of the questions in that examination.

God won’t ask what kind of car you drove; he’ll ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.

God won’t ask the area and beauty of your house; he’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your cupboard; he’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.

God won’t ask what your highest salary was; he’ll ask if you cut corners to obtain it.

God won’t ask what your job title was; he’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

God won’t ask how many friends you had; he’ll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived; he’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won’t ask about the color of your skin; he’ll ask about the content of your character.

The testimony of deeds before words is powerful. You probably know the saying. “What you are speaks so loud that I can’t hear what you say.” Words are cheap and our world is inundated by words. People today are more impressed by deeds than by words.

Practical Conclusion
Bearing witness to Jesus Christ in daily life is difficult. If you doubt that, it probably means that you have never seriously tried it for any extended period. With our own resources alone, the task is impossible. But we are not alone. We have an unseen companion in the missionary task, the same divine master and Lord who is saying to us right now, as he said to that little band of weak sinners and doubters on a Galilean hilltop two thousand years ago. “Behold I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


Ascension of the Lord : Year: A

Acts 1.1-11; Eph 1.17-23; Mt 28.16-20


The Sea and the Desert
"The sea was much better," the traveler complained. "Whenever I got tired it at least had its currents to push me forward on my journey but you," he looked at the vast desert surrounding him, "you are of no help."

He went down on his knees, dead tired. When his breaths restored back to normalcy, a while later, he heard the desert's voice.

"I agree. I am of no help like the sea and thus I often depress people. But do you really think people will remember you for crossing the sea? Never! For the sea doesn't allow you to leave any mark. I, on the contrary, do. Thus, if you cross me, I swear, you will in turn immortalize yourself with the imprints you leave over me!"

The traveler got the essence and got up to walk on. "It's always about the imprints," his heart echoed.

Jesus Imprints

"He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight" (Acts 1.9). Jesus left lasting imprints on the lives of the Apostles. That is why they were all filled with enthusiasm for the message of Christ. He made an impression, not like other people, his impression made through his death and resurrection. His impression is a tough reality, but always helpful to all those who were with him and want to be with him.

God’s Traces

We always find difficult to find God’s traces. The best way to describe His existence is to say that God was "present." This nature of God echoes the Words of Yahweh and Jesus who both claimed to be, "I am." (Ex 3.14; Jn 8.58, 18.5; Rev 1.8, 22.13) "I am" means "I am present; I am here!" In the case of God the Father, it can also mean, "While you may not see Me, I am here. I am present."

Now a days it is so difficult to convince people of God’s presence, and it is so essential to their life yet the difficulty remains a stark reality.

Faith Experience

A girl approached me and said, father, please pray that I may not lose my faith. I said, “Dear, just pray and you will not lose it”. She said to me, “father, I am in great trouble. My boyfriend whom I loved has left me, and I feel it is not worth living in this world”. I told her that she might get a better boy. What else could I say? “Is it true father?” “Yes,” I said, “just pray and keep a watch and you will see God will help you.” It happened in a month. She was all happy, because she got another one, much better than the previous one.

The Promise

Faith works, but it makes us wait and always takes us through a tough path. The Gospel of John tells us, "As the Father has life in Himself, He has granted the Son (the Word) to have life in Himself." (Jn 5.26). "In Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." (Col 1.19,2.9) Jesus said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his work. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me..." (Jn 14.9- 11)

St. Paul affirmed our capability of knowing the nature of God when he stated, "Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made. So they are without excuse." (Rm 1.20)

Looking Up

When we celebrate Ascension of our Blessed Lord into heaven, we need to look up, means we need to look for the things to come. This expectation should keep us always alive. Often in this modern world people always tend to look for the material things, that they need immediately. There is a strong tendency to get everything we need and we want them immediately. Not necessarily this should be our approach.

Forgetting the Roots

I was watching a programme on 27th April, conducted by Burkha Datt, in NDTV by name “affluence mania”. Leading industrialists and CEO’s was participating in this programme. They were responding to questions put by the viewers, who were convinced that they need to enjoy life, without much reference to their parents and grandparents. They were of the opinion that life is short and good and we need to make best of it with regard to spending the money one has earned. Then, what about the moral values? Of course some of them insisted that they were at terrible at stake.

Losing Ground

I am just reading today’s news paper (29/4/2004 – DNA) report of one Josef Fritzl, Austrian, 70 years old, who had 7 children from his own daughter Elizabeth. The neighbours of this man are hanging their heads in total shame. He had imprisoned his daughter in 1984, drugged her and kept her for almost 20 years in the basement of his home and molested her, abused her. What a shame and cruel reality of this modern world. She must have undergone the tortures of hell in the hands of her own father. This is what we say our morals are at stake when we do not see beyond the reality of the world.

Practical Conclusion

Ascension is looking forward with hope of great joy. Let us celebrate it with due reverence to life, to the neighbour and to the world to come where we will have our rooms as he has gone before us to prepare one for us.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


5th Sunday of Easter : Year: A

Acts 6.1-7; 1Peter 2.4-9; Jn 14.1-12


I will Give Myself
It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, "What will you give me if I release you?" "The half of my wealth," was his reply. "And if I release your children?" "Everything I possess." "And if I release your wife?" "Your Majesty, I will give myself." Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn't Cyrus a handsome man!" With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, "I didn't notice. I could only keep my eyes on you- -the one who was willing to give himself for me."

Sacrifice
A woman, carrying her baby on her back, was trapped by a prairie fire. As she looked about, she realized there was no way of escape. Hurriedly she took the baby off her back and began digging a hole in the earth with her bare hands. She then placed her child into it and covered the child with her body. Later the woman was found dead, but the child was saved.

The Centre Holds

The gospel presents Jesus as the guide in life, as the ‘way, truth and life’. The Christian centre is the person of Christ. Our work for Jesus and our love for people, no matter what our calling in life, flow from this. Mother Teresa was once asked why she did what she did, and she simply said ‘for Jesus’. This centre always holds, it cannot be unhinged. It is a deeply personal relationship. we are led by Jesus ‘one by one’, known by name, not as just one of a group. We follow him as one we know, not a stranger. Studying his life and times, getting to know the places and events of his life, becoming familiar with the gospels and getting to know him in the heart in prayer is the way of keeping our centre of conviction and motivation strong. As this happens freedom grows and we begin to find him everywhere.

The Early Church

To the extent that the Acts of the Apostles relates an idealized memory of how the earliest Church was established and grew, it provides interesting milestones of ecclesiastical evolution. Only slightly less important to Church evolution than the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and disciples at Pentecost was the fairly quick evolution from a Jewish Church to a Gentile (i.e., Non-Jewish) Church over only a few decades. But the catalyst of that shift from Jewish to Gentile was the remarkable effectiveness with which the Gospel spread and the consequent Church membership increased. The small number of original disciples who knew Jesus well at his death, burial, and resurrection increased exponentially beginning with the Church’s public launch at Pentecost. In last Sunday’s text from Acts, the summary note was made that “about three thousand” were baptized on that Pentecost Day. Indeed, that number was merely an indicator of the Church’s growth rate not only then but consistently over the years, decades and centuries to come. Today’s text recalls the evolution of specialized ministries which the Gospel community found necessary because of great growth. The intimate fellowship which Jesus’ original disciples enjoyed would be challenged by sheer numbers. New needs arose in that expanding Church to what 20th Century Christians call “social ministries” which are indicated in Acts by the care for widows and “the daily distribution.” Remember that those most idealistic earliest Christians were said to have “held all property in common” (see Acts 2.44) in a very simple sort of communal socialism. Thus, each individual and household would have received daily rations of food and supplies. But, the primary task of the apostles since Pentecost had become the practical and urgent preaching of God’s Word. It fell to the Twelve to reorganize the community and to divide up ministries and tasks. The Church’s first major change was from being a very small community to becoming an ever-enlarging community, sort of like moving from a domestic family to a regional society. True then and true still today. “To live is to change; to live well is to change greatly!” (Attributed to John Henry Cardinal Newman, 19th Century British Churchman).

The Church is at her wisest when she learns how to change graciously, compassionately and intelligently. Many who embrace their religious faith actually forget how to change, and demonstrate that forgetfulness when they resist any and all good and healthy – and necessary! – change. The institution of the ministry of deacons was an example of effective and reasonable change. Note, too, that the setting of this change was in the Jerusalem Church, and that “even a large group of priests” had come to be involved in the Gospel community. These “priests” would have been Temple priests in Jerusalem for the Christian “presbyterate” would not be so visible until the apostles likewise needed assistance in presiding over the liturgical assembly.

Peter’s Guidance

Our weekly lesson from 1st Peter is a section which precedes last week’s lesson. It harkens back to the Old Testament rationale by which God’s Chosen People, the Israelites recently freed from Egyptian slavery, were instructed by God to be holy just as God was holy. Hence, their relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had become a very, very different relationship from what all other Old Testament era ethnic groups and religions typically had with their divinities. (Note. the Hebrew word kadosh translates as “holy” which literally means “different from”). Peter reminded the Gentile Christians of Asia Minor that just as the ancient Israelites had been called to be holy, so too they as new Christians were likewise and just as much expected by God to live a vocation to holiness. Peter cited the text from Exodus 19.6 which was a practical, constitutional statement by God about God’s People. ‘You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own ...” These words are even used in the sacred Eucharistic liturgy to remind our assembly in our own day of the dignity of the Christian Vocation. Thus, for the audience of 1st Peter, in an era when persecution was not unusual but was often dangerous, the Gospel community was a veritable home for the homeless, i.e., a safe community of Gospel fellowship in a society which was very often and very easily intimidated by and hostile to the Gospel’s genuine and profound goodness and love, justice and peace.

The Last Supper

The Gospel narrative today is again not a Resurrection appearance of Jesus, but rather part of John’s Gospel memory of the short hours just at the end of the Last Supper. John seems to presume that we know the supper details (bread, wine, blessing) and supplies to us instead a memory of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. After the example of foot-washing was explained as a metaphor for mutual service, he proceeded to teach and explain. These dozen verses show Jesus trying to encourage and support the Eleven and whoever is with them by first assuring them of “a place for you” in the kingdom. Thomas, famous a few days later for his scepticism about Jesus’ Resurrection, admitted the fearful but private worry in each of them with “We do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Philip too was a disciple willing to risk embarrassment by suggesting that they have not really “seen” the Father but that they are willing to be shown.

Practical Conclusion

Jesus made significant use of metaphor as he provided them a glimpse of the profound mystery of the Divine Presence, of his Christological importance, and of the hope he had tried to instil in them. Jesus’ “I am the way, the truth, and the life...” was a huge summary of the reality of God’s Presence and of his essential oneness with God. “... no one comes to the Father except through me” seems addressed somewhat narrowly to those in the room with him. Thus, the “no one” becomes more strictly “on one among you” because they have already been given access to God, whether or not they appreciate it. Seemingly, Philip fails to the test of appreciation, at least that night. That line “no one comes to the Father except through me” has too often been used by literalist Christians to assert exclusion of non-Christians and even other Christians from eternal salvation. Jesus was more reasonably addressing only and principally that small group of the Eleven plus a small number more of disciples. He had no real reason to be talking explicitly to us today or against non-believers though history over the centuries. After all, he had just said that in his Father’s house there are many (!) dwelling places. Why would he assert the greatest hope only moments later to restrict that to the self-righteous? Logic should always paint Jesus as Saviour in the business of successfully saving every one and excluding no one! Let God be the judge! Let us be the best examples possible of the community which has experienced and embraced God’s love! Let us imitate Jesus’ generosity and love of others just as we profess and hope for his generosity and love for ourselves!

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


4th Sunday of Easter : Year: A

Acts 2.42-47; Ps 23; 1 Pet 2.19-25; Jn 10.1-10


The Shepherd saves them
It is said that in the Highlands of Scotland, a sheep would often wander off into the rocks and get into places that they couldn't get out of. The grass on these mountains is very sweet and the sheep like it, and they will jump down ten or twelve feet, and then they can't jump back again, and the shepherd hears them bleating in distress. They may be there for days, until they have eaten all the grass. The shepherd will wait until they are so faint they cannot stand, and then they will put a rope around him, and he will go over and pull that sheep up out of the jaws of death. "Why don't they go down there when the sheep first gets there?" I asked. "Ah!" He said, "they are so very foolish they would dash right over the precipice and be killed if they did!" And that is the way with men; they won't go back to God till they have no friends and have lost everything. If you are a wanderer I tell you that the Good Shepherd will bring you back the moment you have given up trying to save yourself and are willing to let Him save you His own way.

God is Shepherd

Today is the Good Shepherd Sunday; a day in which the church recalls the relationship between God and his people as described in the image of Shepherd and Sheep. In Ezekiel 34, God addresses the leaders of Israel as shepherd and took the responsibility of caring for the sheep, and became the shepherd of the flock of his people. In Psalm 23 David now addresses him as the Shepherd of his people. In John 10.11 Jesus addresses himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. In today’s gospel reading Jesus tells his followers, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow.”

Jesus the Shepherd

Jesus is obviously our shepherd, there is no doubt about it but there can be a lot of doubt about whether we are the kind of sheep that we ought to be. In our reflection we are going to consider the two words Jesus uses to address the sheep of his flock – he hears me and follows me.

The Voice

Hearing the voice of the master or the leader is natural in parent-child relationship. It is a sign of loyalty. Our dogs and cats hear us more than any other person no matter their disposition, they can be silent to the voice of an outsider but the moment they hear the voice of their owner, they jump up. This kind of reaction is proper to the relationship of a father or mother and child. The same also should be true of our relationship with God. In the light of the gospel, if we reach close relationship with God, we would be able to distinguish His voice from the many voices that are urging us to follow them – parents, teachers, doctors, government, coaches, employers, advertisers and marketers – each trying to influence our values and behaviors with their voices.

The Other Voices

The problem with us is that we pay attention to these other voices than the voice of God. We can listen and believe the weather forecaster, the astronomer, the medical doctor and the economist, but when God speaks, we take it for granted. Look at the ease with which we make reference to the speeches of historians and politicians, but pay little or no attention to God’s. One of the signs of parental upbringing is the ability to recall and use the speeches of one’s parents or teachers to buttress speeches as Jesus did. He maintained the culture of his religion by always quoting it (Mt 5.43; 19.4).

They Follow

This brings us to the second thing demanded of the sheep in the gospel reading today, namely, following the Lord. The sheep does not only listen to its shepherd but followed him and his instructions. Listening to God is one thing, but following him is another. We can listen to God without following his words. The problem with Christianity today is that on Sunday so many people come Mass to listen to the voice of God but when the Mass is over, they go home and follow their own conscience, opinions and ways of life with the expression “I have my own life to live the way I want it. This mentality has done more harm than good. But no one who believes in God does things his or her own way. This is what it means to follow Him.

Practical Conclusion

So, it is in following him we prove that he is our shepherd. Believing in him is not enough if it cannot lead us to following him. As it were, the good news today demands of us. (a) ability to keep and practice the Lord’s teachings in the Bible and the teachings of the Church (b) ability to use the light of His teaching to assess the numerous voices trying to influence our values and numerous voices trying to influence our values and behaviors (c) and the ability to draw inference from his word and teachings to buttress our points and arguments.


Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts 2.14, 22-28; 1 Pet 1.17-21; Lk 24.13-35

One Dead – Another Alive

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?”

Life After Death
As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.

Disturbed Disciples
During the weeks after Easter, the church puts us in touch with the first men and women who experienced the risen Jesus in an attempt to deepen our appreciation and understanding of this, the linchpin of our faith. In describing those early believers, Gunther Bornkamm once remarked, “The men and women who encounter the risen Christ in the Easter stories have come to an end of their wisdom. They are alarmed and disturbed by his death, mourners wandering about the grave of the Lord in their helpless love. . . like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, their last hopes are destroyed” (Jesus of Nazareth, Harper and Row, New York. 1960).

Therefore it is erroneous to think that the resurrection narratives can be explained away as a human invention or as a product of wish-fulfillment on the part of Jesus’ disciples. After Jesus’ death, they were at a loss; it was only through their revelatory experiences of the risen Lord that the disciples began to understand the Jesus event as a work of God which forever changed the course of human history. As the early believers explained in today’s first two readings, Jesus was sent according to the set plan and purpose of God; through his dying and his resurrection God has worked miracles, signs and wonders in our midst (Acts). All our faith and hope as believers are centered on this mystery (1 Peter).

The Presence of Christ

In his assessment of the resurrection appearances and of the gospel narratives which have preserved these experiences, Bas Van Jersel suggested that these texts were intended not only to inform would be believers concerning the fact of Jesus-risen but also as an interpretation of his resurrection for the life of the disciple (“The Resurrection of Jesus”, The New Concilium, Herder and herder, New York. 1965). In other words, accounts such as the one recorded in today’s gospel help us to understand that faith in the resurrection is not confined to a past event; nor is it relegated solely to a future moment when we also be raised by God from death. Rather, the resurrection appearances represent the church’s understanding concerning the permanent presence of the risen Lord with us now. How and in what manner do we experience him among us? What are the implications of his presence? How must it influence our faith? Our life style?

Experience of Resurrection

Matthew, in his gospel, told his readers that they would find and experience Jesus in the hungry when they fed them; in the thirsty when they gave a drink of water; in the stranger to whom they gave a welcome; in the naked whom they clothed, in the ill whom they cared for and in the prisoner whom they visited. In another passage, the evangelist assured his contemporaries of an experience of Jesus’ presence whenever and wherever two or three would gather together in prayer (Mt 25.35-36, 18.20). For his part, the fourth evangelist offered the assurance of Jesus’ abiding presence in the gift of the Spirit. Like Jesus, the Spirit would teach the disciples, remind them of his words and works, guide them to the truth and be with them always (Jn 14.16).

In today’s gospel, Luke reminds believers that the ultimate encounter with the permanent presence of the risen Jesus comes in the breaking open of the Word and in the Breaking of the Bread which is the Eucharist.

Proclaimer and Proclaimed

The book of Acts has sometimes been called the account of how the proclaimer became the proclaimed. In Acts, Luke builds a bridge between Jesus. who came in human flesh with a ministry of healing and reconciliation. . . who died on the cross for the salvation of all peoples. . . who rose in victory over death and sin to live forever. . . and the church. whose presence in the world continues to manifest the saving plan and purpose of God in human history. In this excerpted periscope, Peter and the Eleven are portrayed as empowered by the Spirit and intent upon proclaiming the good news of salvation just as Jesus had been endowed with the Spirit when he inaugurated his public ministry (see Lk 4.14-21). Among the Israelites, there was a widespread belief that God had “closed the heavens” and that the Holy Spirit had descended on no one, prophet or leader, since the last of the canonical prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Jerome Crowe, The Acts, Michael Glazier Inc., Wilmington. 1983). Aware of this belief, Luke made it clear in his account of Jesus (Luke) and of the church (Acts) that God rent the heavens and came down (Is 63.19) and has poured out his Spirit on all of humankind (Joel 2.1).

Like the other sermons or discourses in Acts, Peter’s reflects a Lucan hand. A literary technique, popular and well documented in Hellenistic literature, speeches or sermons attributed to key character in a story were actually a careful composition of the author and served a vehicle of the ideas he wished to convey to his readers. Constituting approximately one quarter of the book of Acts, the twenty-four discourses vary in form and content; by incorporating these sermons into Acts, Luke has addressed the missionary apologetic and ecclesial concerns of his readers.

The Sermon

In this particular section of Peter’s Pentecost sermon, Luke defends the manner of Jesus’ ministry and death on the cross as a part of the “set purpose and plan of God” (vs. 23) for our salvation. As Joseph Fitzmyer has explained, Luke focuses on “the in-breaking of divine salvific activity into human history with the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth among mankind.” Everything that happened to Jesus, even his ignominious passion and death, as well as everything that will happen to the church because of its faith in Jesus “is a manifestation of a plan of God to bring about the salvation of human beings who recognize and accept the plan.” (The Gospel According to Luke, Anchor Bible, Vol. 28, Doubleday and Co., New York. 1981). But God’s saving plan did not end on Calvary; indeed God raised Jesus to life thereby breaking the grip of sin and death upon believers.

By citing Psalm 16, Luke drew on the support of the Hebrew scriptures, as the other evangelists and Paul, particularly when the intended audience of the discourse was Jewish (vs. 22). This psalm and others like it (cfr. Ps 22,110,118) were used extensively by the early church in their efforts to present Jesus as the promised Savior and authentic fulfillment of Israel’s messianic hopes. Today its words continue to strike a chord in the hearts of those who understand Jesus as the center and culmination of the two testaments (Old Testament New Testament) of our faith.

Christian Vocation

Someone whose uniqueness distinguishes him/her from the mainstream of human society or whose ideas and values are unsynchronized with those of the general population is often said to “march to the beat of a different drummer.” In his letter to the Christians of Asia Minor the pseudonymous author of 1 Peter encouraged his readers to aspire to a similar description. Having been delivered by Christ from the futility of their former way of life, Christians should subsequently conduct themselves in a worthy manner. More often than not, this required that they cease or forego certain activities while dedicating themselves to a life-style which was consonant with the grace of their Christian vocation.

Abstract God of Plato

Earlier in his letter the author had characterized the life of a person before being redeemed as one dominated by ignorance and inordinate desire (vs. 14). As William Barclay (“Peter,” The Daily Study Bible, The St. Andrew Press, Edinburgh. 1975) explained, the pagan world was suffocated by ignorance, convinced by its philosophers that God was unknowable. “It is hard,” said Plato, “to investigate and find the framer and the father of the universe; and if one did find him, it would be impossible to express him in terms which all could understand.” Aristotle spoke of God as the “supreme cause, by all men dreamed of and by no men known.” Coupled with this burden of frustrated ignorance was an attitude of self-abandon with regard to the senses. Whereas “desperate poverty prevailed at the lower end of the social scale,” the higher echelons were notorious for their “sheer fleshliness.” By their own historians’ accounts, Romans and Greeks were shamelessly indulgent. At one banquet, Emperor Vitellius served two thousand fish, seven thousand birds and thousands of dollars’ worth of peacock’s brains and nightingales tongues. Martial tells of women who had reached their tenth husband; Jerome wrote of a woman married to her twenty-third husband, she being his twenty-first wife. Homosexuality was so common that many no longer considered it aberrant. But believers in Jesus, having been rescued from such godlessness were to live otherwise!

Pilgrims on Earth

In terms reminiscent of the exodus from Egypt, the author of 1 Peter called his readers to be reverent sojourners, faithful to their constant companion on their journey through life, viz. Jesus. By his blood they had been redeemed and through him they had the joy of knowing God. No longer simply the supreme cause who could not be known or understood but only dreamed of, God, the loving Father had revealed himself and his saving plan in the person and mission of Jesus.

Like the recipients of 1 Peter, believers on the brink of the twenty-first century live in societies which are often characterized by interests and values contrary to those of the gospel. This ancient Christian author reminds his readers that their baptismal commitment calls them to center their faith and hope in God (vs. 21) and to “march to the beat of his drum.”

Journey to Emmaus

Like the two disciples making their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, contemporary believers of Jesus live after the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and in the interim between his two advents. Like Cleopas and his companion, we search for the daily experience of Jesus which sustains and strengthens our hope and which inspires our faithful discipleship. In their encounter with the risen Lord, we learn of the manner in which he remains present until his climactic appearance in glory.

Breaking of Bread

In this superb narrative, Luke has provided his readers with a treasure of christological and apologetic insights drawn from the different levels of gospel tradition. At the very basis of the story was the experience of the first witnesses of Jesus, vindicated by God and risen from death to glory. Surrounding that primitive core of gospel kerygma was the ongoing experience of the church in Syrian Antioch in the mid-80s AD. In the almost two generations following Jesus’ death on the cross, the Christians of Antioch had been encountering the risen Lord in the sacramental breaking of the bread. For his part, the evangelist had structured this narrative in a recognizable liturgical pattern. In both word (vs. 27) and sacrament (vs. 30) the risen Lord is made known and communicated to the believing community.

They did not Recognized Him

Notice the motif of delayed recognition which informed this and most of the other resurrection narratives. Initially, the disciples did not recognize Jesus because he was transformed by the glory of his resurrection. Nevertheless, Luke was careful (as were the other evangelists) to underscore the continuity between the Jesus whom the disciples had known during his ministry and the risen Lord whom they were now encountering. He taught them, ate with them and then opens their eyes to the knowledge of his presence.

As Jesus broke open the word for them (“he interpreted for them every passage of Scripture which referred to him” (vs. 27) the disciples’ hearts began to burn within them (vs. 32). They implored him “Stay with us!” (vs. 29). Then, in a manner which recalled his last supper with them before his cross, he took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them; at that point, they came to know him. The searching, hoping fire in their hearts was transformed into recognition and faith.

Luke draws attention to the significance of this moment by declaring, “with that, their eyes were opened” (vs. 31). Opened eyes (a term mentioned eight times in the New Testament, six of which are in Luke-Acts) indicated a deepened understanding of revelation. In this instance, the disciples’ opened eyes meant that they had begun to comprehend the mystery of Jesus, dead, risen and ever present. Jesus’ disappearance at the point of recognition (“he vanished from their sight,” vs. 31) was not a disappointment but yet another signal that the risen Lord would remain forever with his disciples in the breaking of the bread and in the sharing of his word.

Practical Conclusion

The experience of those early disciples is ours at every Eucharistic celebration. With fire in our hearts, the word reveals who he is; in the blessed and broken bread the paschal experience is renewed, We who hear the word and share the bread are nourished and sustained. Jesus lives; he stays with us. Hope and faith are not in vain.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


2nd Sunday of Easter : Year: A

Acts 2.42-47; Psalm 118; 1 Pet 1.3-9; Jn 20.19-31


Mikhail! Christ is Risen
It was May Day, 1990. The place was Moscow's Red Square. "Is it straight, Father?" one Orthodox priest asked another, shifting the heavy, eight-foot crucifix on his shoulder. "Yes," said the other. "It is straight." Together the two priests, along with a group of parishioners holding ropes that steadied the beams of the huge cross, walked the parade route. Before them was passed the official might of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: The usual May Day procession of tanks, missiles, troops, and salutes to the Communist party elite. Behind the tanks surged a giant crowd of protesters, shouting up at Mikhail Gorbachev. "Bread!...Freedom!...Truth!"

As the throng passed directly in front of the Soviet leader standing in his place of honor, the priests hoisted their heavy burden toward the sky. The cross emerged from the crowd. As it did, the figure of Jesus Christ obscured the giant poster faces of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin that provided the backdrop for Gorbachev's reviewing stand. "Mikhail Sergeyevich!" one of the priests shouted, his deep voice cleaving the clamor of the protesters and piercing straight toward the angry Soviet leader. "Mikhail Sergeyevich! Christ is risen!"

Risen Christ and Fearful Disciples
Today’s Gospel narrates the impact of the Risen Christ’s presence on the fearful disciples. In symbolic language typical of St. John, the Gospel tells of Jesus’ greeting, his breathing on the disciples and his imparting of the Holy Spirit with the power to forgive and to retain sins. The story of Jesus’ later appearance to Thomas highlights the merit of those who will not have seen Jesus but will believe in his presence and his teaching. In this way Christians will experience “life” (v.31).

The Acts of the Apostles recalls the simple characteristics of Christian life. prayer and the Eucharistic sacrifice, instruction in the faith, life and possessions in common. This simple sincerity wins the admiration of others.

The Power of the Lord

Psalm 118 rejoices in the presence and the power of the Lord. The Lord protected and saved the just from persecutors. The rejection and apparent failure of the psalmist, comparing himself to a stone discarded by the builders, has been turned by the Lord into success and vindication, a cornerstone.
The Joy
The First Letter of St. Peter speaks of an inheritance that is guaranteed for those reborn as Christians. Even now Christians are filled with a joy that is “indescribable and glorious” (v.8). This joy is capable of bearing the trials of this life, which purify and strengthen faith in our future inheritance eternal life.

The Experience

What is evident from the Gospel text is the emotional impact on the disciples of Jesus’ appearance. “the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” (v20). Our faith is reflected not only in the intellectual content of our belief, but in the experience of the personal presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. We do not see Jesus but we can, and should, experience his presence in our lives. Our faith is not just a guarantee of future happiness; it should also open our minds and hearts now to a real experience of Jesus’ presence.

The Christian way of living

The Acts of the Apostles describes the characteristics of Christian life. of living in and for a community. It is so strong that individual possessions are divided among all members according to need. Prayer, work necessary to sustain basic needs, and the giving and receiving of instruction in the faith are part of the Christian’s daily schedule.

A time of Trials

St. Peter reminds the scattered first Christian communities that they “may have to suffer through various trials” (v.6). The text suggests the durability of faith (which includes the experience of joy) even in the midst of suffering. In this sense the experience of faith is worth more than fire-tested gold. This is certainly the testimony of the first Christian martyrs who were sustained by the experience of a rock-solid faith. The text does not imply a “testing by fire” on the part of God, but the Christian’s sustaining experience of faith even though Christians may have to pass through earthly fire.

Resurrection and Trials

Christians today suffer from reduced expectations. We have come to regard the Christian faith as something like an ointment to be rubbed on in times of need. The faith is reduced to some words of comfort and consolation when there is nothing else to say or to do. It has become a theoretical doctrine, an abstract explanation of ideas.
The center of Christian life is the experience of Jesus Christ. This contact is real, personal and overwhelming. It gives ordinary people a courage and a conviction that they know is worth more than anything they have. It also gives them a real joy that nothing can undermine. We need, as Christians, to have greater expectations; there is a treasure to be found. Christianity is not a present-day palliative for the woes of life, a mere opium for the people; it is the experience of fire within, an unbreakable all-conquering spirit. It is a love that always gives more.

Practical Conclusion

When we consider the Acts of the Apostles’ description of Christian community life one may perhaps think it refers to some strange sect (of which there are many) with its cultish practices disconnected from normal life. We may also think that it is an impossible, impractical ideal of naďve simplicity. Have we become accustomed to a token form of Christian living? What do we think parish life is? Is it inspired by the desire to hold all things in common, to want to live together as Christian brothers and sisters, sharing a common experience of Jesus Christ? Our lives are certainly more complicated than the scattered Christian communities of the first century after Christ, but nothing should impede our desire to live and to build an authentically Christian life in community.

We have the desire to live in communion with others; we know how difficult real, intimate bonds are to achieve and to sustain. We need to re-examine the state of our Christian communion with others, starting with those nearest to us.


Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


Easter Sunday : Year: A
Acts 10.34a, 36-43; Col 3.1-4 (Or 1 Cor 5.6b-8);
Jn 20.1-18; in the afternoon Lk 24.13-35

He is Risen Indeed

Dr. George Sweeting tells of an incident in the early 1920s when Communist leader Nikolai Bukharin was sent from Moscow to Kiev to address an anti-God rally. For an hour he abused and ridiculed the Christian faith until it seemed as if the whole structure of belief was in ruins. Then questions were invited. An Orthodox church priest rose and asked to speak. He turned, faced the people, and gave the Easter greeting, "He is risen!" Instantly the assembly rose to its feet and the reply came back loud and clear, "He is risen indeed!"

Is there Life after Death?
Madonna the great singer, attempted to answer the question of, “Why am I here?” by becoming a diva, confessing, “There were many years when I thought fame, fortune, and public approval would bring me happiness. But one day you wake up and realize they don’t… I still felt something was missing… I wanted to know the meaning of true and lasting happiness and how I could go about finding it.”(The Oprah Magazine, “Oprah talks to Madonna,” January, 2004, 120.)

Others have given up on finding meaning. Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the Seattle grunge band Nirvana, despaired of life at age 27 and committed suicide. Jazz-age cartoonist Ralph Barton also found life to be meaningless, leaving the following suicide note. “I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, and from house to house, visited countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up 24 hours of the day.” Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor (San Bernardino, CA. Here’s Life Publ., 1981).

Pascal, the great French philosopher believed this inner void we all experience can only be filled by God. He states, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which only Jesus Christ can fill.” William R. Bright, Jesus and the Intellectual (San Bernardino, CA. Here’s Life Publ., 1968),If Pascal is right, then we would expect Jesus to not only answer the question of our identity and meaning in this life, but also to give us hope for life after we die.

Can there be meaning, without God? Not according to atheist Bertrand Russell, who wrote, “Unless you assume a god, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan, 2002). Russell resigned himself to ultimately “rot” in the grave. In his book, Why I am not a Christian, Russell dismissed everything Jesus said about life’s meaning, including his promise of eternal life.

Jesus Triumphs
Jesus actually defeated death as eyewitnesses claim. He alone is able to tell us what life is all about, and answer, “Where am I going?” In order to understand how Jesus’ words, life, and death can establish our identities, give us meaning in life, and provide hope for the future, we need to understand what he said about God, about us, and about himself.

Summing up, I use the words of Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon player as he was dying of AIDS, which he got due to infected blood he received during a heart surgery in 1983. From world over, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed. "Why does GOD have to select you for such a bad disease"?

To this Arthur Ashe replied. The world over 5 crore children start playing tennis, 50 lakh learn to play tennis, 5 lakh learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to semi-final, 2 to the finals, When I was holding a cup I never asked GOD "Why me?".

And today in pain I should not be asking GOD "Why me?"
Life after death promise keeps us Sweet, Trials keep us Strong, Sorrow keeps us Human, Failure keeps us Humble, Success keeps us Glowing, But only GOD KEEPS US GOING..... EVER STRONG…

The Resurrection

The main sources which directly attest the fact of Christ’s Resurrection are the Four Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul. Easter morning is so rich in incident, and so crowded with interested persons, that its complete history presents a rather complicated tableau. It is not surprising, therefore, that the partial accounts contained in each of the Four Gospels appear at first sight hard to harmonize. But whatever exegetic view as to the visit to the sepulcher by the pious women and the appearance of the angels we may defend, we cannot deny the Evangelists’ agreement as to the fact that the risen Christ appeared to one or more persons. According to St. Matthew, He appeared to the holy women, and again on a mountain in Galilee; according to St. Mark, He was seen by Mary Magdalene, by the two disciples at Emmaus, and the Eleven before his Ascension into heaven; according to St. Luke, He walked with the disciples to Emmaus, appeared to Peter and to the assembled disciples in Jerusalem; according to St. John, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the ten Apostles on Easter Sunday, to the Eleven a week later, and to the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberius. St. Paul (1 Cor 15.3-8) enumerates another series of apparitions of Jesus after His Resurrection; he was seen by Cephas, by the Eleven, by more than 500 brethren, many of whom were still alive at the time of the Apostle’s writing, by James, by all the Apostles, and lastly by Paul himself.

An Outline
Here is an outline of a possible harmony of the Evangelists’ account concerning the principal events of Easter Sunday.

The holy women carrying the spices previously prepared start out for the sepulcher before dawn, and reach it after sunrise; they are anxious about the heavy stone, but know nothing of the official guard of the sepulcher (Mt 28.1-3; Mr 16.1-3; Lk 24.1; Jn 20.1).

The angel frightened the guards by his brightness, put them to flight, rolled away the stone, and seated himself not upon (ep autou), but above (epano autou) the stone (Mt 28.2-4).

Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome approach the sepulcher, and see the stone rolled back, whereupon Mary Magdalene immediately returns to inform the Apostles (Mk 16.4; Lk 24.2; Jn 20.1-2).

The other two holy women enter the sepulcher, find an angel seated in the vestibule, who shows them the empty sepulcher, announces the Resurrection, and commissions them to tell the disciples and Peter that they shall see Jesus in Galilee (Mt 28.5-7; Mk 16.5-7).

A second group of holy women, consisting of Joanna and her companions, arrive at the sepulcher, where they have probably agreed to meet the first group, enter the empty interior, and are admonished by two angels that Jesus has risen according to His prediction (Lk 24.10).

Not long after, Peter and John, who were notified by Mary Magdalen, arrive at the sepulchre and find the linen cloth in such a position as to exclude the supposition that the body was stolen; for they lay simply flat on the ground, showing that the sacred body had vanished out of them without touching them. When John notices this he believes (Jh 20.3-10).

Mary Magdalen returns to the sepulchre, sees first two angels within, and then Jesus Himself (Jn 20.11-l6; Mk 16.9).

The two groups of pious women, who probably met on their return to the city, are favored with the sight of Christ arisen, who commissions them to tell His brethren that they will see him in Galilee (Mt 28.8-10; Mk 16.8).

The holy women relate their experiences to the Apostles, but find no belief (Mk 16.10-11; Lk 24.9-11).

Jesus appears to the disciples, at Emmaus, and they return to Jerusalem; the Apostles appear to waver between doubt and belief (Mk 16.12-13; Lk 24.13-35).
Christ appears to Peter, and therefore Peter and John firmly believe in the Resurrection (Luke 24.34; Jn 20.8).

After the return of the disciples from Emmaus, Jesus appears to all the Apostles excepting Thomas (Mk 16.14; Lk 24.36-43; Jn 20.19-25).

The Apparitions
The harmony of the other apparitions of Christ after His Resurrection presents no special difficulties. Briefly, therefore, the fact of Christ’s Resurrection is attested by more than 500 eyewitnesses, whose experience, simplicity, and uprightness of life rendered them incapable of inventing such a fable, who lived at a time when any attempt to deceive could have been easily discovered, who had nothing in this life to gain, but everything to lose by their testimony, whose moral courage exhibited in their apostolic life can be explained only by their intimate conviction of the objective truth of their message. Again the fact of Christ’s Resurrection is attested by the eloquent silence of the Synagogue which had done everything to prevent deception, which could have easily discovered deception, if there had been any, which opposed only sleeping witnesses to the testimony of the Apostles, which did not punish the alleged carelessness of the official guard, and which could not answer the testimony of the Apostles except by threatening them “that they speak no more in this name to any man” (Acts 4.17). Finally the thousands and millions, both Jews and Gentiles, who believed the testimony of the Apostles in spite of all the disadvantages following from such a belief, in short the origin of the Church, requires for its explanation the reality of Christ’s Resurrection, for the rise of the Church without the Resurrection would have been a greater miracle than the Resurrection itself.

Opposing Theories
By what means can the evidence for Christ’s Resurrection by overthrown? Three theories of explanation have been advanced, though the first two have hardly any adherents in our day.

The Swoon Theory
There is the theory of those who assert that Christ did not really die upon the cross, that His supposed death was only a temporary swoon, and that His Resurrection was simply a return to consciousness. This was advocated by Paulus (“Exegetisches Handbuch”, 1842, II, p. 929) and in a modified form by Hase (“Gesch. Jesu”, n. 112), but it does not agree with the data furnished by the Gospels. The scourging and the crown of thorns, the carrying of the cross and the crucifixion, the three hours on the cross and the piercing of the Sufferer’s side cannot have brought on a mere swoon. His real death is attested by the centurion and the soldiers, by the friends of Jesus and by his most bitter enemies. His stay in a sealed sepulchre for thirty-six hours, in an atmosphere poisoned by the exhalations of a hundred pounds of spices, which would have of itself sufficed to cause death. Moreover, if Jesus had merely returned from a swoon, the feelings of Easter morning would have been those of sympathy rather than those of joy and triumph, the Apostles would have been roused to the duties of a sick chamber rather than to apostolic work, the life of the powerful wonderworker would have ended in ignoble solitude and inglorious obscurity, and His vaunted sinlessness would have changed into His silent approval of a lie as the foundation stone of His Church. No wonder that later critics of the Resurrection, like Strauss, have heaped contempt on the old theory of a swoon.

The Imposition Theory
The disciples, it is said, stole the body of Jesus from the grave, and then proclaimed to men that their Lord had risen. This theory was anticipated by the Jews who “gave a great sum of money to the soldiers, saying. Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away when we were asleep” (Mt 28.12). The same was urged by Celsus (Orig., “Contra Cels.”, II, 56) with some difference of detail. But to assume that the Apostles with a burden of this kind upon their consciences could have preached a kingdom of truth and righteousness as the one great effort of their lives, and that for the sake of that kingdom they could have suffered even unto death, is to assume one of those moral impossibilities which may pass for a moment in the heat of controversy, but must be dismissed without delay in the hour of good reflection.

The Vision Theory

This theory as generally understood by its advocates does not allow visions caused by a Divine intervention, but only such as are the product of human agencies. For if a Divine intervention be admitted, we may as well believe, as far as principles are concerned, that God raised Jesus from the dead. But where in the present instance are the human agencies which might cause these visions? The idea of a resurrection from the grave was familiar to the disciples from their Jewish faith; they had also vague intimations in the prophecies of the Old Testament; finally, Jesus Himself had always associated His Resurrection with the predictions of his death. On the other hand, the disciples’ state of mind was one of great excitement; they treasured the memory of Christ with a fondness which made it almost impossible for them to believe that He was gone. In short, their whole mental condition was such as needed only the application of a spark to kindle the flame. The spark was applied by Mary Magdalen, and the flame at once spread with the rapidity and force of a conflagration. What she believed that she had seen, others immediately believed that they must see. Their expectations were fulfilled, and the conviction seized the members of the early Church that the Lord had really risen from the dead.

Such is the vision theory commonly defended by recent critics of the Resurrection. But however ingeniously it may be devised, it is quite impossible from an historical point of view.

Criticism
It is incompatible with the state of mind of the Apostles; the theory presupposes faith and expectancy on the part of the Apostles, while in point of fact the disciples’ faith and expectancy followed their vision of the risen Christ.

It is inconsistent with the nature of Christ’s manifestations; they ought to have been connected with heavenly glory, or they should have continued the former intimate relations of Jesus with His disciples, while actually and consistently they presented quite a new phase that could not have been expected.

It does not agree with the conditions of the early Christian community; after the first excitement of Easter Sunday, the disciples as a body are noted for their cool deliberation rather than the exalted enthusiasm of a community of visionaries.

It is incompatible with the length of time during which the apparitions lasted; visions such as the critics suppose have never been known to last long, while some of Christ’s manifestations lasted a considerable period.

It is not consistent with the fact that the manifestations were made to numbers at the same instant.

It does not agree with the place where most of the manifestations were made. visionary appearances would have been expected in Galilee, while most apparitions of Jesus occurred in Judea.

It is inconsistent with the fact that the visions came to a sudden end on the day of Ascension.

Keim admits that enthusiasm, nervousness, and mental excitement on the part of the disciples do not supply a rational explanation of the facts as related in the Gospels. According to him, the visions were directly granted by God and the glorified Christ; they may even include a “corporeal appearance” for those who fear that without this they would lose all. But Keim’s theory satisfies neither the Church, since it abandons all the proofs of a bodily Resurrection of Jesus, nor the enemies of the Church, since it admits many of the Church’s dogmas; nor again is it consistent with itself, since it grants God’s special intervention in proof of the Church’s faith, though it starts with the denial of the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, which is one of the principal objects of that faith.

Modernist View
The Holy Office describes and condemns in the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh propositions of the Decree “Lamentabili”, the views advocated by a fourth class of opponents of the Resurrection. The former of these propositions reads. “The Resurrection of our Saviour is not properly a fact of the historical order, but a fact of the purely supernatural order neither proved nor provable, which Christian consciousness has little by little inferred from other facts.” This statement agrees with, and is further explained by the words of Loisy (“Autour d’un petit livre”, p. viii, 120-121, 169; “L’Evangile et l’Eglise”, pp. 74-78; 120-121; 171). According to Loisy, firstly, the entrance into life immortal of one risen from the dead is not subject to observation; it is a supernatural, hyper-historical fact, not capable of historical proof. The proofs alleged for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ are inadequate; the empty sepulchre is only an indirect argument, while the apparitions of the risen Christ are open to suspicion on a priori grounds, being sensible impressions of a supernatural reality; and they are doubtful evidence from a critical point of view, on account of the discrepancies in the various Scriptural narratives and the mixed character of the detail connected with the apparitions. Secondly, if one prescinds from the faith of the Apostles, the testimony of the New Testament does not furnish a certain argument for the fact of the Resurrection. This faith of the Apostles is concerned not so much with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as with His immortal life; being based on the apparitions, which are unsatisfactory evidence from an historical point of view, its force is appreciated only by faith itself; being a development of the idea of an immortal Messiah, it is an evolution of Christian consciousness, though it is at the same time a corrective of the scandal of the Cross. The Holy Office rejects this view of the Resurrection when it condemns the thirty-seventh proposition in the Decree “Lamentabili”. “The faith in the Resurrection of Christ pointed at the beginning no so much to the fact of the Resurrection, as to the immortal life of Christ with God.”

Practical Conclusion
Besides the authoritative rejection of the foregoing view, we may submit the following three considerations which render it untenable. First, the contention that the Resurrection of Christ cannot be proved historically is not in accord with science. Science does not know enough about the limitations and the properties of a body raised from the dead to immortal life to warrant the assertion that such a body cannot be perceived by the senses; again in the case of Christ, the empty sepulcher with all its concrete circumstances cannot be explained except by a miraculous Divine intervention as supernatural in its character as the Resurrection of Jesus. Secondly, history does not allow us to regard the belief in the Resurrection as the result of a gradual evolution in Christian consciousness. The apparitions were not a mere projection of the disciples’ Messianic hope and expectation; their Messianic hope and expectations had to be revived by the apparitions. Again, the Apostles did not begin with preaching the immortal life of Christ with God, but they preached Christ’s Resurrection from the very beginning, they insisted on it as a fundamental fact and they described even some of the details connected with this fact. Acts 2.24,31; 3.15,26; 4.10; 5.30; 10. 39-40; 13.30,37; 17.31-2; Rm 1.4; 4.25; 6.4,9; 8.11,34; 10. etc. Thirdly, the denial of the historical certainty of Christ’s Resurrection involves several historical blunders. it questions the objective reality of the apparitions without any historical grounds for such a doubt; it denies the fact of the empty sepulchre in spite of solid historical evidence to the contrary; it questions even the fact of Christ’s burial in Joseph’s sepulchre, though this fact is based on the clear and simply unimpeachable testimony of history.


Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


GOOD FRIDAY : Year: A
Is 52.13 to 53.12; Heb 4.14-16, 5.7-9; Jn 18.1 to 19.42

Only God Knows
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before - such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. "This horse is not a horse to me," he would tell them. "It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?" The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. The entire village came to see him. "You old fool," they scoffed, "we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you've been cursed with misfortune."

The old man responded, "Don't speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I've been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?"

The people contested, "Don't make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact is that your horse is gone is a curse."

The old man spoke again. "All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don't know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can't say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?"

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn't, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. he lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn't been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. "Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us."

The man responded, "Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don't judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?

"Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don't say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don't."

"Maybe the old man is right," they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

"You were right," they said. "You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever."

The old man spoke again. "You people are obsessed with judging. Don't go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments."

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

"You were right, old man," they wept. "God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son's accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever."

The old man spoke again. "It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows."

Irreplaceable Damage

This is a true story which happened in the States. A man came out of his home to admire his new truck. To his puzzlement, his three-year-old son was happily hammering dents into the shiny paint of the truck. The man ran to his son, knocked him away, and hammered the little boy's hands into pulp as punishment. When the father calmed down, he rushed his son to the hospital.

Although the doctor tried desperately to save the crushed bones, he finally had to amputate the fingers from both the boy's hands. When the boy woke up from the surgery & saw his bandaged stubs, he innocently said, "Daddy, I'm sorry about your truck." Then he asked, "… but when are my fingers going to grow back?" The father went home and committed suicide.

Think about this story the next time someone steps on your feet or you wish to take revenge. Think first before you lose your patience with someone you love. Trucks can be repaired… Broken bones & hurt feelings often can't. Too often we fail to recognize the difference between the person and the performance. We forget that forgiveness is greater than revenge.

Damage will haunt us

People make mistakes. We are allowed to make mistakes. But the actions we take while in a rage will haunt us forever.

Do we remember the lies that were testified against Jesus? (Mk 14.56)
How about when some of the people spit on Jesus? (Mk 14.65)
When Jesus was repeatedly hit by the palms of hands? (Mk 14.65)
When He was whipped and He shed His Sacred Blood? (Mt 27.26)
When He had a Crown of Thorns placed on His head? (Jn 19.2)
Do we remember when that for our sake, Jesus was stripped of His clothing? (Mt 27.28) What embarrassment He endured for us!
Do we remember when Jesus was mocked as the King of the Jews? (Mt 27.29)
When He was hit on the head with a reed? (Mt 27.30)
When they mocked Jesus by bowing on their knees before Him? (Mk 19-20)
When they cast lots for His vesture? (Mt 27.35)
When He was beaten by the soldiers? (Jn 19.3)
When He had to carry the heavy wooden Cross of our sins while He was in such great pains? (Jn 19.17).

Preparing to be an Eagle

Though many of us have seen pictures of a huge eagle's nest high in the branches of a tree or in the crag of a cliff, few of us have gotten a glimpse inside. When a mother eagle builds her nest she starts with thorns, broken branches, sharp rocks, and a number of other items that seem entirely unsuitable for the project. But then she lines the nest with a thick padding of wool, feathers, and fur from animals she has killed, making it soft and comfortable for the eggs. By the time the growing birds reach flying age, the comfort of the nest and the luxury of free meals make them quite reluctant to leave. That's when the mother eagle begins "stirring up the nest." With her strong talons she begins pulling up the thick carpet of fur and feathers, bringing the sharp rocks and branches to the surface. As more of the bedding gets plucked up, the nest becomes more uncomfortable for the young eagles. Eventually, this and other urgings prompt the growing eagles to leave their once-comfortable abode and move on to more mature behavior.

IT IS THE DAY OF FORGIVENESS AND A DAY TO BE WITH THE SUFFERING LOT. LET US LIVE THIS DAY IN TOTAL SILENCE OF MIND AND SURROUNDINGS.

 

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


Holy Thursday : Year: A

Is 61.1-3a, 6a, 8b-9; Rev 1.4-8; Lk 4.16-21


Mandatum
This day, Maundy Thursday (also "Holy Thursday" or "Shire Thursday") commemorates Christ's Last Supper and the initiation of the Eucharist. Its name of "Maundy" comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning "command." This stems from Christ's words in John 13.34, "A new commandment I give unto you." It is the first of the three days known as the "Triduum," and after the Vigil tonight, and until the Vigil of Easter, a more profoundly somber attitude prevails (most especially during the hours between noon and 3.00 pm on Good Friday).

Coenaculum
The Last Supper took place in "the upper room" of the house believed to have been owned by John Mark and his mother, Mary (Acts 12.12). This room, also the site of the Pentecost, is known as the "Coenaculum" or the "Cenacle" and is referred to as "Holy and glorious Sion, mother of all churches" in St. James' Liturgy. At the site of this place - our first Christian church a basilica was built in the 4th century. It was destroyed by Muslims and later re-built by the Crusaders. Underneath the place is the tomb of David.

Garden of Gethsemane

After the Supper, He went outside the Old City of Jerusalem, crossed the Kidron Valley, and came to the Garden of Gethsemane, a place whose name means "Olive Press," and where olives still grow today. There He suffered in three ineffable ways. He knew exactly what would befall Him physically and mentally every stroke, every thorn in the crown He would wear, every labored breath He would try to take while hanging on the Cross, the pain in each glance at His mother; He knew that He was taking on all the sins of the world all the sins that had ever been or ever will be committed; and, finally, He knew that, for some people, this Sacrifice would not be fruitful because they would reject Him. Here He was let down by His Apostles when they fell asleep instead of keeping watch, here is where He was further betrayed by Judas with a kiss, and where He was seized by "a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief Priests and the ancients of the people" and taken before Caiphas, the high priest, where he was accused of blasphemy, beaten, spat upon, and prepared to be taken to Pontius Pilate tomorrow morning.

Chrism Mass

As for today's liturgies, in the morning, the local Bishop will offer a special Chrism Mass during which blesses the oils used in Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Unction, and the consecration of Altars and churches.

The Procedure
At the evening Mass, after the bells ring during the Gloria, they are rung no more until the Easter Vigil (a wooden clapper called a "crotalus" is used instead). Parents explain this to their children by saying that the all bells fly to Rome after the Gloria of the Mass on Maundy Thursday to visit the Popes. Children are told that the bells sleep on the roof of St. Peter's Basilica, and, bringing Easter eggs with them, start their flight home at the Gloria at the Easter Vigil, when they peal wildly.

Washing of the Feet
Then comes the Washing of the Feet after the homily, a rite performed by Christ upon His disciples to prepare them for the priesthood and the marriage banquet they will offer, and which is rooted in the Old Testament practice of foot-washing in preparation for the marital embrace (II Kgs 11.8-11, Canticles 5.3) and in the ritual ablutions performed by the High Priest of the Old Covenant (contrast Leviticus 16.23-24 with John 13.3-5). The priest girds himself with a cloth and washes the feet of 12 men he's chosen to represent the Apostles for the ceremony.

After the Eucharist
The rest of the Mass after the Washing of the Feet has a special form, unlike all other Masses. After the Mass, the priest takes off his chasuble and vests in a white cope. He returns to the Altar, incenses the Sacred Hosts in the ciborium, and, preceded by the Crucifer and torchbearers, carries the Ciborium to the "Altar of Repose," also called the "Holy Sepulcher," where it will remain "entombed" until the Mass of the Pre-sanctified on Good Friday.

Stripping of the Altars
Then there follows the Stripping of the Altars, during which everything is removed as Antiphons and Psalms are recited. All the glorious symbols of Christ's Presence are removed to give us the sense of His entering most fully into His Passion. Christ enters the Garden of Gethsemane; His arrest is imminent. The joyful signs of His Presence won't return until Easter begins with the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening.

Customs
As to customs, many families have a practice of visiting the tabernacles of three or seven nearby churches after the Mass on this day as a sort of "mini-pilgrimage" (any nearby Catholic churches will do). Some families visit the churches directly after the evening Mass; others go home and wake up in the middle of the night to make the visits (though since churches are rarely open all night these days, this would be hard to do). The spirit of the visits to the churches is keeping vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus prayed before His arrest. Matthew 26.36 "Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples. Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray."

Green Thursday
In Germany, Maundy Thursday is known as "Green Thursday" (Grundonnerstag), and the traditional foods are green vegetables and green salad, especially a spinach salad. In Latin countries, Jordan almonds ("confetti") are eaten today and also throughout Eastertide.

Back when Kings and Queens of England were Catholic, they, too, would wash the feet of 12 subjects, seeing the foot washing rite also as an example of service and humility. They would also give money to the poor on this day, a practice is said to have begun with St. Augustine of Canterbury in A.D. 597, and performed by Kings since Edward II. Now the foot washing isn't done (it was given up in the 18th c.), but a special coin called "Maundy Money" is minted and given to the selected elderly of a representative town.

On this day, one may gain a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, by reciting the Tantum Ergo (Down in Adoration).

Practical Conclusion

This ritual reminds of Jesus’ greatest gesture of service which no leader in the history of mankind was able to conceive in his mind. Here we see the son of man at the feet of his own disciples, washing and setting an example of loving one another, to show to the world that only love matters and nothing else.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


Passion (Palm) Sunday : Year: A

Mt 21.1-11; Is 50.4-7; Phil 2.6-11, Mt 26.14-27;66


Congratulations
Congratulations dear Christians, Congrats, you are well appreciated, well accepted, you are sociable, you celebrate life, you run good institutions, schools, colleges, you are good at speaking good English, good at learning languages, but I am just warning you, you are not people of deep God-experience. One Hindu addressing Christians told this on a Centenary Celebration day. “I say I love you, but I am not convinced fully that you carry your cross.” He ended his reflection.

Our Celebrations
Look at the life of Jesus, fully equipped with humility and surrender to accept God’s will. The son of man must suffer. The son of man came to give life and not to take it. The son of man came to lay down his life. There is no greater love than laying down one’s life for friends. I want Christ for working miracles.

But I am not ready to carry my daily cross. He worked miracles, but he also strongly invited his disciples to carry their daily cross. We want Christ, but not his cross. We want a cross, but not a crucifix.

The Triumph

This event of Palm Sunday constitutes the one earthly triumph of Jesus' life and ministry. The crowd was following him because of the great miracle he had wrought in raising Lazarus from the dead. The sisters from Bethany and Lazarus were apparently well known. As the crowd grew in numbers, Jesus sensed that the Father was asking him to acquiesce to this acclamation. He sent ahead for a beast of burden. For the first time, as far as we know, he mounted. He was thus slightly above the crowd so that all could see him. The people started pulling down branches from the trees and throwing them in front of him. Their enthusiasm became contagious. The whole city was plunged into excitement. The crowd was waving palms, singing and proclaiming him to be the son of David, the king of Israel of times past and the father of the Messiah. The words clearly implied a divine visitation. That is why the Pharisees demanded, "Stop your disciples from crying out. They are making you equal to God." He replied, "If they are quiet, the stones will cry out." All creation was bearing witness to the coming to final term of the life of him who is the source of all that is.

Entry into Jerusalem

The thunderous shouts and applause of the immense crowd form the background for Jesus' amazing entry into Jerusalem. When he came to the brow of the Mount of Olives, the procession stopped and Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He wept because the city could not perceive the great opportunity that it was about to lose. He was fully aware that the authorities were plotting his death and that the adulation he was receiving would soon turn to condemnation. The superficial enthusiasm of the crowd had a hollow ring.

Jesus Wept
Nothing could be worse public relations than to have the celebrity of the moment burst into tears, especially when you are trying to turn him into a king or a god. Jesus wept because of, the deep tragedy that only he had eyes to perceive. "Jerusalem" he sobbed, "if only you had known the time of your visitation. Now it is too late." Thus, the city that he loved so much was fated to undergo total destruction. It did not know the time of its divine visitation.

Jesus is the paradigm of humanity, the universal human being, God's idea of human nature with its enormous potentialities. According to the great hymn of Paul to God's humility, the divine Person of the Word, source of everything that exists, did not cling to his divine dignity or prerogatives, but threw them all away. In God there seems to be the need not to be God. In creating, God, in a sense dies, because he is no longer alone; he is completely involved in the evolution of these creatures whom he has made so lovable.

God with Us
Christ emptied himself of the divine power that could have protected him and opened himself in total vulnerability as he stretched out his arms on the cross to embrace all human suffering. In the most real sense, we too are the body of God; we too are a new humanity in which the Word becomes flesh; we too can put ourselves in the service of the divine Word. Then God is experiencing human life through our senses, our emotions, and our thoughts. Each of us can give the eternal Word a new way in which he discovers his own infinite potentiality. Thus, God knows himself in us and experiences the human condition in all its ramifications. The Word lives in us, or more exactly, lives us. We are incorporated into the new creation that Christ has brought into the world by becoming a human being. We leave behind the false self and solidarity with Adam, which is solidarity in sin, death, and human misery Jesus invites us to experience his consciousness of the Father, the Abba of infinite concern, the God who transcends both suffering and joy and manifests equally in both.

Practical Conclusion
Christ on the donkey, waving aside the cheers of the crowd, is riding to his death. This is his way of revealing the heart of God once and for all in such a way that no one can ever doubt God's infinite mercy. The priest says over the bread and wine, "This is my Body " The power of those words extends to each of us as Christ awakens and celebrates his great sacrifice in our own hearts saying, "You are my body. You are my blood." You, with all of humanity, are a manifestation in the flesh of the new creation. Palm Sunday is a day of great awakening that the Lord Jesus came to redeem us and lead us to Eternal Jerusalem. We all will be triumphant with Him in the New Jerusalem.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


5th Sunday of Lent, Year: A

Ez 37.12-4; Rm 8.8-11; Jn 11.1-45

More Alive than Before

D.L. Moody was often heard to say during the closing days of his life, “Some fine morning, you will read in the newspapers that D.L. Moody is dead. But do not believe it, for I shall be more alive that morning than ever before!” If you have Christ in your life as your personal Saviour, you will be like D.L. Moody. If you do not know Christ, all you have to look forward to is fear and despair. If we believe in Jesus all that we experienced in the past three weeks will be an experience that has enhanced our life with Jesus.

A Strange Response

Here is the scene, the picture. Lazarus died in the town of Bethany, which is a village just east of Jerusalem. Jesus was not there, but was over in the town of Perea, which is over on the other side of the Jordan River, quite a long distance away. Perea is near where John the Baptist ministered (John 10.40-42). It is a long, hot, and dusty walk from there to where Lazarus died.

The Purpose

When Jesus heard the news that his friend was sick, his response was very unusual. Jesus said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it is for the glory of God.” That answer sounds cold and harsh, and not at all sympathetic. How could God get glory from Lazarus being sick? Here are several possible answers to this.

The Miracle

Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and that people would glorify God when it happened since only God can raise the dead.

A Walking Advertisement

There are no words of Lazarus recorded in the Bible, but his whole life was a message after his resurrection. In fact, after he was brought back to life by Jesus we find the chief priests plotting to kill Jesus because so many Jews became believers in Jesus on account of Lazarus (Jn 12.10-11). Lazarus was a walking advertisement, a walking sign, that Jesus is God. When the established religion feels threatened, they believe they must kill the new religion...even when the established religion is a false religion.

Glorifying God

Jesus told his disciples that he was glad he had not been present when Lazarus died. Jesus said this so they would get a chance to witness the resurrection and increase their own faith. Jesus let his disciples go through difficult things in order to stretch and build their faith. Donald Gray Barnhouse once wrote, “I believe that God does this with everyone, with all of us all the time.” To teach us to trust Him, God puts us in a difficult spot. When God wants us to trust Him greatly, He puts us in an impossible spot. Think about that!

The Friends of Lazarus

Many of Mary and Martha’s friends came to console them in the loss of their brother. So Jesus knew that there would be a large number of people witnessing the miracle and that they would bring glory to God - and that many of them would be drawn to Jesus as a result of what they saw. Lives are often changed through the experience of another person’s death, and Jesus knew that would happen here.

The Glory of the Cross

In John 17.1 and 17.5, Jesus referred to the cross as His “Glorification”. Just days after Lazarus’ death and resurrection came His own death and resurrection. Jesus knew that what He was about to do for Lazarus would cause the Pharisees to put Him to death. His death would ultimately bring salvation to the world, and so in an indirect way, Lazarus’ death leads to God’s glory, by leading to the death of Christ.

The Delay

Jesus started by saying something unusual to the disciples and then continued by doing something unusual when he postponed His visit to see about his friend Lazarus’ condition. John says that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, yet he stayed two more days in Perea without going to Bethany. No priest friend today would be able to get away with that!

When there is a crisis and the priest is called to offer support, there is no way he could wait two days and then show up at the hospital. Yet somehow Jesus did not go to be with his friend, even though Jesus loved Lazarus and the family.

The reason, of course, was that Jesus knew what He was going to do when He did arrive. By postponing an immediate answer to their need of the family, Jesus was able to arrange an even greater demonstration of His love.

Think about this. Sometimes the love of God is delayed for our own ultimate benefit. First, delays in expressions of God’s love can allow time for us to think things through more clearly. For example, we have asked God for something and the answer is delayed. Then we have time to reflect on the situation and by doing this we can gain more understanding and a more clear way to proceed.

Second, delays can help confirm our faith. It is easy to trust the Lord when we have everything we need. But when God’s answer is delayed it causes our faith to be stretched - and that is a good thing.

The Jews in the time of Jesus had a tradition, a belief that at death a person’s spirit remained close to the body for two days; after that it left. Jesus may have been allowing that two-day period to pass so there would be no question about Lazarus’ death. There is no Biblical support for that belief, of course. But perhaps Jesus did not want superstition or tradition to get in the way of what He was planning to do.

The Pronouncement

Another strange turn of events happened when Jesus tries to explain it to the disciples. He says, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” The disciples were worried about Jesus going near Jerusalem since the Jews wanted to persecute Him.

They thought Lazarus would be fine by himself if he was just sleeping, so why risk a confrontation with the Jews? But then, after a discussion, Jesus puts it to them plainly. “Lazarus is dead.” He wanted the disciples to see the resurrection (vs 15) so off the Bethany they went.

A Sorrowful Response

In the middle section of this story, we see Jesus’ strange response to death replaced by a sorrowful response.

The Sorrow of the Sisters

Mary and Martha have very different personalities, and you can see that here as well as in Luke 10.38-42. Mary is relaxed, Martha is consumed with concern. She is nervous about everything. Martha accuses Jesus of letting Lazarus die needlessly - she says that if Jesus had come earlier He could have healed him before he died. But Jesus tells her that Lazarus will live. Martha then goes to call Mary, who has been waiting in their house. When Mary came to where Jesus was, she said the same thing Martha did - that Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had come sooner. Mary is sounding like Martha, and Martha is sounding like Mary. The two sisters were consumed with grief, and they are very upset and confused as to why Jesus had not come sooner to care for their brother. They say that Jesus has let them down. Many people today say the same thing...That they called on Jesus but He did not do things the way they wanted Him to, so they were no longer going to believe in Him ...You have probably talked to people like that. As Mary and Martha said, and as many people today say, there would be no grief if Jesus would just come when I call Him. He should do what I tell Him to do.

He Wept

Now, the next thing that follows right after the sister’s grief, is a scene that can touch our hearts in a special way. What is it? Well, it is the sorrow of the Saviour. Jesus experienced sorrow, which is a very human feeling. One translation says that Jesus “groaned in the spirit”. This means He was deeply troubled. He was agitated, which is to say he shook with emotion. This is a picture of Jesus feeling intensely sorrowful because of the grief of Lazarus’ family and friends. It was their grief that prompted His own.

And verse 35 shows in the most direct way possible the sorrow Jesus felt over the whole situation. “Jesus wept”. Literally, the test implies that Jesus burst into tears. He identified with the loss of His friends and their extended family. The New Testament says we are to weep with those who weep (Rm 12.15), and bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6.2). Suffering of our own helps us identify with the suffering of others, which is another reason not to resist the troubles God brings into your life.
Jesus is called “the suffering Servant” because He had a heart easily broken by the needs of other people.

A Supernatural Response

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus displayed both that He was human and that He was God. His humanity was shown in His having the same emotion that His friends had. But He does some more human things. You see, He does things that any human could do, right up to the time He gets to the point where human power stopped. Jesus approaches the scene like you or I would. First, He tells the bystanders to take away the stone covering the tomb. Could He have moved it with a wave of His hand? Yes, but He did not. He does the same thing when He instructs those standing by to take the grave clothes off of Lazarus. Could He have raised Lazarus right through the grave clothes? Yes, but He didn’t. You see, Jesus’ miracles are never flashy or showy. They are always easy for us to understand.

In this Gospel, we learn that Jesus does not do for us what we can do for ourselves, but He does do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

So let us look for a moment at Martha, who is always the person who is concerned with details. Martha steps in to warn Jesus that there will be a stink if they take away the stone. She tells Jesus that Lazarus has been dead for four days. How often do we give God advice about things which He has exhaustive knowledge about? If we would just obey Him it would demonstrate greater faith than when we remind Him of this or that.

Martha has no idea what Jesus is doing. She probably thought Jesus just wanted to see His friend Lazarus one last time. In that sense, warning Him about the smell and condition of the body makes some sense. But she should have known by this time to trust Jesus and wait to see what He had in mind. Especially since Jesus tells her it is the glory of God that is about to be revealed (vs 40). In any event, Jesus tells the people to move the stone and they did.

Next, Jesus stands before the opened tomb and called Lazarus from death back to life. “Lazarus come out”. And the once-dead friend of Jesus walked out of the tomb. Some Bible scholars say that if Jesus had not mentioned Lazarus by name, all the people in the tomb would have come out!

This was a very great miracle - the miracle of resurrection. We know that in the time of Lazarus, dead people were “mummified”. That means that he was wrapped in strips of linen cloth all around his body, with embalming spices being enclosed within the wraps of the cloth. The body would be placed in the tomb on a shelf along with others buried in the same tomb. Lazarus would not even be able to see since his head was also covered with cloth wrapping. He somehow made it outside of the tomb still wrapped in the grave clothes - at this point Jesus gave instructions to unwrap him and “let him go”.

Someone once said two of the greatest things God gives Christians to do are:
To remove the stones from in front of the grave, and
To remove the grave clothes from those resurrected from death to new life.

Remove the Stone and Grave Clothes

Removing the stones is a symbolic way of saying to remove the obstacles to a person’s faith. For example, answering their questions, being their friend, and in all ways smoothing their path to Jesus.

And removing the grave clothes is helping that person; our friend or our family-member; to take off their old person and put on the new. God gives the new life, but our part is to help them as they move from spiritual death to spiritual life.

Practical Conclusion

Before closing our homily on the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection, we need to look again at the part of this miracle that spans the centuries to our time today. This message is as valuable to us today as it was to those people standing right there and who saw Lazarus walk out of the grave. In verses 25 and 26, Jesus said.

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this?

Jesus originally asked that question to Martha. But right now, He is asking you the same question. This is the most important question in the Bible. It is the most important question you will ever be asked. It is true that we will die a physical death, but Jesus is talking about spiritual life and death. You will die physically, but if you believe in Jesus you will never die spiritually. You will live forever in heaven with Jesus.

If you have read this story and you want to live forever, then right now ask Jesus to come into your life; tell Him that you have sinned, and are sorry for your sins. In the best way you know how, ask Jesus to come into your life and give you the free gift of eternal life.

The miracle that will happen in your life is the greatest miracle of all...you will move from death to life, and you will be “born again in spirit” into eternal life with God. If you have never trusted Jesus, you can do it today.

Today's Gospel reading sends out two messages to those who hear it. First of all, through our living faith in Jesus, all our physical bodies will be raised in the final resurrection. Secondly, especially now with the approaching of Easter Sunday, we are called to symbolically resurrect from sin to grace by partaking in the Sacrament of Confession to cleanse our souls so they may be pleasing to God, now and forever. We need also to resurrect from the present situation of isolation and separation from one another due to Covid19. This promises us a greater reward for all the past days of suffering and pain especially those who lived through terrible illness caused by this virus. Therefore, let us march forward faithfully in our blessed hope, knowing that those who believe in Jesus, will live.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


4th Sunday of Lent : Year: A

1 Sam 16.1b, 6-7, 10-13; Eph 5.8-14; Jn 9.1-41

Silence in the Cemetery
One day I visited our cemetery at Mira Road (Mumbai – India). I used to say to people that whenever they have troubles and problems disturbing them, they should make it a point to visit the cemetery. I would dramatize a whole lot of issues that can be meditated on the cemetery. Issues like when we are totally lost in a relationship, when we feel poor, miserable, rejected, disappointed, they would find an atmosphere there to reawaken a sense of uselessness, a sense of tranquility, a sense of total surrender to God. I used to ask our parishioners to meditate on these wonderful people who were with us one day in the parish, joking, smiling, shaking hands, at times protesting, criticizing etc. are now in the eternal calm of the Father. That day I meditated on one point, what is the will of my Father for me? I didn’t get an answer. But some sense of total peace flooded in my heart. I felt that in spite of my sins and mistakes, there is one who cares for me. Who gazes into my heart, the one who tenderly caresses me. I felt myself on the top of the world. I visited a couple of graves, especially the graves of the young ones who left us recently, through tragic deaths. A tear came to my eye, and a deep sense of sigh, that these young ones perhaps could have made a difference in their families, in their neighborhood etc. I thought for a while, and got convinced that it was the will of the Father for them. I came back with an experience to the parish house. I felt detached from many of my so called vicious thinking and petty attachments. I felt free at least for a while. Now I need to work at these things so that I can try to be free. I was holding this experience till today, and I have shared it with you now.

Born Blind
Today's Gospel reading reminds us of Jesus being the Light. (Jn 9.1-41) As we heard, it was the story of the man who was physically blind since birth. This reading reminds us that by nature, we are all born spiritually blind, blind to so many multimillion things around us. Our blindness ends when we were admitted into the Body of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. By remaining righteousness through the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist, we have maintained our sight. Should we choose to neglect our blessed hope and shipwreck, surely, we will quickly find ourselves blinded by the darkness that surrounds us. The real blindness in our lives could be our attachments. Attachments to the way we think that others should be.

Children of the Light
Today's Second reading (Eph 5.8-14) reminded us to live as children of the Light. It presented the contrast between those who live a Christian life versus the pagans. The Christians were compared to the light versus the darkness. Why did Saint Paul feel it necessary to remind the Ephesians of this truth? It was because some men had a tendency of allowing themselves to be influenced by Gnostic teachings. These individuals considered themselves enlightened and above all considerations of good or evil. Surely, pride must have taken over their reasoning.

The lesson that we learn from the first reading of today is that God is free to elect whoever He chooses. Divine wisdom far surpasses human wisdom. Human wisdom is limited to what it sees and what it hears. Divine wisdom searches the soul, knowing every thoughts of the mind. Divine wisdom knows those who are fearful of the Lord, those who are humble, and those who will serve the Lord in obedience. It knows those who will live as children of the Light.

We are all called to be light to others. We should never become darkness. Hence, each one’s duty is to find out ways and means of becoming the light of Christ.

Blind Attachment
The blind man in the Gospel passage is attached, attached to his own thinking. Pharisees too are attached to their way of thinking. Now the tragedy of an attachment is that if its object is not attained it causes unhappiness. But if it is attained. It does not cause happiness — it merely causes a flash of pleasure followed by weariness. and It is always accompanied, of course, by the anxiety that you may lose the object of your attachment. You will say, "Can't I keep just one attachment?" Of course. You can keep as many as you want. But for each attachment you pay a price in lost happiness. Think of this. The nature of attachments is such, that even if you satisfy many of them in the course of a single day, the one attachment that was not satisfied will prey upon your mind and make you unhappy. There is no way to win the battle of attachments. As well search for water without wetness as for an attachment without unhappiness. No one has ever lived who has come up with a formula for keeping the objects of one's attachments without struggle, anxiety, fear and, sooner or later, defeat.

The Battle
There is only one-way to win the battle against blind attachments. Drop them. Contrary to popular belief, dropping attachments is easy. All you have to do is see; but really see, the following truths. First truth. You are holding on to a false belief, namely, the belief that without this particular person or thing you will not be happy. Take your attachments one at a time and see the falseness of this belief. You may encounter resistance from your heart, but the moment you do see, there will be an immediate emotional result. At that very instant the attachment loses its force. Second truth, if you just enjoy things, refusing to let yourself be attached to them, that is, refusing to hold the false belief that you will not be happy without them, you are spared all the struggle and emotional strain of protecting them and guarding them for yourself. Has it occurred to you that you can keep all the objects of your attachments without giving them up? Without renouncing a single one of them and you can enjoy them even more on a non-attachment, a non-clinging basis, because you are peaceful now and relaxed and unthreatened in your enjoyment of them? The third and final truth, if you learn to enjoy the scent of a thousand flowers you will not cling to one or suffer when you cannot get it. If you have a thousand favorites dishes, the loss of one will go unnoticed and leave your happiness unimpaired. But it is precisely your attachments that prevent you from developing a wider and more varied taste for things and people.

In the light of these three truths no attachment can survive. But the light must shine uninterruptedly if it is to be effective. Attachments can only thrive in the darkness of illusion. The rich man cannot enter the kingdom of joy not because he wants to be bad but because he chooses to be blind.

The Blind Man
When some Pharisees heard the words of Jesus, they said, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" (v. 40) To this, Jesus answered, "If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now that you say, 'We see, “your sin remains” (v. 41). In other words, he who is blind cannot be guilty of sin for not knowing the truth for he is unaware of the truth. But he who is aware of and rejects the truth, claiming that his way is the way, he is guilty of sin. It is only when one realizes the extent of his blindness that there is hope of seeing the light. But what makes a case hopeless is when a person possesses self-satisfaction.

Practical Conclusion
In conclusion, "We must work the works of him who sent (us) while it is day; night is coming when no one can work." (Jn 9.4) As the blind man confessed Christ before others, through our Baptism we were called to plead the cause of the Light. If we are rejected because of our spiritual calling, let us rejoice, for it is Christ Himself who is being rejected through our testimony. In the end, the words of Jesus shall be fulfilled, "For judgment I have come into the world." (Jn. 9.39). Casting out our petty attachments can make us children of light and make us salt of the earth and light so that we are capable of bringing some happiness, I mean light in the lives of those who suffer more than us.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD



3rd Sunday of Lent, Year: A

Ex 17.3-7; Rm 5.1-2, 5-8; Jn 4.5-42


I would be Your Slave
St. Francis of Assisi was an ardent advocate of the doctrine of the indwelling of God in man. It enabled him to love every one equally whatever his status in life. One day he met a fellow who had no love for God. As they walked along they met a man who was blind and paralyzed. St. Francis asked the sightless cripple. “Tell me if I were to restore your eyesight and the use of your limbs, would you love me?” “Ah,” replied the beggar, “I would not only love you but I would be your slave for the rest of my life.” “See,” said Francis to the man who maintained that he could not love God, “this man would love me if I gave him his sight and his health. Why don’t you love God Who created you with eyesight and strong limbs?” That is what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. If we love him because of the countless blessings he has given us by “keeping his words” he will start dwelling within us in the company of his Father and the Holy Spirit, making us the temples of the Triune God.

The Will of God
How can we do the will of the Father? Simple questions of this kind can disturb us. Don’t we all agree that the will of the Father has been revealed to us through all that happens to us around?

In his posthumously published book, Treasure in Clay, the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen writes. “No true vocation starts with ‘what I want’, or ‘what I would like to do,’ it starts with God.” I quote these words because the gospel reading we have just heard shows us Jesus entering publicly on his vocation. As he does so Jesus’ first concern is to show that he is a man under obedience.

My Food and Drink

“To fulfill all righteousness” meant, for Jesus, doing the will of his heavenly Father. That was all that ever mattered for Jesus. Later, he would say that doing his Father’s will was what kept him going. When his disciples told him he must eat something, Jesus said. “I have food to eat of which you do not know … Doing the will of him who sent me and bringing his work to completion is my food” (Jn 4. 31-34). Our religion is so centered on Jesus Christ that we may fail to realize how little he did to draw attention to himself. The theme of Jesus’ preaching was not himself, but God’s kingdom. He came, he said, not to do his will, but the will of another. to serve God by serving others.

This is My Beloved Son

As a devout Jew, Jesus knew by memory many passages from the scriptures of his people — what we call the Old Testament. The words Jesus heard as he emerged from the Jordan following his baptism, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” would have reminded him of the words of our first reading, from the prophet Isaiah. “Here is my servant … my chosen one with whom I am pleased.” Remembering what followed in that Isaiah passage, Jesus knew that he was not called to be the powerful, royal Messiah people were expecting. He would not be a political leader. “not crying out, not shouting,” as Isaiah says in that first reading. He was called instead to a ministry of gentleness. “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,” to quote Isaiah’s words again.

Why is it important for us to know this? Because each one of us was given a similar task when we were baptized. Like Jesus, we are called “to fulfill all righteousness” by serving God and others. Responding to that call is the highest and best thing we can do with the one life that God has given us. Do we really believe that?

Our Designs

Many people do not. The ambition of many people is to “do their own thing,” as the popular modern phrase puts it. Actually, few of us succeed very well in doing our own thing. Rich or poor, female or male, black or white, young, middle-aged or old, all of us are limited by circumstances not of our own making. The poor wish they were rich; the rich think they still don’t have enough, and spend much of their time guarding what they do have from loss. No wonder that so many people feel they’re on a treadmill; or say. “Its war out there.”

The Happier Way

Part of the Gospel, the good news which Jesus Christ proclaims, is that it doesn’t have to be like that. There is another way to live. a better way, and certainly a happier one. It is the way Jesus lived. Jesus was never concerned with doing his own thing. He wanted one thing only; to do God’s thing. How many of Jesus’ sisters and brothers have discovered this key to a happy and fulfilled life we cannot know. Most of them are anonymous. Sometimes, however, God lets us identify some of them. Mother Teresa was such a person. So was Pope John XXIII — as those of us old enough to remember him know well.

Pope John Paul II was another person who found happiness in “fulfilling all righteousness” — in doing not his own thing but God’s thing. Weighed down in his closing years by infirmities, a physical wreck yet still mentally alert, Pope John Paul was a sign to the world that life is still worth living, even when one is old and infirm. On the eve of his eightieth birthday, the Pope wrote a letter “To my elderly brothers and sisters.” Here is some of what he said. “Despite the limitations brought on by age, I continue to enjoy life. For this I thank the Lord. It is wonderful to be able to give oneself to the very end for the sake of the Kingdom of God!”

Bid me come to you

The concluding paragraphs of this beautiful letter have a message for all of us. whatever our age or circumstances. Let me conclude by reading them to you.After the words just quoted about his joy in giving himself to the very end for the sake of the Kingdom of God, the Pope continues.

“At the same time, I find great peace in thinking of the time when the Lord will call me. from life to life! And so I often find myself saying, with no trace of melancholy, a prayer recited by priests after the celebration of the Eucharist. ‘At the hour of my death call me and bid me come to you.’ This is the prayer of Christian hope, which in no way detracts from the joy of the present, while entrusting the future to God’s gracious and loving care. “Bid me come to you!”. this is the deepest yearning of the human heart, even in those who are not conscious of it.

The Words of Jesus echo our present short-term perseverance. Entering the third week in Lenten Season, we are making every effort to persevere in our fasting, our penances and our prayers so we may obtain the strength that we need to overcome our sinful tendencies. By the grace of God, we shall achieve our personal goals so we may be one with Jesus as He is one with the Father (Jn 17.11).

Water from Rock

Today's First Reading from the Book of Exodus (Ex 17.3-7) was a prophetic picture of what was to come through Jesus Christ. It consisted of one of the three events found in the Old Testament that speak of people thirsting for water.

The first event took place in Mirah (Ex 15.22-7) where Moses turned bitter water into sweet water. The second event, (Ex 17.3- 7) the one that was read today, took place at Rephidim. Being without water, Moses was commanded by God to take the elders with him and to strike the rock with the staff. Then, miraculously, water came out of the rock. The third event took place at Kadesh (Num 20.2-13) where once more Moses was commanded by God to assemble the congregation and to command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. As biblical history tell us, Moses did not trust in the Lord. {Num 20.12) Because he struck the rock twice, he was punished and not allowed to enter the promised land.

In view of the above events, Moses was a type of Christ, both providing water to the people. On this subject, Saint Paul tells us, "Our ancestors all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness." (1 Cor. 10.4-5)

Water is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. On this subject, the Catholic Church teaches us, "The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth. just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit." (1 Cor 12.13) Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified (Jn 19.34; 1 Jn 5.8) as its source and welling up in us to eternal life." (Jn 4.10-14, 7.38; Ex 17.1-6; Is 55.1; Zech 14.8; 1 Cor 10.4; Rev 21.6; 22.17) (CCC 694)

God’s Love in the Heart
Today's Second Reading (Rm 5.1-2, 5-8) informs us that God's love was poured into our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit that has been given to us through Christ. The Divine love of God assures salvation to those who are justified. Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rm 5.1). Through peace with God, our reconciliation replaces our alienation that was caused by the disobedience of Adam.

Jesus at the Well

Tired of His journey, Jesus sat on the ground by Jacob's well (Jn 4.6). (Jacob's well is located between "Tell el-Balatah" and "Askar.") During that time, while the disciples had gone to the city to buy food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water (Jn 4.7-8). Jesus asked her to give Him water. At this point, the Samaritan woman said to Jesus, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jn 4.9). In those days, it was unheard of for a rabbi to speak to a woman in public, even worst for a Jew to request water from a Samaritan. The Jewish people considered the Samaritans to be unclean, this including their utensils for eating and drinking. Therefore it appears that Jesus was asking to drink from an unclean water jar? Yet, Jesus was not bothered a bit by such scruples.

The Hesitation

Knowing the Samaritan woman's hesitation, Jesus told her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." (Jn 5.10) What is the gift of God that Jesus was speaking about? It was Jesus Himself! But who was Jesus to the Samaritan woman at that moment? All she could see was a thirsty Jewish man who had been travelling.

What is Living Water?
And what was this living water that the thirsty Traveller was offering her? The Samaritan woman must have understood "living water" to mean running water versus water from a well or cistern water. But is this what Jesus was telling her? In the Old Testament, when a reference was made to "living water," it meant "water of life." It meant Divine vitality, revelation and wisdom (Jer 2.13; Zech 14.8; Eze 47.9; Prov 13.14).

Literal Meaning

As Nicodemus literally took the Words of Jesus when he was told that he had to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God (Jn 3.4- 6), the woman also literally took the Words of Jesus. Unable to logically understand Jesus, she said, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his children and his flocks drank from it?" (Jn 3.11-12).

How Could Jesus get Water?

Since Jesus had no means of getting water out of the well, where would He get his "living water" from? When considering how great Jacob was in the eyes of God and the people, and that he had no better source of water than the well that was present, how could Jesus offer to give better water?

Ordinary Water

To her question, Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life" (Jn 3.13-4).

Thirst of Wisdom

In Sirach 24.20-1, we read that he who drinks wisdom will thirst again. One could never satisfy the desire for wisdom. But, on the contrary, through the Sacrament of Baptism, the water that Jesus will give, will have the fountain of eternal life within him.

Understanding "living water" to mean never to thirst again, the Samaritan woman asked Jesus for some of it so she would never have to go back to the well to draw water. (Jn. 3.15) What followed was a conversion in which Jesus revealed to the woman that she had five husbands and that she was now living with another man (Jn 3.16- 8).

A Prophet

Jesus' reply to the request of the woman for living water was intended to show her that He possessed superhuman knowledge. This provided the woman with sufficient enlightenment to perceive that the Words of Jesus must have had a greater meaning. Surprised, the woman said to Jesus, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet" (Jn 3.19). Now, the woman no longer saw a Jewish man before her, but rather, a prophet.

Place of Worship

This provided the woman with a perfect opportunity to settle a long standing controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans regarding the proper place of sacrificial worship (Gen 12.7, 33.20; Deut 27.4). The woman said to Jesus, "Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem" (Jn 3.20).

The Hour is coming

To this, Jesus responded, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem" (Jn 3.21). The response from Jesus indicated that soon, it will make no difference who is right or who is wrong. For "the Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Dei Filius 3 DS 3008). Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries" (CCC 66).

Manner of Worship

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him" (Jn 3.21-22). In other words, in Judaism, God's revelation was safeguarded. But the Samaritans, although they had good faith, they preserved the truth in a distorted form. Salvation came through the Jewish people. The proof was Jesus Himself, He being Jewish. Through Jesus was the fulfillment of the expected Messiah.

When Jesus said that "the hour is coming," He was referring to His glorification, the "hour" when His Church would be instituted. The final sacrifice will have been made, the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

God is Spirit

Jesus said, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (Jn 3.24). These words are echoed in the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians. "The first man, Adam, became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15.45). Christ is the life-giving Spirit in the sense that His actions are life-giving. God is Spirit in the sense that He gives the Spirit. Equally, God is light and love (1 Jn 1.5, 4.8). That is why the believers must worship God in "spirit and truth," in the truth as thought by the Spirit who guides and teaches.

The Messiah

At that moment, the woman indicated that she knew that the Messiah was coming and that He would proclaim all things to the people (Jn 3.25). She remembered the Words of God, "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command" (Deut 18.18). Having perceived that Jesus was a prophet over and above being Jewish, the woman now suspected that He might be the promised Messiah. To this, Jesus answered, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you" (Jn 3.26). Jesus affirmed the fulfillment of the words spoken through Isaiah, "Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore, in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I" (Is 52.6).

The Disciples

During the Gospel Reading, we then heard that the disciples returned and were astonished that Jesus was speaking to a woman. Following that, the woman left and returned to the city, leaving behind her water jar. For she had no more need for it because she had come to the source of living water. Once in the city, the woman invited the people to come and see Jesus who told her everything that she had done. Her words echoed the words of Philip to Nathanael, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote" (Jn 1.45).

My Food is…

In the meantime, the disciples were urging Jesus to eat some food (Jn 3.31).To this Jesus answered, "I have food to eat that you do not know about”.

So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat? My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work" (Jn 3.31-4). It is obvious that the disciples did not understand the full meaning of what Jesus was saying. The words of Jesus summed up His entire career. He came to do the will of His Father who sent Him, even to death on the Cross. In Jesus was found perfect obedience, to the last drop of blood.

The Gospel Reading ended by telling us that the people came from the city to hear Jesus. As they stated, "It is no longer because of what (the woman) said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world." (Jn 3.42) Not only did the Samaritans come to believe, they also recognized the fulfillment of the Messiah in Jesus.

Practical Conclusion
From today's readings, we are reminded that as children of God, as members of the Body of Christ, we too have been called to do the Divine Will of He who has called us to share in the life-giving Spirit through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism. As Jesus was called to complete His work, we too are called to complete our calling through our perseverance in the living faith. To persevere necessitates our ongoing reception of the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist as the means of maintaining our righteousness before the Lord God.

With the approach of Easter that commemorates the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we now, more than ever, have an obligation to reinstate our holiness through the Holy Sacraments that have been given to us by Jesus Himself. Let us keep this in mind as we enter the Third Week in Lent.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


2nd Sunday of Lent-Year: A
Gen 12.1-4; 2 Tim 1.8b-10; Mt 17.1-9

Costly Cosmetic Surgeries
Today cosmetic surgeries are a normal procedure to enhance one’s personality. At times these expensive surgeries can also distort one’s appearance. I met a lady who had a plastic surgery and now she is fighting in the court for compensation for distorting her face. She claims Rs. 10,00,000 (CAD $ 20,000) as compensation because the doctor who had promised her that her face would be more beautiful had in fact disfigured it. She is suffering and is unable to come in public. Yet, I encouraged her to face the reality. Well, she has coped with the situation to a certain extent frequenting some counseling sessions.

What is Human Beauty?
Of course modern markets encourage us to transform ourselves into beautiful persons. What is being beautiful? Is it not being beautiful inside our being, in our soul than being beautiful in our appearance? There was recently a program in NDTV about appearances. Yes, majority were convinced that the external appearance gave them a sense of confidence and security. What about the inner assurance and confidence? Can we get that just being beautiful for a while? The truth is that when you live with a person or persons for a few days, don’t you reveal yourself fully who you are on the inside?

Lent invites us to be transfigured from inside out
The account of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ as recorded here in Mark (parallel passages are found in Matthew 17.1-3 and Luke 9.28-36) is a demonstration to three witnesses that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be. In all three accounts of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, we are given the names of the three disciples who accompanied Jesus and who stood as human witnesses to the glory that was Christ's. There were also three heavenly witnesses, Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God from heaven. Therefore, the Old Testament law of three witnesses required to attest to any fact (Deut 19.15) was satisfied both in earth and in heaven.

Metamorphosis
The word "transfigured" is a very interesting word. The Greek word is "metamorpho" and it means to transform, literally or figuratively to metamorphose, or to change. The word is a verb that means to change into another form. It also means to change the outside to match the inside. The prefix "meta" means to change and the "morphe" means form. In the case of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ it means to match the outside with the reality of the inside. To change the outward so that it matches the inward reality. Jesus' divine nature was "veiled" (Heb 10.20) in human form and the transfiguration was a glimpse of that glory. Therefore, the transfiguration of Jesus Christ displayed the ‘Shekinah’ the glory of God incarnate in the Son. The voice of God attesting to the truth of Jesus' Sonship was the second time God's voice was heard. The first time was at Jesus' baptism into His public ministry in the presence of John the Baptist (Mt 3.7; Mk 1.11; Lk 3.22).

Glimpse of Glory
Therefore, the transfiguration of Jesus Christ was a unique display of His divine character and a glimpse of the glory, which Jesus had before He came to earth in human form. This truth is emphasized for us in a passage in the Apostle Paul's letter to Philippians. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who, being in the form (morphe) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form (morphe) of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2.5-11).

The Son of God came to earth in the form of a man to be the true servant of God and to gift mankind with the greatest gift ever given, eternal life. The transfiguration of Jesus Christ was a visible sign in the presence of reliable witnesses of the reality of the power of God and the glory, which is Christ Jesus

The Mountain
The traditional location of the Transfiguration is on Mount Tabor, which is about a six day walk from Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus had been with His disciples prior to this event. In Caesarea Philippi, Peter had said to Jesus with faith believing, "You are the Christ, the Son the living God." (Mt 16.16) After this declaration Jesus confirmed its truth, and told His disciples that it was not yet the time for them to tell others that He was the Messiah and He began to share that He must go to Jerusalem to suffer, be killed and be raised again to life on the third day (see Mt 16.21). The disciples were saddened and somewhat disillusioned by this news. Peter even tried to rebuke Jesus and prevent Him from allowing such terrible things to happen, but Jesus rebuked Peter for his carnality. Peter and the other disciples expected that since Jesus was the Messiah, His glorious Kingdom would be imminent. But Jesus taught that first comes suffering, then comes the glory and the reward (Mt 17.24-27). Later, Peter finally learned this lesson and his epistle reflects it (see I Pet 1.6-8, 11; 4.12-5.11).

The Three Disciples
The disciples closest to Jesus, Peter, James and John, were likely the one’s most saddened by the news of His coming death, and they were the ones Jesus chose to come with Him to the mountain and witness His glory. It must have been a great encouragement to them. As Jesus was praying and having communion with God His Father, His appearance changed drastically. The three men watched with amazement and awe as Jesus shone with heavenly brightness, so much so, that there was no adequate earthly description for it. In Mark’s Gospel the brightness is compared to exceedingly white snow, or something cleaner than anything possible on earth. Luke’s description says Jesus was white and glistening, and we read from Matthew’s account, that Jesus’ face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as light. Many years later when the risen and glorified Lord Jesus appeared to John on Patmos he described that His "countenance was like the sun shining in its strength" (Rev 1.16b).

Prayer Transforms
On the Transfiguration mount, the drastic change in Jesus’ appearance occurred when He was praying and having communion with God. To a lesser degree the countenance of Moses had also changed when he had been in the presence of God (Ex 34.29, 30). What is on the inside shows on the outside, like when Stephen, the first Christian martyr was testifying to the truth, his face was like that of an angel (Acts 6.15).

As Jesus was praying in this glorious state, Moses and Elijah appeared in some visible form, talking with Jesus about His coming departure that He would accomplish in Jerusalem (Lk 9.31). God the Father had revealed to them what would happen to Jesus. Their words were surely meant to strengthen Jesus for the trials and suffering He willingly was soon to endure.

Peter’s Excitement
Peter was so excited to see these great men of old, that He inappropriately made the suggestion of making three tents, one for each of them, likely so they could stay longer, and undoubtedly so Peter could speak with them too. Peter may also have thought that this was the beginning of the Messiah’s earthly reign as king, but this was not God’s timing. God interrupted Peter by causing a bright, thick cloud to cover Jesus, Moses and Elijah, and saying very important words, similar to the words He spoke at Jesus’ baptism. "This is My beloved Son in whom I well pleased. Hear Him!" (Mt 17.5b; cf. 3.17) God desires that we listen to and obey Jesus, for He is far greater than Moses, the great Law-giver, or Elijah the great prophet. God wanted Peter to know that he could not put His Son on the same level of importance as Moses or Elijah. Also, the important thing is not just seeing wonderful sights and having great experiences, but what is more important is hearing the Word of the Lord. God emphatically commanded that we listen to Jesus!

Jesus Stands Alone
When the cloud lifted, Jesus stood alone. The three disciples had fallen in fear on their faces when they heard the voice of God, but Jesus touched them and told them not to be afraid. Then Jesus told them not to tell anyone about what had happened, until after He had arisen from the dead. Some people had already tried to forcibly make Jesus king, and if the people were told about what Peter, James and John witnessed, then they might once again try to do it, but it was not the plan of God at this time.

From the Transfiguration we see three great Testimonies about the Greatness and superiority of Jesus.

God the Father authenticated the Divinity of Jesus by His audible voice.

Moses and Elijah representing the Law and the Prophets testified by their presence that Jesus was from above and He was the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets.

The three disciples were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ glorious state. This experience had a great effect on these disciples and their testimony of it had a great effect on all the others to strengthen their faith. Peter never forgot it. In his epistle he recalls the Transfiguration saying. “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (II Pet 1.16b). Likewise, when John wrote his Gospel, he recalled. "we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." (Jn 1.14) In fact, John’s whole Gospel emphasizes the Deity of Jesus and the glory of His Person (Cfr. Jn 2.11; 7.39; 11.4; 12.23; 13.31-32; 20.31).

On the mount that day, we see represented and combined, the two Covenants of God. The New Covenant represented through Peter, James, and John who would enter into this covenant through the work of Jesus; and the Old Covenant was represented by Moses and Elijah. The Saints of old, must have looked with excited anticipation to Jesus - the fulfilment of the Law and the prophets (Lk 24.27; Heb 1.1) and the ushering in of the New Covenant of Grace through the work Jesus would accomplish.

Practical Conclusion
The Transfiguration revealed the plan of God for redemption and the importance and necessity of Jesus’ crucifixion. Moses and Elijah encouraged Jesus in the work He would accomplish for the salvation of the world. The Law of Moses could not save anyone, nor could prophecies, but Jesus alone, of whom the prophecies spoke, was the Redeemer of sinful mankind.

The Transfiguration revealed the superiority of Jesus over Moses and the prophets.
It served as a pledge or foretaste of the future glory that Jesus would attain by obediently suffering and going to the Cross.

It served as a dim picture of the glorious state awaiting the followers of Jesus, those who have been redeemed by His precious blood, will one day attain when our citizenship is in heaven. For Jesus Christ "will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body" (Phil 3.21).

In the Transfiguration we see the King of righteousness in His glory; we see the glory of His Person, the glory of His kingdom; the glory of His Nature; and even the glory of His submission to the will and plan of God that He go to Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of evil men, yet we also see the glory of His power. Jesus had the power to prevent His crucifixion, but because of His great love for mankind, He willingly suffered and bore the sins of the world upon Himself that we might have forgiveness of our sins and eternal life in heaven with Him.

The Transfiguration was a glorious revelation and a glorious experience for both Jesus and the three disciples to witness. It had a glorious outcome, for in it we see that, even though Jesus was to die, the outcome was predetermined, for He would be the Victor over death and even be glorified in death. Jesus is the glorious King indeed and He is worthy to be enthroned on our hearts and be King over our lives.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


First Sunday Of Lent : Year: A

Gen 2.7-9; 16-18, 2-5, 3.1-7; Rm 5.12-19; Mt 4.1-11


The Accident

Two employees of a soft wear company died on spot at Kashimira, close to our Parish at Mira Road St. Joseph’s (India) on 16th January 2008. People were shocked. All three didn’t wear helmet while riding the motorcycle. In spite of the warnings I used to give to young people in my parish, when such incidents occur our heart breaks. There is no way we can convince people. Were they tempted to travel with that velocity? Or were they overtaking a long vehicle? I am not here to judge. But my contention is that temptations just arise from nowhere. We need to be on our guard. Temptation to cross a road without attention to speeding vehicles, temptation to do things that are not healthy for our life, temptation to overdo certain things can really land us into greater troubles. This Sunday reminds us that even Jesus was tempted, but he faced all these temptations squarely with the power of prayer and fasting. Can we take a lesson at the inception of lent?

And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him (Mk 1.12-13).

The Temptation of Christ
So, begins and ends Mark's account of the wilderness temptations. Mark's concise summary helps establish the setting for the temptation of Jesus. The wilderness temptation is the first recorded event that follows the baptism of Jesus. It's important to review Christ's baptism to better understand the nature of Satan's attacks.

Baptism of Jesus
When Jesus was baptized God declared, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Mt 3.17; Mk 1.11). Satan challenged this declaration in the first two temptations.

The wilderness
Following the baptism, Mark indicated that the Spirit “immediately” led Jesus into the wilderness.

The word “wilderness” refers to deserted areas in the unpopulated wilds of Palestine. It is often translated as “desert.” Mark indicates Jesus was "with the wild beasts," presumably isolated from the distractions of humanity (Mk 1.13).

Jesus fasts 40 days
Jesus “ate nothing” for 40 days prior to the temptation (Lk 4.2). Moses and Elijah endured similar fasts before receiving divine revelations from God (Ex 34.28; I Kgs 19.8). And after He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Mt 4.2-3).

The First Temptation
Satan tried to place doubt in the mind of Jesus with the words “If you are the Son of God.” Matthew shows that the devil came at the end of Jesus' fast.
 
The Trap
The danger of this temptation was not in making bread. Jesus was not under a prohibition from miraculously creating food. On two occasions Jesus used his power to create bread for a multitude of people (cfr. Mk 6.35-44; Mk 8.1-21). The real peril lay in Satan's proposed reason for creating bread. That reason is “If you are the Son of God”. Satan was challenging Christ's credentials.

Jesus quotes Moses
But He answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4.4). Jesus immediately perceived the real danger, and responded with a passage from Deuteronomy 8.3. In that passage, Moses reminded the Israelites that God humbled them in the wilderness when He provided manna from heaven.

His humble attitude
This quote gives insight into Christ's mindset during this ordeal. His reliance on God's will is contrasted with reliance on temporal things, like food. Jesus humbly relied on God. He rendered obedience by not doubting God's declaration, “This is my beloved Son.”

The Second Temptation
Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down. For it is written, 'He will give His angels charge concerning you,' and, 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’” (Mt 4.5-6).

Satan took Jesus to Jerusalem to stand on the temple. There Satan challenged Jesus to throw himself down. Although the exact spot is not given, Josephus recorded that Herod's royal portico towered 450 feet over the Kedron Valley.

Satan quotes scripture
Having lost the first challenge to Jesus, Satan appealed to scripture by quoting Psalm 91.11-12. When isolated from other passages, this proposal seems reasonable. If Jesus were God's Son, then scripture promised to save Him.

Jesus Responds
Deceptively, Satan tried inciting Jesus to test the scripture. Jesus addressed the real issue by quoting Deuteronomy 6.16. Jesus said to him, "On the other hand it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Mt 4.7).

Testing God
To commit this act would have tested God, not scripture. Putting God to the test does not refer to an exam. Rather, the idea of “experimenting with God” is contained in this phrase.

Had He fallen to this temptation, Jesus would have substituted humble faith in God's guidance with a blatant challenge to the Father's loving-kindness. God protects His children, but also expects them to exercise sound judgment.

Practical lessons
The contrast between the first and second temptations is instructive.
• The first challenged Jesus to doubt his position. Satan tried to undermine Christ's confidence.
• The second encouraged him to be over-confident in his standing with God. So confident that he would recklessly endanger himself to prove God would save him.

Personal Application
The two temptations of doubt and of recklessness are real today. A faithful Christian may doubt her salvation for lack of feeling or perceiving God's presence in her life. This is the danger of the first temptation.

The second is more sinister. A disobedient Christian may live in sin, recklessly presuming that God will forgive, regardless of his actions. Paul warned of this attitude when he wrote "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Rm 6.1-2).

Jesus' method of Interpretation
The second temptation gives special insight into how Jesus interpreted scripture. Jesus interpreted scriptures in light of other passages, so that they harmonized.

Satan isolated a passage from Psalms 91.11-12, and suggested that it applied to the limited situation he presented Jesus with (throwing himself from the temple). When isolated from other passages Satan's suggested interpretation appears logical.

Jesus quickly showed that this perverted interpretation did not harmonize with scripture. He quoted Deuteronomy 6.16 which reads, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test."

Trends Today
The primary cause of church division today is improper interpretation of scripture. The first violation of Jesus' method of interpretation is to isolate a passage from other scriptures. The second violation of Christ's method is to interpret a passage outside it's proper context.

Read for yourself
Relying on another's interpretation is dangerous. Had Jesus relied on Satan's false interpretation, He would have failed. The Christians in Acts 17.11 were “examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Even though they had apostles teaching them, they took responsibility for verifying the accuracy of the things they were being taught. This responsibility falls on each Christian, not just church leaders.

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things will I give you if you fall down and worship me" (Mt 4.8-9).

The Third Temptation
Since no mountain stands high enough to view all the world's kingdoms, it's likely that Satan exercised some supernatural power to show Christ “all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time” (Lk 4.5).

Satan's authority
Jesus did not question Satan's authority to grant the world's kingdoms. Bear in mind, however, that Jesus did not directly address Satan's apparent deceptions in the first two temptations. Either Satan possessed this authority, or he was validating his reputation as “the father of lies” (Jn 8.44). In either case, Satan's authority was not the issue. His suggestion violated the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex 20.3).

Jesus Responds
Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Mt 4.10). Jesus quotes Moses; this time from Deuteronomy 6.13.

Gospel differences
The order of the 2nd and 3rd temptations is inverted in Matthew and Luke. Which account is chronological? Many commentators believe that Matthew's account is chronological, while Luke's is topical. This opinion is founded on two facts. Matthew 4.5 and 4.11 contain the word "then" when transitioning through this event. Luke connects the temptations with the word "and," which contains no chronological inference. Jesus' response to the third temptation strengthens this view. The words "Begone, Satan!" likely signal an end to this trial.

Angels Minister to Jesus
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Mt 4.11).

When Satan left, angels attended to the needs of Jesus. The next angelic appearance during Christ's ministry occurred when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. An angel appeared in the garden to strengthen Him (Lk 22.43).

Was Jesus Tempted?
Some assert that Jesus could not be tempted by citing the following passage.

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone (Jas 1.13).

Two claims
Two claims are given to support the above conclusion.
1. Jesus was God in the flesh.
2. Since God cannot be tempted, Jesus was immune to temptation.

The True Claim
The first claim agrees with scripture. Jesus was indeed God in the flesh. See John 1.1-5, 14 and Colossians 2.15-18 for this evidence.

The False Claim
The second assertion does not agree with scripture. Twice the writer of Hebrews indicated that Jesus was tempted. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted (Heb 2.18). For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4.15).

Practical Conclusion
Jesus was tempted by Satan, and was in fact tempted in all the ways that we are tempted today. Yet He did not sin. One reason Jesus is our perfect high priest is because he can sympathize with us. He knows how it felt to be tempted.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


6TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A

Sirach 15:15–20; 1 Corinthians 2:6–10; Matthew 5:17–37

Jesus’s radical approach to the Ten Commandments not only to its essence but wants to present them in a perfect way giving a very clear explanation and referring to its innermost essential perfect sense. What Jesus says about what has been taught in the past is uncomfortably clear: those rules are not enough to achieve perfection of love. His followers are allowed no anger, no abusive language, no lustful thoughts, no divorce, no oaths. It is hard to avoid the demands of these teachings. We try to water them down at times, claiming they apply only to certain people or are meant as ideals. It doesn’t work. Jesus spoke them to the crowd, not to a specially chosen elite.
Jesus makes the claim that God’s law does not go far enough, that it is inadequate. His willingness to overrule the law of God is a sign of the divine power and authority with which Jesus taught. And that power and authority is the guarantee that somehow or other, I can, indeed, live as he calls me to do. The reason that I can is my Baptism. In Baptism, I am united with the Risen Lord, the One who has overcome death. Nothing, then, is truly impossible in living as he did. I can do it if I be willing to try.

The Pharisees considered the Mosaic law to be the summary of all wisdom, human and divine, a complete and sure guide of conduct, an assurance of good relations with God. This value of the law Jesus did not accept—as is evident from his own non-observance of the Sabbath rules and the laws of Levitical cleanliness. Yet in the beginning of our Gospel today, Jesus asserts that his mission is not to annul or destroy the Mosaic law but rather to fulfill it or bring the law to final perfection. He meant that his disciples were to follow exactly his complete and perfect understanding of the law. He explains what he means by six examples (four in this Gospel and two next Sunday). In each of these six examples, Jesus presents an antithesis between the old understanding of the law and his pronouncement of the perfect law. There is no easy, consistent pattern, however. What we understand here is that the law of Moses was good enough, but Jesus gave to this law a perfect interpretation.

In the first example, Jesus not only prohibits murder but even anger, which can lead to murder. Then he insists that fraternal relations are more important than cultic duties; that is, we must first be reconciled with our neighbor before we bring our offering to God’s altar. There must be extra effort on the part of one who gets angry to rectify this disorder in order that he can live peacefully with his family members or neighbours.

In the second example, Jesus not only prohibits adultery, but also lustful desires that can lead to adultery. Again, he insists on internal disposition not just external acts. This admonition server very well to all who are trying to trivialize the seriousness of this sin. In this modern world we know how people can get addicted to mass media junk that can invade our minds and hearts innumerable ways. Jesus wants wholehearted purity than just avoiding a big sin.

In the third example, he takes up the question of divorce. Regarding divorce, there were two governing views at the time: the conservative opinion (Shammai) which only permitted divorce in the case of adultery, or the liberal opinion (Hillel) which permitted divorce for lesser causes. Jesus rejects both views and does not permit divorce for any reason at all. Marriage is for life. There is no separation. Once married they both become one flesh.

In the fourth example, Jesus not only prohibits false oaths, but also implies that truthfulness should be secured by the inner integrity of the person, without the deceits and lack of trust surrounding some oaths and vows of the time. False oaths often make people believe, yet in reality more insistence on something would mean it contradicts its spirit.

In the fifth example—which will be read next week—our Lord rejects “an eye for an eye” retaliation of revenge and proposes non-resistance. In the last example, Jesus teaches not only love of neighbor but also love of enemies, after the example of God who sends rain on good as well as bad people.

The Lord said, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees you will not enter God’s Kingdom. This is because he is not concerned with negative legalisms but with positively doing the will of God. He is not concerned with carefully following complicated legalisms but with loving attitudes after Jesus’ own model. His first concern in not with the complexities of law but with the demanding ideal of love, generosity, kindness, patience and peace. In a word, his morality is internal, all encompassing and loving. This helps us understand the meaning of todays Gospel.

Paul did not try to use impressive words that showed great wisdom (2.1-4). But there was great wisdom in his words, although most people in the present age would not recognise that wisdom. That is why Paul called that wisdom a mystery, in other words, a secret. God had sent Paul to declare that secret knowledge, in public. And still people could not understand it.

Paul’s mystery is all about what true greatness really is. True greatness is called glory; it belongs to God alone. The mystery is that, at a future time, God has a plan to share his glory with all his people (1 Cor 15.51-52).

In Corinth there was a problem to understand what Paul was teaching them. This is what was happening with the church in Corinth. They were seeking wisdom, but they were doing so in the wrong way. Although they had committed to Christ and received the Holy Spirit, they were seeking generic or worldly wisdom rather than God’s wisdom. And because they were seeking generic wisdom, which in their day was made up of complicated philosophical ideals, they felt like the gospel message that Paul had delivered to them was too simple. Likely they were embarrassed about the seemingly weak idea of a crucified Messiah and they wanted something more, so they sought out the wisdom of their culture.

An example: we all know what it takes to lose weight – you must eat healthy and exercise. It’s very simple; we’re just not willing to do it. Exercising we maintain our health. In the same manner spiritual health is to be promoted with our constant efforts. This will turn out to be a great happiness and joyful experience to all who benefit from you. One thing is theory that in order to lose weight we need to do a set of exercises; the next most important thing is to do the exercise which is beneficial to us. Here is the most important part we need to play; that is leaving aside an ideal rule, we need to get into working out a suitable work out for our body; then the result will follow. This is what Jesus meant exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees and Scribes.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A

Isaiah 58.7–10; 1 Corinthians 2.1–5; Matthew 5.13–16

God wants a kind of fast that is accompanied by the loosing of the shackles of wickedness, lifting the yoke of oppression, feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the poor, clothing the naked, and helping the needy neighbor. Those who thus practice social justice are assured of guidance, healing, and a protective escort. “Your righteousness” may mean the abovementioned acts of mercy or it may mean the righteousness of God which is imputed to those who believe.

Prophet Isaiah’s prediction that the godly one is assured that whenever he calls, the LORD will answer … “Here I am.” If he will eliminate oppression, stop pointing… the finger in accusation or in scoffing, and cease from mudslinging and slander, if he will alleviate human need, both spiritual and physical, then God promises that his night will turn to a bright day. He will enjoy guidance, abundant supply of good things, health and strength, beauty and fruitfulness, and national restoration.

There is a growing consensus of opinion that there is one . . . fundamental and essential need: a true and deep love of self, a genuine and joyful self-acceptance, an authentic self-esteem, which result in an interior sense of celebration: ‘It’s good to be me; I am very happy to be me.

What would Christ say about all this? Very simply, he tells us that self-love is not only good, it is also the starting point for following him: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mat 19.19).

When we are light within then that light shines outside of us. When we live in darkness, then there is no light within and no way to enlightenment.

Calling us to be the light and salt of the earth is a fundamental calling of Christ to be resourceful and lovable around us. Love and kindness can transform our lives and we are capable of shedding light on the dark corners of our life.

Today’s Gospel strongly affirms this attitude. Jesus himself cries out to all his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” The point we easily miss is that Jesus does not tell us to become the salt of the earth or to make ourselves the light of the world. Rather he affirms that we are salt and light already, because Jesus has called us, and we have responded to his call. Most of the world has not heard this call of Jesus or has not responded to it. Jesus wants us to know that by our faith in him, by his grace and new life, we are salt and light. So Jesus wants us to manifest what we are: “Your light must shine before others.”

Inner Strength
He begins with the assurance that our essential salvation and intrinsic goodness is from God. Through baptism and our faith, we are already given that wondrous relationship of love and acceptance by God as his sons and daughters. That relationship is constant and almost indestructible; it establishes our fundamental value and goodness by itself; it does not depend on our social position or our natural abilities. Then, in a dozen different ways, Paul urges us to deepen, to grow, to progress in that reality, to live according to our status as children of God. For example, Paul tells us that we are children of light; therefore, we should walk as children of light.

Our Mission

Well in the Gospel of today, Jesus calls us to be the light of the world and salt of the earth. This great invitation turns out to be a great hope in the age of darkness and tastelessness. When we are capable of shedding light on darkness, then we see all that is inappropriate, and we correct ourselves. We can invite others into this light. It is Christ who is the light of the world makes us bright in our approach to the world and people. Only a changed man can change the world. This change could be brought about by creating a new man, a citizen of the world, by training the mind in moral and spiritual discipline.

This short gospel today must be an eye opener to all of us to be help to the other. Both salt and light have the ingredients of joy and happiness.

Paul on his part wanted the Corinthians to get back in touch with how the essence of his message had come alive among them. Paul saw how easy it was for them to slip into the values of a society that esteemed a person for learning or wealth, for status and fame. Paul wanted them to remember "the mystery," how they had experienced a love of God and community that had revealed the utter emptiness of those societal standards.

When we are too worldly in our approach to life the light within us dims and the salt loses its taste.

When Jesus taught his audience was composed of Israelites. As God's chosen people, they possessed the Word of God, and were supposed to be salt and light in the world. Gradually, throughout Jesus' teaching ministry, he refined this idea that each one who followed him was to have a spiritual impact on those around them. He sent them out to all the towns around them to preach repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of God. Christ had made it clear at the end of his earthly ministry that the gospel was to have a universal application. He commanded his followers to go and teach all nations, to baptize them, and teach them everything he had taught. (Mat 28.18-20). This has properly been taken as a mandate for all Christians to spread the gospel of Christ to everyone. This includes both concepts of salt and light. We are to do as much good in the name of Christ as we can, and we are to share the light of the gospel with as many as we can.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

God will send His messenger, a promise that had an early and partial fulfillment in John the Baptist, but awaits a later and complete fulfillment when Elijah (4.5) will prepare the way of the Lord, . . . the Messenger of the covenant whom they desired. The irony here is that when He later arrived (His First Advent), the nation of Israel did not delight in Him but crucified Him instead. In verse 3.2–4 The day of His coming will be the Second Advent. The Lord will come in judgment on sin, and who will be able to stand? This purifying ministry, pictured by Christ’s cleansing of the temple, awaits final fulfillment at His Second Coming. The sons of Levi (priests) will be purified so that they can make offerings of holiness and righteousness that are pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old.

The Gospels proclaim it is the Precursor, St John the Baptist who was born 6 months before Jesus, that God sent to prepare His way. Putting these evangelical facts together, we can comprehend the words of the Prophet Malachi. The Lord God promised that He would send a Precursor to prepare His way. Since there is only 6 months between the birth of St John the Baptist and Jesus it is clear that the prophecy meant that suddenly after the Precursor, the Lord Himself will come. So, soon after the Baptist’s birth, God entered His temple.

The Glory of the Lord will appear in the temple, signifying the coming of Christ to the temple to clean it of all idolatry and corruption. But before he does this, he will come to fulfil the law. That is what we celebrate today, the coming of the Lord to the temple and presenting himself in the temple.

Mary comes to the temple with Joseph bring the baby Jesus. This feast is also regarded as the feast of the purification of Mary in the temple.

The words of the prophet Malachi are fulfilled in the poor parents presenting their firstborn son along with their humble sacrifice of two turtledoves. (Now I am sending my messenger— he will prepare the way before me; And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3.1) The mother of God – the Theotokos, in no need of ritual purification – and her husband did not set themselves above the Law.

The Gospel of Luke speaks of Anna the Prophetess and Simeon who praise the coming of the Lord to the temple. In Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II wrote that Mary heard in Simeon’s words something akin to a second Annunciation, “for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely, in misunderstanding and sorrow. While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful.”

After celebrating the Nativity of our Lord, with its splendor in both the Church and the popular culture, it would be easy for one’s mind to drift and overlook the significance of the fortieth day after the Lord’s birth. The Catholic Church gives very significant importance to this feast.

What is the real significance of the presentation of the Lord in the Temple? According to the Mosaic law a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain three and thirty days "in the blood of her purification"; for a maid-child the time which excluded the mother from sanctuary was even doubled. When the time (forty or eighty days) was over the mother was to "bring to the temple a lamb for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle dove for sin"; if she was not able to offer a lamb, she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons; the priest prayed for her and so she was cleansed. (Lev12.2-8).
The "just and devout" man of Jerusalem who according to the narrative of St. Luke, greeted the infant Saviour on His presentation in the Temple (Lk 2. 25-35). He was one of the pious Jews who were waiting for the "consolation of Israel" and, though advanced in years, he had received a premonition from the Holy Ghost, Who was in him, that he would not die before he had seen the expected Messiah. This promise was fulfilled when through guidance of the Spirit he came to the Temple on the day of the Presentation, and taking the Child Jesus in his arms, he uttered the Canticle Nunc dimittis (Lk 2.29-32), and after blessing the Holy Family he prophesied concerning the Child, Who "is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel", and regarding the mother whose "soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed".

Practical Conclusion
Jesus is brought to the temple to fulfil the law. Later in his life Jesus spends lot of time in the temple and on one occasion purifies it of all sorts of worldliness that had entered the temple. On our part visiting a church or a sacred place must evoke in us the sentiments of love, devotion, adoration and prayer in us. This helps our soul to direct attention to heavenly things in spite of living in the midst of worldly affairs.

Jesus is the complete fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. Jesus once had asked his disciples, who do the people say that “I am?” Some say Elijah, Jonah and others says one of the prophets. Jesus fulfills in us a great role of the saviour. He leads us, guides us and inspires us in our daily tasks and works.

When we have Jesus with us, we have fulfilled the law. Jesus is above the law himself as he noted often during his life that “the son of man is the Lord of sabbath” (Mt 12.1-8).

This is day also is dedicated to the Religious men and women for their consecration through the vows. Candlemas Day is another name for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Forty days after His birth, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for the rites of purification and dedication as prescribed by the Torah. According to the Book of Leviticus (12.1-4), when a woman bore a male child, she was considered “unclean” for seven days. On the eighth day, the boy was circumcised. The mother continued to stay at home for 33 days for her blood to be purified. After the 40 days, the mother and the father came to the temple for the rite of purification, which included the offering of a sacrifice — a lamb for a holocaust (burnt offering) and a pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering, or for a poor couple who could not afford a lamb, two pigeons or two turtledoves. Note Joseph and Mary made the offering of the poor (Lk 2.24).

We also remember our parents presenting us at church for our baptism. We were dedicated to God, and given the name, “Christian.” We, too, received a lit candle from the paschal candle, at which the priest said, “You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as a child of the light and keep the flame of faith alive in your heart. When the Lord comes, may you go out to meet Him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom” (Rite of Christian Initiation). Therefore, as a light, each of us must bear witness to Our Lord.

Let this feast of the presentation of the Lord in the Temple enlighten us to be his servants and bearers of his kingdom.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A

Isaiah 9.1-4; I Corinthians 1.10-13, 17; Matthew 4.12-23

Now we are carried forward to the coming of the Messiah. The northern territory of Israel, called the land of Naphtali, which had been brought into contempt by the invaders, will be made glorious (Galilee of the Gentiles was the Savior’s boyhood home and the scene of part of His public ministry). Christ’s First Advent brought light to Galilee. His Second Coming will bring joy to the nation and put an end to slavery and war. A precise prediction about the Messiah who would bring respite to the land of Naphtali, that is the land Galilee of the Gentiles.

Great Light
Through the Gospel of Matthew, we learn that Jesus choosing his first disciples moves quickly to his ministry (Mt 4.12-23). The prophet Isaiah announced a future of liberation and great joy for all of Galilee, through the image of light that dispels the darkness in which the people walk. The Gospel, quoting verbatim the same passage of the prophet Isaiah, presents Jesus as the Light thus fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy. He is the light that was promised to dispel the darkness of sin and to free man from the obscurity in which he is enclosed.

When Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been put in prison, He realized that this was a move to His own rejection. In rejecting the King’s forerunner, the people were, for all practical purposes, rejecting the King also. But it was not fear that drove Him north to Galilee but was going right into the center of Herod’s kingdom—the same king who had just imprisoned John.

In moving to Galilee of the Gentiles, He was showing that His rejection by the Jews would result in the gospel going out to the Gentiles. Jesus never thought of rejecting any people around him. He invited them all to listen to him. Those who rejected him perhaps did not know him or were doing so out of jealousy.

He moved to Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee, an area originally populated by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. From this time, Capernaum became His headquarters (Mat 4.14–16). Jesus’ move to Galilee was a fulfillment of Isaiah 9.1,2. The ignorant, superstitious Gentiles living in Galilee saw a great light—that is Christ, the Light of the world. From then on Jesus took up the message which John had preached: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It was a further call for moral renewal in preparation for His kingdom. The kingdom was near in the sense that the King was present.

He Chooses his Disciples

After which we find in Matthew’s account the call of the disciples Peter and Andrew. This is the second time Jesus called them. In John 1.35–42 they were called to salvation; here they are called to service. The first took place in Judea; this one in Galilee. Peter and Andrew were fishermen, but Jesus called them to be fishers of men. Their responsibility was to follow Christ. His responsibility was to make them successful fishers of men. Their following of Christ involved more than physical nearness. It included their imitation of the character of Christ. Theirs was to be a ministry of character. What they were was more important than what they said or did. Just as with Peter and Andrew, we are to avoid the temptation to substitute eloquence, personality, or clever arguments for true spirituality. In following Christ, the disciple learns to go where the fish are swimming, to use the proper lure, to endure discomfort and inconvenience, to be patient, and to keep oneself out of popularity. In verse 4.20 Peter and Andrew heard the call and responded immediately. In true faith, they left their nets. In true commitment and devotion, they followed Jesus.

The call came next to James and John (Mt 4.21-22). They, too, became instant disciples. Leaving not only their means of livelihood but their father as well, they acknowledged the priority of Jesus over all earthly ties. By responding to the call of Christ, these fishermen became key figures in the evangelization of the world. Had they remained at their nets; we would never have heard of them. Recognition of the Lordship of Christ makes all the difference in the work we do. He is the King of everything we do.

What do we learn from these accounts of the call of these disciples? It is a radical following of Christ who calls us at any time. These disciples were at work and were busy. They could have clearly replied to Jesus saying, ‘well, we finish our work, and go home and bid farewell to our family members and then come and follow you.’ Nothing of this sort happened. They immediately followed Jesus without a second thought.

He calls us to “repent” or to reform our lives. He does not merely present a set of rules to follow; he does not demand a retreat from the world; he does not demand a monkish existence; he does not require a specific devotional life of prayer, sacrifices, and special practices. We cannot narrow down his call to any one of these forms. His call is more universal and demanding: a metanoia, a total change of heart, a complete transformation of one’s life, a radical decision for God. Most of Jesus’ parables are a challenge compelling his hearers to respond to his message. Such a radical decision means that the mystery of Jesus becomes our plan of life, our interpretation of life’s meaning. It means that all our deepest questions about human life—the source of it, the sense of it, the model for it, its purpose, direction, goal, and hope—all of these are answered in the person of Christ.

Ministry
In verse 23 Matthew summarizes Jesus’ public life and work this way: he proclaimed, “the Gospel of the kingdom, and [cured] every disease and illness among the people.” He implies that the message of God’s kingdom that Jesus brought is aimed at all people in all their dimensions; not only at their soul, but at the whole person, body and soul, their whole concrete, suffering existence. For Jesus our Lord is not only a preacher and adviser; he is also a healer and helper. And he is for all people, not only for the strong, healthy, capable, and righteous, but also for the weak, sick, incapable, sinning, and outcast. He does not take away all human failure, illness, and tragedy; but he begins to transform the curse of human existence into blessing even now.

Mission Today
Today all over the world missionaries and followers of Christ do the same work. They proclaim and serve. They heal through their service and alleviate sufferings through their generosity.

Concretely today Jesus calls us when we are at work. He will see that we are his instruments of service and Gospel. Through this Gospel we learn how to respond to Jesus’ call. From the first disciples we come to know what real detachment for God’s kingdom is.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A
Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; I Cor 1.1-3; John 1.29-34

This first reding from Prophet Isaiah is a prediction about the suffering servant of God. These were prophecies uttered during the Babylonian exile to encourage the Jewish exiles to persevere in their trust in Yahweh, who would soon liberate them from Babylon, and consequently send them the long-expected Messiah, promised to Abraham.

The opening verses of this letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians have been chosen for the reading because they show the prophecy, read in the first reading, as fulfilled among the pagans, as well as emphasizing the purpose of the Messiah's coming: the sanctification and true enlightenment of all nations.

These verses from St. John’s Gospel present John the Baptist as a symbolic example of a ‘bridegroom’s friend’, as Christ’s excellent and exemplary witness. The Baptist’s pre-eminent witness was affirmed in two ways: firstly, regarding the content of his testimony and secondly with respect to its style.

After the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist and Christ the Lord, the liturgy shifts its focus on the mission of both. John the Baptist preaches the imminent arrival of God’s Kingdom and predicts about the one who is going to baptise them with fire and the Holy spirit and confesses that he is not worthy to carry his sandals. Jesus on his part just begins to prepare for his mission choosing his apostles and disciples. Both are fully engaged in their task and the path for God’s Kingdom is being prepared.
The preaching of John the Baptist was to reawaken in people the sense of urgency for something greater than what they have been seeking in their daily lives. There are a lot of ordinary longings in our lives, but there is one that is underlying all other longings. Ordinary longing signifies emptiness; it recognizes our limitations, our awareness of being incomplete.

John’s story of the baptism is considerably different from what we find in the other three gospels because John wants to refute the view held by some that John the Baptist was superior to Jesus. Thus, this writer does not give us an account of the particulars of Jesus’ baptism. Rather, he has John the Baptist give testimony to the meaning of the event. Almost the entire reading is composed of the Baptist’s words, which clearly say that the revelation of Jesus as the Lamb of God was the sole purpose of John’s mission. The gospel writer also concentrates on demonstrating that Jesus is indeed the servant of God described in the servant songs of Isaiah.

“Behold the Lamb of God”
This phrase “The Lamb of God,” John used twenty-nine times in the book of Revelation, and it has become one of the most precious titles of Christ. It sums up the love, sacrifice, suffering, triumph and final victory of Jesus Christ. While some think that John’s use of the term “Lamb of God” for Jesus may refer to the Passover lamb, the primary reference here is to the Suffering Servant who is described as like a lamb led to the slaughter. The Passover lamb had no connection to sin, yet for the sins of the people it was slaughtered; in the same way the Servant bore the guilt of us all and who takes away the sin of the world.

Atonement
After expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve faced a devastating future. Having opened the door to mortality and temporal life for us, they had closed the door to immortality and eternal life for themselves. Due to a transgression they had consciously chosen obeying the temptations of the evil one, they now faced physical death and spiritual banishment, separation from the presence of God forever. What were they to do? Would there be a way out of this plight?

Unfortunately, as a symbol of genuine repentance and faithful living, the ritualistic offering of unblemished little lambs didn’t work very well, as so much of the Old Testament reveals. The moral resolve that should have accompanied those sacrifices sometimes didn’t last long enough for the blood to dry upon the stones or on the temple altar. They did remember they were to regularly offer for a sacrifice unto God a pure, unblemished lamb, the first male born of their flock.

According to Old Testament law, animals were used as a blood sacrifice for sins. This ritual was used to demonstrate to the Israelites the seriousness of their sins. The blood was shed to pardon the sin. But the blood from animal sacrifices could not actually remove the sin. A lamb without defect was one of the acceptable animals that was used for this purpose (Lev 4.32). It was necessary for the Israelites to go to the priest time after time to sacrifice animals to pardon their sins.

The real Sacrificial Lamb
In Jesus we find the real sacrificial lamb who takes away the sins of the world. He is the one who is going to redeem mankind from sinfulness. The real sacrifice offered on the Cross. That is why John boldly calls Jesus “the Lamb of God”, who takes away the sins of the world.

When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, John witnessed the Holy spirit descending on Jesus declaring Him to be the Son of God. John knew that Jesus was the Messiah that had been prophesied in the book of Isaiah 53.7, "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." There are over 100 prophecies in the Old Testament predicting the coming Messiah. The Jews were awaiting His arrival. John recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and the person that would fulfill the role as the lamb sent by God to be both the Passover Lamb and provide the blood sacrifice for sin.

During Jesus' 33 years of life on earth, living and experiencing everything that man experiences, He lived without sin. This made Him the pure and spotless lamb that was without defect - a perfect sacrifice. Heb 2.17 says, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people." Jesus Christ, by dying on the cross, nailed all of our sins to the cross (Colo 2.14), cleansed us from a guilty conscience (Heb 10.22), freed us from condemnation and from the grip of sin over our lives (Rom 8.1-2), and assured those of us who believe in Him to have everlasting life with Him in heaven (Jn 3.16).

God sent Jesus into the world to be a one-time sacrifice for all sins. Heb 9.24 says, "For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence."

This is the Sunday that promises us that Christ is the one who comes to save us and is already here saving us always. The Sacraments are the very presence of Christ amidst us and who helps us to offer our daily lives to him so that he can purify us with his blood. The Holy Eucharist is what cleanses us from our sinfulness with his body and blood offered in the Holy Communion.

Takes Away the Sin of the World

Salvation doesn’t cost us anything; it’s free for all who believe the gospel. Discipleship, however, does cost us something. Following Jesus is often not easy. Being a disciple requires making choices—to love and honor God, to treat people for what they are—fellow imagers of God that he loves and wants to bring into his family through the gospel. Think about Jesus’s own life. It wasn’t easy. As St. Peter affirms, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2.21). Jesus lived a life of sacrifice. He put God first, followed by his “neighbor” (everyone else): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 22.36-40) Jesus lived this way not so God would love him or be happy with him. God loved Jesus already, long before he ever came and “did works” (performed) to fulfill the covenant. He loved Jesus “before the foundation of the world” (Jn 17.24). Jesus came to liberate us from our sinfulness and take away that scar of the evil one.

During this week we need one thing on which to focus our attention, that is on Jesus. John the Baptist wants us to recognize Jesus is the only one who can lead us to God’s Kingdom. Mere repentance preached by John the Baptist allows us to accept Jesus; but it is Jesus who gives us that eternal kingdom through his own life and grace.

The suffering servant Jesus is beginning his journey of redemption of mankind. He begins to impact even John the Baptist’s disciples who come to him to see and find out all that is about true kingdom of God.

It's easier to think about our wishes and wants: our favorite food, a winning team, a good grade, a nice car or house, good clothes. Those things are fairly easy to attain, but they don't make any real difference in our life; they quickly prove their shallowness.

On a deeper level, we desire health and life, we long for loving relationships, and for the good of those whom we love. We might regard those as "natural sacramentals," signs or foretastes of the goodness God desires for us. As sacramentals, the objects of our longing can lead us to our depths. But they also bring the danger of becoming goals in themselves, even transforming themselves into idols by becoming the only things we strive for.

Our hearts are restless until they rest in God. That is what we call the fundamental and eternal longing that cannot be satisfied with the ordinary things of life. Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world gives us the real meaning of life and helps us to transcend the trivial things of this world so that we fix our attention and focus on God alone.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7; Acts 10:34–38; Matthew 3:13-17

The servant mentioned in the first reading in general is Israel, God’s chosen people. But there are many individualized characteristics in these servant songs that seem to indicate one individual who represents the collective Israel. Only in the New Testament do the scripture writers identify Jesus as the individual fulfillment of these servant prophecies. Jesus is the Son of God, and called servant of God. He is the one who brings liberation and freedom. Through out the advent season we reflected that the one who comes in the name of the Lord is going to bring prosperity and freedom to the house of Israel.

Good to note how the first reading begins: “Here is . . . / my chosen one with whom I am pleased, / Upon whom I have put my spirit.” The Hebrew word for spirit is ruah (that can also mean wind or breath). The image is that of a force or power of God enabling his servant to act in a manner beyond human capability. It is seen as the power given to the long-awaited Messiah.

It needs to be pointed out that Jesus did not need the baptism of John. John was baptizing as an external sign of interior repentance. Jesus had no need to repent. But, nonetheless, He comes to John. John resists at first but Jesus insists. Why did He receive baptism?

Accepting the baptism of John, Jesus affirms all that John had said and done and affirms his sacred role of preparing the way for Jesus and for a new era of grace. Therefore, the Baptism of Jesus acts as a bridge between the Old Testament prophets (of which John was the last) and the New Testament era of grace and truth, and John again we notice is the first prophet of the New Testament.

Second, it has been said that when Jesus entered the waters of baptism, He was not baptized by the waters, rather, His Baptism was one in which all the created waters of this world were, in a sense, “baptized” by Him. Entering into the waters, Jesus sanctified water and poured forth His grace making all water the future source of salvation.

Baptism of Jesus was an epiphany and was a moment of manifestation. As He emerged from the waters, “Heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from Heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” This manifestation of the sonship and divinity of Jesus took place in a physical, audible and visible form so that all present would know, without question, that Jesus was the Son of the Father. Thus, His baptism is a way in which the Father introduced His Son and His Son’s mission to the world. This mission was to begin immediately and would culminate in the resurrection of the Lord.

Just when the Baptist's activity seems so successful, it is "then" that Jesus first appears on the scene in a surprising turnabout. John has said that the one who is to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Instead, Jesus comes seeking to be baptized by John. Matthew alone seeks to address the problem by having John attempt to avoid Jesus' request. If, after all, baptism has to do with repentance and with bearing fruit that befits righteousness, why should Jesus have to be baptized? But the threefold reference to baptism in this passage and Jesus' response to John both serve to emphasize the importance of this event coming at the beginning of this narrative of the good news about Jesus.

Jesus says that this baptism must take place to "fulfill all righteousness," and with his words the reader begins to realize that righteousness has to do with much more than simply human ethical response, but rather has to do with the whole plan of God in this one who comes as savior, and thus is a sign of Jesus' obedient submission to God's marvelous grace. The unique reference to the opening of the heavens "to him" and the clear public announcement of God's good pleasure name Jesus as God's beloved Son (Mark says, "You are…"; Matthew writes, "This is…") and mark this event as revelatory of God's presence and approval.

What do we learn from this feast of the Baptism of the Lord? First truth is that we too are baptised with the same Spirit of the Lord.

We are baptized into his very life

We are grafted to Christ Our Lord. Remember the parable of the vine and the branches. We become the branches of Christ who is the vine. Unless we are one with Christ the Lord, we are not going to bear fruit that will last.

We become Children of God

In John 1.12 we find an excellent expression. All who receive Christ through faith become children of God. This is described using the Greek term exousia, often translated as a “right” or an entitlement. There are spiritual hounors given to all believers, simply based on being part of that family. However, this word also implies the power to do something. Becoming a child of God doesn’t simply result in privileges, but spiritual power. A name, legal documents, a conversation, is a symbol of that person. The “name” of Jesus is not a magical formula. “Faith in the name of Jesus” means trust in His person, His sacrifices, and his salvation. This is not for everyone, however. This verse specifies that this power or right is only extended to those who receive him especially through baptism.

We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit

In his letter to the Corinthians St. Paul boldly confesses that we are the Temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 6.19).

All of us become brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus

We are all related to one another through the sacrament of Baptism. This relationship is far beyond how we are related to one another within our families. This is a spiritual relationship that helps us understand the great mystery of God who has adopted us as his children and hence we are related to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord.

Moreover, we connect ourselves with the whole lot of holy people and Saints as our big family through the baptismal grace of Christ. Because of our baptism we are saved; yet like Jesus, we must live out that salvation now in this world like all those saints and holy people lived their grace sharing and helping people around them. This same Holy Spirit was given to us at our baptism; that Spirit empowers us to follow in the way of Jesus with great confidence as real children of God; that same Spirit urges us to fulfill our mission by submitting to the will of God as it comes to us naturally in our ordinary Christian lives and become holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


EPIPHANY

Isaiah 60.1-6; Ps 72.1-7; 10-14; Eph 3.1-12; Mat 2.1-12

Epiphany is a wonderful feast that gives us an indication how God chooses his representative from all walks of life. These three kings traveling from far East come to Jerusalem to worship the newborn King. Their travel was harsh with all kinds of hurdles and the most difficult and concerning hurdle was King Herod. They over came all these hurdles to come and worship and present their gifts to the King. The star guided them to the place where Jesus was.

Why did God reveal Jesus to the Magi? We know the story of the Magi coming to worship Jesus very well. But have you ever stopped to wonder why God revealed Jesus to the Magi and not the “Evil and the Great” King Herod? God has his ways of revealing His greatness through insignificant ways to ordinary people.

Who were the Magi? Very little is known about the Magi. Matthew doesn’t even record how many of them there were. All the Bible tells us is that they came from the East to Jerusalem. The number is unknown.

It is accepted that the Magi were a priestly caste from Persia once a mighty country where modern Iran and Iraq are now located. They were probably astrologers. In the second century, church father named Tertullian suggested that these men were kings because the Old Testament had predicted that kings would come to worship the Messiah. Tertullian also concluded that there were three kings based on the number of gifts mentioned, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

It is in the sixth century, someone decided that their names were Melchior, Baltazar and Gaspar. And the term Magi is the base from which our modern words “magician” and “magistrate” are derived. The Magi, in the eyes of the Jewish people to whom St. Matthew wrote his Gospel, had two explanations against them.

The first explanation against the Magi was that they were Gentiles – Persians to be precise. After all weren’t the Jews alone God’s chosen people. But the second and more important explanation against them was that they were astrologers. And astrology was expressly forbidden – on pain of death – in the OT. (Dt 18.9-14) So why did God reveal himself to astrologers?

I can think of three reasons why God revealed Himself to the Magi because Christ came not only for the chosen ones, but to all nations to preach the Gospel for all nations

First of all, God revealed Jesus to the Magi to show us that the Gospel - that Jesus’ birth heralded - is for all nations. This was well predicted by Isaiah the prophet long ago.

It is not just to the select few righteous people in the world. We don’t have to wait until we are living a “morally good life” before God seeks us out. If moral perfection was God’s criteria, I doubt any of us would be sitting in church today.

God accepts us “sinners and saints alike” – and these Magi were perhaps not living a good life? Or had their own ambitions? Were they just rulers? Were they free from violence?

The Magi sought Jesus. The second reason - that I think God revealed Jesus to the Magi - was that the Magi were SEEKING God despite being not chosen people. The Magi sought Christ out to worship him. God honours a spirit within a person that SEEKS God. We have examples in the Gospels when Jesus met with the Siro Phoenician woman and Samaritans who confessed their full faith in him.

We won’t get everything right – but if we have a right heart God will honour us
And God reached out to the Magi by a Star.

But that wasn’t a chance Star – God had ordained and it had been prophesied over a millennium earlier by Balaam the prophet when he said – referring to Jesus: "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near. A Star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel (Num 24.17)

The third reason is the very attitude of the Magi because they were docile, and they had several right moves in the direction of God. They obeyed the ordinary revelation of God manifested through a star. The first of these right attitudes was that they were obedient to the guidance of God. They weren’t too big to follow the star. As St. Matthew records them saying: They weren’t star gazers – they put their beliefs into action. And even though they didn’t know the destination they were prepared to step out in faith. Following the leading of the Lord can be quite risky and it can be time consuming. Their faith was so strong that they could overcome all kinds of hurdles and dangers on their way.

The Magi probably had to go from Persia to Jerusalem – a journey of a good 1000 miles – on foot and travelling with camels. Even though the Scripture narrative shows us that their arrival was quick, but then given the distance they had to travel and must have taken many weeks to arrive at Bethlehem.

Scriptural References
By this moral story Matthew shows how Christ is the fulfillment of these prophecies. Thus, in the Book of Numbers, Balaam prophesies: “A star shall advance from Jacob” (Num 24.17). Also, Isaiah prophesies: “Caravans of camels shall fill you . . . / All from Sheba shall come / bearing gold and frankincense” (Isaiah 60.6). Again, Psalm 72 (vv. 10–11) foresees: “The kings of Arabia . . . shall bring tribute. All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.” Finally, Micah praises Bethlehem: “You, Bethlehem . . . From you shall come forth for me; one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5.1). In sum, Matthew uses this popular legend to show the fulfillment of all these prophecies. Also, this passage shows the mind of Matthew as proclaiming Christ the Savior of the Gentiles. Matthew’s Gospel was completed after 80 ad. At that time the infant church was growing fast in the Gentile world—in Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Asia Minor, and Greece. In this context the Magi were representatives of these people, who had come to believe and worship Christ.

Today this great narrative of Matthew must provoke us to take the Gospel to all nations through our lives lived in witness to Christ. The witnessing could happen in our neighbourhood families, in the place of work, in our society, during a celebration etc. There are multiple opportunities for us to evangelize and proclaim the life of Christ’s kingdom here on earth.

Life is a journey of faith. Faith is what makes us children of God. All are invited to this great experience of having an encounter with Christ our Lord, along with Mary and Joseph. Let us bring all our talents, time, resources, pains and sorrows to offer them to Christ. He will make us return to our daily life through another better way as did the Magi who got back to their country through a different route.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


MARY MOTHER OF GOD – SOLEMNITY
Numbers 6:22–27; Galatians 4:4–7; Luke 2:16–21

God gave to Mary a very special privilege be Theotokos- Mother of God Himself. Mary becomes the Tabernacle of God here on earth as she bears in her womb the Son of God. The Holy Trinity, the undivided unity becomes incarnate in the person of Jesus in the womb of Mary. That is why she is the Mother of God.

The Gospel today presents Mary as the mother of Jesus: The shepherds “found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.” Why did the shepherds find Jesus and not others? They were meek and humble of heart, we can hear the words of Christ himself “learn from me for am meek and humble of heart”. Shepherds worked hard to earn their living. Their task was to protect the sheep, lead them to pasture, accompany them in their perilous journey. Jesus would do the same to his own people, he would accompany them, lead them, pasture them, and protect them from predators.

And then adds: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” On this day as we begin the first day of the New Year, it should be a moment to reflect in our heart. Mary kept all these things in her heart. Its an invitation to all of us to keep all the things in our heart; that is being grateful to God for the past year and look forwards with courage and strength to the new year of challenges and difficulties.

This passage is an incisive choice for this feast of the Mother of God, for it includes the two outstanding reasons why Mary is our mother and our model. First, Mary is the mother of Jesus, by whom we are all made God’s children. As mother of Jesus, she is preeminent of all God’s creatures. As “Mother of God” she is the mother of God’s children. And secondly, Mary is the exemplar of faith. As she reflected on the all that happened, she slowly discovered the meaning of God’s way of salvation; as she continued to fulfill God’s will, she became “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.”

As we are reflecting on the Gospel of Luke we find that throughout the Acts of the Apostles, Luke shows the early church behaving as Mary did, giving itself completely to Christ’s mission and making time for discernment and reflection as it carried Christ into the world. Luke presents Mary as a symbol of the church so skillfully that we can almost miss his emphasis. Her freedom to serve Christ’s mission, bring him into the world, and ponder the significance of his life became the pattern for both collective and individual discipleship. This is very well reflected in prayer and service of the faithful in the early church.

When we give ourselves over to Christ’s mission in big ways and small, we offer Christ to the world in new ways. Today evangelization has taken a renewed enthusiasm among many missionaries. It is to preach Christ through prayer and good works as Mary did in the early church.

World Day of Peace
Today is the world day of peace (and the feast of Mary, the Mother of God). And this story exemplifies well a Christian approach to peace and solving social problems. We have to admit that Jesus did not produce any program for the renewal and transformation of social structures; he did not outline any political or cultural ethics; he has no practical answers for modern social ills; he has no detailed solutions for the grievances of one country against another or for territorial disputes. He does not even give an entirely clear statement on the morality of war or revolution. Therefore, Christians—even Catholic leaders—can have very diverse opinions about civil disturbances and revolutions within countries, about border disputes between countries, about practical solutions in Israel, Ireland, Afghanistan, North Korea, and India and in many violently unjust situations in African or South American countries.
How can we create peace around us? It is through self sacrifice. If Mary and Joseph were peace loving couple, then those who love peace become like Mary and Joseph.

In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10.5-6). Jesus’ mission was to preach and teach the peace of God. When he was with the people, he always promoted peace among all types of people. He was friendly with the Samaritans, the Romans, the pagans etc. He never rejected anyone. This is a great example of Jesus Himself to all of us.

Christ, the Prince of Peace, does have an impact on peace in the world. One way is along the lines of the story we began with. For the whole thrust of Christ in the New Testament is toward the reformation of the individual. This reformation is accomplished not by law and order but by the free decision of the individual person. That is, Jesus does not set up social laws to bridle cruelty and injustice, for that achievement would still leave us with a cruel world. Rather Christ positively teaches justice, forgiveness and love, so that people and institutions might really be changed. The implication is that radical social action alone is not enough to cure our social ills; we also need compassionate and just human beings. What a change there would be in so many social and political crises if the values of Christ were taken seriously: his identification with the weak, poor, underprivileged, and oppressed; his teaching on forgiveness of enemies; removal of prejudice and superiority in political situations. Such is Jesus’ way of reforming the social order—not by specific social movements or political systems but by the reform of the individual members and promoting peace wherever there is a possibility. Through his Beatitudes Jesus invited a special world order that will promote peace if we begin to realize how rich are these teachings and practice them. In his parable of the last judgement Jesus forcefully affirms that those who love the weak and oppressed will share his kingdom of peace (Mat. 25).

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


HOLY FAMILY – FEAST


Holiness is the integration that places God unambiguously at the centre of one’s life and concern. Holy Family of Nazareth is a wonderful example for our daily life that placed God as their centre. Why this family is Holy? Because of holiness of all the three: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. God is Holy and He invites everyone to be holy as he is. The Holy Family lived a holy life bowing to God’s will in every detail of their life. Jesus’ whole concern was to do the will of the Father, Mary accepted God’s will as fiat. Joseph surrendered to God’s will because he was asked to take Mary as his wife and to take care of Jesus in the face of dangers the family faced right from the beginning of their family life.

Mary and Joseph are faithful disciples of Christ. He lived with them and they were transformed in life.

Ordinary life of Mary and Joseph transformed every bit of their intentions and experiences.

Celebrating the Sunday following Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family, the Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for inspiration, example and encouragement. They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that He might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God. Jesus brought holiness to the family of Joseph and Mary as Jesus brings us holiness by embracing us in His family. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the following advice to the parents: "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well-suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the 'material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.'" The CCC adds: “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children.”(CCC #2223).

Joseph’s Docility
We have the gospel from Matthew. After the Magi had departed the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and instructed him to take the child and flee to Egypt.

It was such a difficult task for Joseph with all kinds of tensions surrounding he had leave for Egypt.

Joseph, acting with complete docility, rose up, took the Child and his Mother by night, and fled into Egypt (Mt 2:14). Thus, began the first of the persecutions that Christ Jesus would undergo on earth all throughout history, whether against Himself or against members of his Mystical Body.

It was the flight to Egypt that saved the little babe of Bethlehem. It was a very harsh journey and dangerous too. There were two main roads to Egypt. The easier road was also the more traveled one; it passed through Gaza and then ran south along the Mediterranean coast. The other road, less used and therefore the more prudent one, passed through Hebron and Bersabee before crossing the Idumean desert and entering the Sinai Peninsula. In either case, it would be a long trip of several hundred miles lasting from ten to fourteen days. This would be the safest route because of its rugged nature.

Before beginning this arduous journey, everything had to be done in haste. In Hebron or Bersabee (the latter about forty miles from Bethlehem), they could procure provisions before setting out across the desert. In that initial stage of the trip, they may very well have joined up with a small caravan, for it would have been almost impossible to travel that road alone. The oppressive heat, lack of water, and danger of bandits made it advisable not to cross the desert on their own. The historian Plutarch writes that, in 155 B.C., Roman soldiers making the same trip to fight in Egypt were more fearful of the hardships to be faced in the desert than of the battles to be fought ahead.

What we find here in this explanation the daring spirit of Mary and Joseph in taking this arduous journey to Egypt. It required strength, determination, courage, endurance and patience. Imagine a little baby had to travel a long distance with such a cold weather and uncertainly on the way because of robbers, violent people, dusty roads and at times no roads etc.

Let us compare all these situations to our own life. Today we have all kinds of comforts and conveniences in our surroundings. How can we celebrating the feast of Holy Family live a life of dedication discipline and detachment? How can we help our family members to understand that life is difficult, yet it is worth living?

Life is a journey and a challenge. Holy Family’s journey opens us a very powerful theme of difficulties we face along our spiritual journey. It is a journey every member of a family must undertake. Its going to be harsh, difficult, with all kinds of uncertainties and insecurities on the way. The virtues of Joseph and Mary will help us traverse this terrain of our family life’s journey.

Practical Conclusion
Today family life has become very difficult to live. In this modern world there are multiple concerns for the parents to take care of their children.

Work: Work has become the priority in every family as the modern society has pushed the members to earn more because they must spend more on their children, on food, clothing, home etc. Daily work also has made family members distance themselves as they must be away from home for their daily source of income.

Workload has created tensions between the children and parents as they must prepare for next days work. Hence, children feel neglected and abandoned. Parents scarcely get time to spend with their children and with one another. This becomes a vicious circle of activities and offers not enough time to relax and enjoy life.

Food: Family lives together must have at least one meal in common. The modern lifestyle does not allow most of the family members present for food in their families. Work and friends have taken all the time they have. If a family must be stronger it should have time to have food together. When preparing food and consuming food there is such a lot of reciprocal interaction that can bond the members together.

Prayer: Family that prays together lives and loves together. Prayer as we define it as recitation of psalms, Rosary, Angelus etc. All these prayers and many other types of vocal prayers including reading of the Holy Scripture can help members to understand life and all that comes with it.

Recreation: Today the word ‘recreation’ has become quite individualistic enjoyment. With our smart electronic gadgets recreation in common has lost its lustre and importance. We need to revive its sense especially in our families.

Let us ask the Holy Family to bless us with the grace and strength to live our lives united with our family members in happiness and pain; poverty and joy; sickness and health.

Let us end on a positive note. We can all find plenty of inspiration today for Christian families in the first part of this reading to the Colossians. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones . . . heartfelt compassion, kindness . . . gentleness, and patience.” These are critical virtues in any family; the motivation for doing so is that by baptism we have been clothed in Christ (cf. Galatians 3.27), and so should put on these virtues that correspond to our new life in Christ. And because we are all very human, we need forbearance and forgiveness: “Bearing with one another and forgiving one another . . . as the Lord has forgiven you.” I suspect husbands and wives know even more than I how necessary forgiveness is among spouses. Family life is such a close existence that it is bound to include offenses and human failures; it demands this Christian virtue again and again. “And over all these, put-on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” And for our children, parents know that love is not taught by words; it is caught by them—in the home, more than anywhere else. God bless our families. They are the fount of our personality and of all our Christian living.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


CHRISTMAS – YEAR A


Christ is born. A long-awaited prophesy is fulfilled. Saviour has come, Emmanuel – God with us.

Each year when we celebrate this awesome Day and season of Christmas we are thrilled, and we expect something new will soon happen to us or something new is awaiting us. It has a very powerful message to all of us. The newborn King of the universe is among us brings always something new. A new initiative, new idea, new way to lead a better life, new person to meet who can enrich our life. But above all we need to know Jesus is the one who brings all things new to us. It’s a deeply spiritual season to bring us back from our boredoms and darkness. The king of the Light is with us and its time to rejoice. He is the one who is opening our eyes to see the real light, the one who will make us walk and will cure our diseases and infirmities.

In the process of the Birth of Christ our Lord, we find the spirituality of “a knock at the door”. Who is knocking at our door? Joseph seeking a place in the inn to make Mary comfortable as she is about to give birth to Jesus.

But there was a reply, no room in the inn. Very sad to know that there is no room in the inn for Jesus. He had to be born in a place, but there is nowhere to go.

Cold Night of indifference
Its indeed a cold night. We can just imagine if a newborn baby does not get enough warmth. The baby could become sick and weak. In the case of Baby Jesus, the animals must shelter this Royal little one. With their company to provide much needed warmth Mary and Joseph find great relief. Surely God stoops low to come from lightsome heaven to our war-torn, dark, cold, indifferent world. As He stoops, He stoops to the lowest place, being born not in a palace or even in a comfortable home. He stoops on to a manger. God will defeat Satan’s pride with humility. All who will find Him this fateful night must also stoop. True, God is non-competitive as Bishop Barron says often in his teachings.

Humility
Even to this day, when one visits Bethlehem and wants to see the place of Jesus’ birth, one must first enter the church through what is called the “Door of Humility.” For security reasons, this door was built to be only about four feet high. One must stoop greatly to enter through it. Yes, we must stoop to find our God. The site of the birth is at the other end of the basilica, under the altar area. Here again, more stooping is required; down steep stairs, through another low and narrow door, and into the cave. To touch the spot, one must kneel and reach forward into a narrower part of the cave. Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, says the inscription. The only way to get there is to stoop.

Finding God
One of the best lessons we can learn from this very situation of Jesus born on a manger is to understand how we can find God in ordinary events of life. The whole of the Scripture tells us how God found ordinary people to communicate His message. There is no need for highly qualified atmosphere for God to communicate what He wants us to know. He manifested himself to shepherds, fishermen, children, poor and the sinners, tax collectors, Zacchaeus, the blind, the deaf, the dumb etc.

The Knock
Christmas is a time to find out who needs some comfort. It is our duty to seek and find out those who are in need of our help.

Jesus knocks at the door of our souls. He may knock at dawn, during the day or at midnight. Scripture says, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me (Rev 3.20). An old song says, “Somebody’s knocking at your door! Oh Sinner, why don’t you answer?”

At Christmas one unique truth we learn is that the Lord comes always and meets us on various occasions. It is up to us to let him in or tell him there is no room in our inn.

There is a beautiful Christmas custom in Ireland. The centre piece of Christmas holiday in Ireland is the dinner. After the often-lavish meal the kitchen table was again set and on it was placed some bread and milk and the table adorned with the welcoming candle. If Mary and Joseph, or any wandering traveller happened to pass by they could avail of the hospitality.

If you will receive the gift of Him tonight and make greater room for Him in your heart, you will have victory and transformation in Christ Jesus. There will come to you the increasing gift of transformation into the very likeness of God. Tonight, is a night of gifts and Jesus stoops low to give us a priceless gift: the power to become children of God. Is there room in the “inn” of your heart? If there is one you have become the child of God already.

Reaching out to Others
Let us celebrate this Christmas with a great desire to reach out to Christ who is homeless, poor, naked, stranger, wanderer. When we can help someone in need our Christmas will be brighter, and its joy will last longer.

What is Christmas many may ask especially when the world has commercialized this festive season. For those who do not recognize Christ as their Saviour, Christmas Solemnity will probably does not bring any other meaning than sharing gifts and receiving gifts, see some colourful lights and pass on to the next year.

There is much to learn from Christmas. It’s a gift, it shows us humility, manifests poverty, we learn from the shepherds, the ordinary people of village. That’s exactly is the strategy of God who cares for the weak, the widow, the stranger, the abandoned and the lost.

Why did the Lord Jesus need to come from Heaven to earth and to be born in Bethlehem’s manger? There was a three-fold purpose, and this is mentioned in Galatians 4.5, 6 and 7.

He came in order that we might be REDEEMED (verse 5). To redeem, in this case, means to deliver from the bondage and the curse of the Law. The curse of the Law is the penalty which comes because we have broken the Law, and we all have broken the Law, and therefore we are under the curse and are in danger of punishment. But Christ came to redeem us from the curse of the Law, and He did this by offering His life and shedding His blood on Calvary’s cross (1 Peter 1.18-19). Thank God, every believer can sing: “Free from the Law, O happy condition, Jesus had bled, and there is remission …”

He came that we might receive the FULL RIGHTS of sons (verse 5). God’s purpose in the incarnation is that we might become sons of God, and this sonship is based upon redemption - “to redeem?…that we might receive…”. The Son of God became the Son of man that we, sons of men, might become sons of God. Who, then, are the sons of God? They are those who have the Spirit of adoption in their hearts - compare Galatians 4.6 with 1 John 3.1.

He came that we might become HEIRS of God through Christ (verse 7). Compare Romans 8.16-17, where we are told that we are co-heirs with Christ. Because He shared our humanity, with all the consequent sufferings which this involved, we, by His grace and through faith in Him, are to share His glory. In the parable of Luke 15, the father said to his elder son, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15.31).

Practical Conclusion
Christmas is a time of rejoicing, sharing, and a time to become aware of all the spiritual riches we have through Jesus our Saviour. It’s a time too to know what we have; and what we can do, with what we have, for the glory and praise of God.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT
Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24

The angel appearing to Joseph in his dream utters similar words of Isaiah Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel. Matthew wants to make it very clear to his community that God was acting in a very precise way to make people understand that he is the one who is directing the history of mankind. He will send His Son to liberate them from oppression and give them freedom from slavery.

It was foretold by the prophets and proclaimed throughout the whole of Sacred Scriptures that He would be the One who would fulfil and bring them to completion the promises made (II Sam 7). Our God will be Incarnated and born due to the generous willingness of the ‘Virgin’ who, from the very beginning of time, was chosen to be the Mother of the Savior.

What a prediction that has saved the world through the birth of Jesus the Son of God through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

During the reign of the evil King Ahaz, war broke out between Judah and Israel. Pekah, the king of Israel, entered into an alliance with the King of Syria (Rezin). The latter two went to Jerusalem to besiege it.
When Judah’s King Ahaz learned of the coalition against him, his heart sank along with his people. He was an evil king and could not reasonably expect God’s intervention for him or in fact doubted God could save him. God had not given up on Judah. God sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz to give him a promise of the perpetuity of Judah.

The message from Isaiah was one of comfort. Even though the kings of Israel and Syria formed a confederacy against him, God will intervene. Isaiah told Ahaz to ask for a sign to authenticate the promise from God. He refused. So, Isaiah gave a sign from God, “a young woman will conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel”.

God did not want to abandon Judah. The word “Immanuel” means God with us. The virgin’s son was God manifest in the flesh. This sign was not fulfilled during the days of Ahaz. This is a promise that God will be true to the descendants of David. Judah will have a future. That future will be established through “Immanuel.” This was a sign for the perpetuity of the nation.

The New Testament clearly saw this passage fulfilled in Christ. At the end of the genealogy of Jesus Matthew makes this statement, “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Mt 1.23).

Both the Old and New Testaments promise the coming of Jesus Christ. God keeps his word. God indeed came in flesh and was born of a virgin. He was supernaturally conceived without a human father, “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her (did not have sex with her) till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus” (Mt 1.24-25).

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah was like this” (v. 18a). Matthew began this Gospel by asserting that Jesus is “Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1.1). Now he reasserts that Jesus is the Messiah. In his description of Jesus’ birth, he gives none of the details about the manger or the shepherds that we find in Luke. His account of Jesus’ birth focuses primarily on Joseph, through whom Jesus is the son of David (1.1-16). Message for us is that the promise is fulfilled and we believe and welcome Jesus in our life. The birth of Jesus was in a village, on a manger; since there was no inn available, he was born among animals.

“For after his mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, before they came together” (v. 18b). Jewish marriage starts with an engagement arranged by parents, often while the boy and girl are still children. Prior to marriage, couples begin a yearlong betrothal like marriage except for sexual rights. Betrothal is binding and can be terminated only by death or divorce. A person whose betrothed dies is considered a widow or widower. Here we find the courage of Mary, who accepted the will of God. Joseph had to endure secretly great anxiety.

“She was found pregnant by the Holy Spirit” (v. 18c). There are numerous stories in Greek and Roman mythology of such conceptions, but “it is most important that we do not lapse into paganism by…presenting Jesus as a demigod, half human by virtue of birth from a human mother, half god since begotten by a god. Christian doctrine affirms Jesus’ full humanity and full divinity. A great challenge for both Mary and Joseph. Joseph’s faith had to be like that of Abraham who trusted in God and put all his faith in him.

“Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, intended to put her away secretly” (v. 19).“But when he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” (v. 20a). This is the first of three occasions in which an angel appears to Joseph in a dream. In each instance, the angel calls Joseph to action and Joseph obeys. Joseph’s silence. Matthew does not record one word that Joseph says. In this first appearance, the angel commands Joseph to take Mary as his wife. In 2.13, the angel will tell Joseph to take the mother and child to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. In 2.19, the angel will, at the death of Herod, tell Joseph to return to Israel. In a fourth obedience, after being warned in a dream (no angel this time), Joseph will go to Nazareth (2.23). There is total obedience on the part of Joseph. An obedience that demanded a lot of sacrifice on his part.

“Don’t be afraid” (v. 20b). The angel will repeat these exact words to the women at the tomb following Jesus’ resurrection (Mt. 28.5). Jesus will use the same words on several occasions (Mt. 10.31; 14.27; 17.7; 28.10). He is not to hesitate but is to wed Mary. Both of them are magnanimous accepting what God had planned for them.

“She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name Jesus, for it is he who will save his people from their sins” (v. 21a). Mary’s role is to bear a son, and Joseph’s role is to name him. By naming him, Joseph will make Jesus his son and bring him into the house of David. Joseph in the Old Testament was the son of Jacob who rose to prominence in the kingdom of Pharaoh the king of Egypt. Joseph even though betrayed by his brothers becomes their rescuer.

The name, Jesus, “is the Greek form of the Hebrew Yehosua, which means ‘YHWH is salvation’. It is related to the name Joshua––Moses’ successor.

“For it is he who will save his people from their sins” (v. 21b). The first Joshua saved the people from their enemies; the second Joshua (Jesus) will save the people from their sins. Jesus was with the tax collectors and sinners most of the time and he said that he came to call back the sinners. It is therefore reassuring to see, at the outset, that Jesus has come to save us from our sins.

Practical Conclusion

How can we imitate the virtues of Joseph? : no complaint, no self importance, just obedience, fearlessness and silence.

One of the best things on this Sunday to learn to take courage in our lives no matter what comes and what goes away. Like Joseph we need to listen to God all the time. Joseph could have had a comfortable life if he wanted to do what he desired. But he obeyed God. To be sensitive to his message and promptings. One thing I repeat we learn from Joseph is silence. He accepts God’s word transmitted to him through the angel. He does not utter a word, rather obeys and takes this challenge gratefully. Advent is a time of silence of Mary and Joseph, which can help us reap rich spiritual benefits. Joseph’s obedience is remarkable in contrast with the disobedience of King Ahaz. Joseph’s reliance on God and King Ahaz’s reliance on worldly Assyrian Kingdom that destroyed him.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT - A
Isaiah 35:1-10 ; Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:46b-55 ; James 5:7-10 ; Matthew 11:2-11

This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of rejoicing. “Rejoice with the joy of singing” says Isaiah. A true joy that is created when the Lord comes with recompense. He is the one who liberates and frees. What more? The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. All these things that happen to people and to the earth will bring joy and gladness unending.

Our Rejoicing
When we rejoice at something that we have or achieved, it lasts just for a while. There is another type of rejoicing that comes from the Lord, it is called the inner joy, spring of living water gushing from our heart because we are favoured by the Lord, that lasts forever. God is here. God will come. Isaiah offers assurance for present and for future. In the future, Isaiah asserts that God will act for the people to reverse oppression and deliver them. The prophet does not describe specific conditions of oppression but speaks in general terms in a direct address to the audience: God "will come and save you" (35:4b). When the Lord does something in our life it remains as a permanent mark throughout our life. It brings us joy unending.

God's arrival brings something more. When God comes, "the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf will be opened. Then a lame man will leap like the stag; a silent man's tongue will shout. Because waters will break open in the wilderness, and streams in the desert" (35:5-6). God's arrival transforms every inability into ability and every lack into miraculous abundance. God's coming brings the capacity to see and hear to those whose senses are starving for light and sound.

Can we see God in our lives? Is it possible that we are still blinded by the world and its temptations? When God brings us light and sound, it is our duty to offer our senses and our souls. Isaiah 35 invites us to reflect on this Advent season not only as God's coming in Christ, but also as our coming home. God comes. God is here. We leap and shout and sing. And together we walk home.

St. James invites us to be patient, like the farmer patiently waiting for the crop. It’s virtually a long wait until the crop can be filled in the barn. When we look around us today, literally people lose patience. They cannot wait a second or a minute just to help someone else in need. Our attention to mass media has dulled our minds towards our neighbours. That is precisely what St. James mentions in this reading that we should stop grumbling against our neighbours and stop judging them. The real judge is God himself who is practically at the door. We need to strengthen our hearts and wait in patience for the Lord’s coming.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we find a question from John the Baptist. He was unable to see what Jesus was doing as he was in the prison. So, he sent his disciples to find out what’s happening.

Jesus comes on the scene as one who proclaims the kingdom of God, calls upon people to trust in God, heals the sick, and befriends tax collectors and persons labeled “sinners.” It is little wonder that John, now sitting in prison with time to think, questions whether Jesus is the one to come or not. Jesus fits neither John`s expectations nor those of Jewish messianism in general. John’s question in 11:3 is therefore totally understandable: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

Jesus speaks of his mission in one of the clearest statements in the gospels about it: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them” (11:5).

Gaudete Sunday must evoke in us a great love and devotion to Jesus who makes all things new. Never in the history of mankind such revolutionary acts were seen or performed. Jesus is the Lord and God making history quite interesting and new. He is God himself, fully human liberating people from their bondage.

It’s now our turn to imitate Christ in everything we do. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta lived the example of Christ during her life time showing light to those who were in darkness, helping the lame to walk, taking care of the lepers and making the deaf understand what others wanted to communicate and many who felt that they were dead, were raised to life through her prayers and hard work as a missionary.

This kind of mission in imitation of Christ our Lord will bring joy to the one who shares his/her life with those who are less fortunate and helpless.

The alternative hymn we have for our liturgy today is the Magnificat of Mary. She was filled with gratitude to God and sang this hymn in praise to Him. My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. When we help some one who is in need, we participate in the mission of God who is always keen on liberating his people from oppression. Mary went to help Elizabeth her cousin who was 6 months pregnant. It was a great joy for Mary to be of help to Elizabeth.

Let us rejoice then on this Sunday preparing for the coming of the Lord. May His love and mercy allow us to be stronger than ever in making others rejoice in what life offers them. At the same time, we keep our hearts open to God’s infinite mercy that it may flow within us.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT - A
Isaiah 11.1-10; Romans 15.4-9; Mathew 3.1-12

Lot of people today are interested in predicting what will happen in a few years from now. Some predict how the present poorly maintained ecological system would impact our environment and the entire planet. Others predict what’s going to happen if there is a nuclear war among the nations. Many are interested to know what will happen in another 10 years from now. Most of these predictions may not be realized.
Today’s first reading entirely reflects on how Isaiah predicted that Jesus is the new stock of Jesse will bring justice, understand the weak and help the poor. He will be able to defeat the wicked and help the needy and the lost.

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; that is what we have seen in the Gospels, a spirit of counsel and of strength. He stood firmly against all injustice and corruption. His delight was to do the will of the Father, establishing His Kingdom here on earth.

In the Gospels we find Jesus judging the poor with justice, providing them everything they needed. He struck the wicked with the rod of his mouth and outwitted the Pharisees and Scribes.

Then Isaiah predicts that all animals will live in peace and harmony, that is going back to the very life of the garden of Eden. Wolf and the lamb, leopard with the kid, calf with the young lion and little child will guide them. There will be no harm done on the mountain of the Lord. All will be filled with the knowledge of God. Well, we have a fuller knowledge of all these prophesies fulfilled in the person of Christ the Lord because his kingdom was an everlasting kingdom for all, including the gentiles. Jesus invited all of people to listen to him and welcomed them with warmth and generosity.
Prophet Isaiah was optimistic of God’s deliverance and his rule. He encouraged people who were dismayed but hopeful of the realization of God’s kingdom.

In his letter to the Romans Paul affirms that whatever was written was for our instruction. He insists that the Sacred Scriptures help us to endure patiently all our trials and temptations. This in view of accepting Jesus Christ that we must live in harmony with one another. When we can accept Jesus our Saviour, we also show that Gentiles are called to fellowship with us. The invitation extends to all people to come to Jesus and be saved.

St. Paul reminds us that we have a history. It is the history of our salvation recorded in the Old and New Testaments – all of which was written for our instruction. It is there to encourage us and help us to endure the hardships we face. It also gives us a well-founded hope in what Jesus has promised!

Paul teaches us that we are a community of disciples who live lives of faith. We truly need the support of one another. And we must look beneath the appearances of others and discover the truth that lives within them.

John the Baptist appearing in the desert of Judah is a sign that his mission was to extend not only to the people of Jerusalem, but to the entire region. Most of the teachers and preachers appeared in Jerusalem, but John appeared in the desert. Jesus later appeared not only in Jerusalem but all over the entire Israel.

John’s apparel of camel’s hair and leather portrayed him as a prophetic figure like Elijah (2 Kgs 1.8) whom it was believed would return to herald the messiah (Mal 4.5). The diet of locusts and wild honey recalled the wilderness period when the newly escaped refugees from Egypt were being formed as a people by God in the Sinai. But locusts were also a symbol of divine judgment in scripture (Ex 10.12-20, Deut 28.42), as honey was a sign of promise and blessings (Ex 3.17). Perhaps John’s diet signaled that the coming reign and its emissary, Jesus, would bring both judgment and promise upon the earth, a fact that is borne out in the rest of the gospel, that he said he came to bring fire on earth.

John the Baptist urges us all to repent and to change – especially from the dishonesty within ourselves. Few of us are people of complete integrity. Most of us are hiding something – and most of us want to appear better or more than who we really are. However, we must become disciples who aspire to honesty and integrity. We cannot be like the Pharisees and the Sadducees of today’s Gospel. They came with everyone else to the Jordan – but their coming was only for the sake of appearances and to judge and to find fault with John. They were far from the conversion and repentance that John was urging. And, as such, they would not escape the wrath of God. For they would not be able to accept the truths, the gifts, and the salvation that Jesus came to bring!

John the Baptist affirms so strongly the power of God. He was convinced that God could raise children for Abraham from those very stones in the desert. He would not care the faithless pharisees and scribes who lived a life of luxury. What counts is not our appearance but the fruitful outcome of our life. Repentance requires that we be genuine in our approach to life and situations. If a tree refused to yield fruits, it will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

The readings of todays liturgy invite us:
To see in Jesus the saviour of mankind and the one who will not judge by our appearances. He will do justice to the poor and the weak. Jesus will gather the nations and that is what John says, ‘gathering wheat into the barn.’

However, John clearly affirms that Jesus who will baptise people with fire will be their real saviour. Humility of John is evident when he says that he is unworthy to carry Jesus’ sandals. John was a very powerful prophet and preacher. That is why people from Jerusalem, Judah and Jordan came to listen to him.

Let us celebrate this second Sunday in Advent with a resolution that will transform us. Looking at John the Baptist we must be inspired to repent and come back to Christ our Saviour. It is purely our decision, and no one can force it upon us.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD


FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT – YEAR A
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44

We are in this holy season of Advent. It’s a time for waiting for the Lord to come into our lives. We all wait for so many things to happen in our life. A little baby waits for her mother to come and feed her. Parents always wait for their children to return from school; a friend waits for another friend at home or at a location that they had decided to meet. Waiting for relatives to come; waiting for a bus, waiting in the airport for the flight, waiting patiently for our turn to meet a doctor etc.

But this waiting during Advent is a very special one for the chosen ones that their Lord will come to rule them. This is what Isaiah waited concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It was after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem a patient waiting for the fulfilment of God’s promises to re establish the reign of God in Judah and Jerusalem was due.

The prophet elaborates stating that the people will climb the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. It will be the desire of the people then to be instructed by the Lord. They would not heed any other earthly king’s instruction.

The Psalm we sing during the Holy Eucharist will resonate the great happiness of people who long to go to the house of the Lord. The Psalmist then knew already that the city of Jerusalem was a well-built city by King David and he gathered all the nations together, all the tribes of Israel. But Isaiah’s prediction came after its destruction.

St. Paul in his letter to Romans very clearly mentions that its time to wake up from sleep. When we are in sound sleep, we practically forget what’s happening around us. We don’t even know if there is any imminent danger around us. St. Paul’s intention was to remind his listeners that they should wake up to their reality around them as he was preaching Christ the Lord of heaven and earth.

The Gospel of Mathew particularly attracts our attention. Jesus warns his disciples that it will be like those days of Noah when the Son of man comes. People will be busy with their worldly affairs, busy in their business, marrying and giving in marriage, eating and drinking and merry making. Well during the time of Noah people did not give heed to what Noah was doing. They perhaps mocked him for building that huge ark. Noah work was hard, first he had to build the ark, then gather all that was necessary to keep them alive during the predicted flood. Then he had to gather all kinds of animals and species in pairs to keep them alive on board.

The analogy of Christ's return being like a thief in the night is an important one, and we find it also used elsewhere (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:2). The imagery itself implies an arrival at an unexpected or surprising time, hence the exhortation to stay awake. As verse 44 says, he will come at an unexpected time.

Our waiting is manifested in our deep faith and hope we have. It is faith that instructs us to be awake.

What we should do then? Prepare our hearts, minds and our surroundings for the coming the Lord. He may come today, tomorrow or day after. It all depends on us how we prepare ourselves well for the day of the Lord.

Advent is a time to renew our spirit. We all know how tired we are because of our daily lifestyle. We tire ourselves working, spending time with our friends, earning, spending on things we desire, and gradually we get old without our awareness. What we need to do is to pause for a while and think of the real goal we have in our mind. What’s that goal? Some material achievements? They are good in themselves, but greater than these achievements we need to aim at our personal joy in the Lord’s coming to whom we need to give an account of what we have been doing.

We the faithful must stay vigilant and awake, knowing that Christ will return, though the timing remains unknown. The phrase "the day or hour," or even just the phrase "the hour," simply means the timing. It is not suggesting that the general time frame of Christ's return can be known in advance, but that the specific day or hour is obscure.
Judah and Jerusalem must be ready for the Lord’s coming. They must be encouraged to wait in hope.

Paul inform the Romans that they have to wait for the Lord fully awake. Jesus warning serves us better understand the uncertainly when the Lord will appear.

Jesus’ return sudden and unexpected
He shares several examples to illustrate, beginning with an allusion to the days of Noah in verses 38 and 39. Jesus doesn’t focus so much on the evil prevalent in that day, but instead focuses on the ordinariness of daily life: people are eating, drinking, and getting married. They have no concept that life as they know it is about to change radically, that their eternity is about to begin.

The scenario reminds me of Christmas time. We calendarize Christmas, or “Christ-Mass,” because of the birth of a Savior. But, for the most part, the holiday is completely overtaken by the commercialism of the season. Advent that is just before Christmas has become the mecca of consumerism. Instead of preparing our souls, all these activities save our economy. There is nothing wrong with a strong, family-oriented celebration centered around gift-giving. I love Christmas as much as anyone else. However, I am thankful that the Lectionary organizers always start off the church year, the first Sunday of Advent, with the second coming of Christ: Jesus came once; Jesus is coming daily in our lives and will come again on the final day. It takes us back to the basics.

So, Jesus talks about the extraordinary happening in the middle of ordinary, everyday life. Jesus’ return will be sudden; it will be unexpected. To illustrate, he gives a couple of examples from everyday life. Two farmers are working in the field; one is taken one is left behind. Two women are grinding wheat: again, one taken, one is left behind (vv. 40-41).

“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” (vv. 40-41)
In both settings, there seems to be little difference between the two men, or between the two women. They look the same on the outside. Yet, one heads to eternal life and one heads to destruction. In the blink of an eye. Everything changes. Without warning.

Our role is to be ready
Jesus says simply, “Keep watch...” (v. 42)
He gives an example involving home security. Back then they didn’t have police as we do today. The military might protect the upper crust of society. But if you were middle class or lower, you were on your own. Jesus said, “If you knew when the thief was coming, you would be ready to catch them in the act.” But since we don’t know, we must maintain a state of readiness around the clock. So many people today have perimeter cameras up around their homes. When they go on holidays, they check their phones several times a day if there is any intruder in their home property. This will alert them, and they can have a control over the situation. Yes, keeping awake is the right word for ADVENT.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

Recent photos of ongoing construction of Tiampo Memorial Hall at Carmel Hill - Canada : September 18th 2019
Dear Friends,

Here we go with the latest photos of the ongoing construction of Tiampo Memorial Hall at Carmel Hill - Canada. As we are nearing the end of summer, we have observed considerable work being completed. You will notice through these photos the packing of the outer walls of the hall with anti fire and anti weather proof material. The outer walls of the hall must be layered with at least 3-4 types of material before it is tiled to perfection. There is an addition to the hall building; a small boiler room construction, where wood chips will be burnt into a system to heat up the hall during the wintertime. At the same time a lot of work is going on inside the building; plastering, tiling of the floor, plumbing, and work of the kitchen. During these months we had the visitation by Rev. Fr. Johannes Gorantla OCD, the Definitor General who was appreciative of the work done. Fr. Alexander Braganza and Fr. Rajesh Madtha have been working very diligently to keep the campus ready for visitors and groups who come to pray and spend their time in spiritual activities.
Please click here for the photos.

BLESSING OF THE FOUNDATION OF MOUNT CARMEL SPIRITUALITY CENTRE - EDMONTON - CANADA
Dear Friends,
A long awaited day dawned on July 1st (Canada Day), 2019 at Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre - Edmonton - Canada. Fr. Mario Fernandes and Fr. Ivan Sanctis celebrated the Holy Eucharist and invited people to pray for the success of the new building of the Spirituality Centre and also asked a special prayer for Helen Chua Tiampo and Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza for their great initiative of this new project that will consists of 40 self contained rooms, a Hall, a big chapel with a capacity for 250 people, a residence of the Carmelite Priests (Monastery) etc. After the mass Fr. Mario Fernandes superior of the Spirituality cum Monastery (recently this existing structure and community has been canonically erected by the Definitory) blessed the foundation. There will be an Open House of information session on July 19th. A lot of money has already been spent to clear the trees and the mountain that gave way to this level space for the building. Please click the link below for the photographs. We are grateful to Fr. Mario and Fr. Ivan for their initiative and for the solemn blessing of the foundation. We are also grateful to Steve Creighton (Helen's Secretary), Darrell Wickstrom (Helen's Lawyer - Fasken Martineau), Pam Prior (KPMG), Kent Elliot (KPMG), Emmet McGrath (KPMG) for their suggestions on finances and their wholehearted support for this new venture of the Carmelites.
Please click here for the photos.

TIAMPO MEMORIAL HALL ALBUM NUMBER 7
Dear Friends,
These are the photos clicked during March-April 2019, springtime in Canada. A lot of progress of the construction of Tiampo Memorial Hall can be witnessed through these photos. You will notice through this album that a lot of interior design work will be accomplished in the following months. Due to incessant rains and other technical hurdles the exterior work slowed down dramatically in February and March, yet the intensity of the work is continuing. Frs. Alexander and Melvin Pinto have been not only catering to the continuous groups that visit Carmel Hill, but also doing the extra work of monitoring the progress of the hall. Ms. Helen Tiampo visited the site on April 14th with Fr. Rudolf and was very satisfied with the progress done so far. Mr. Steve Creighton has been very helpful to fix a few problems at the site with the assistance of the architect and engineers. We hope to complete the work in the coming months, but the exact date of completion is yet to be confirmed. Now that Fr. Rajesh Madtha the new community member has just joined Little Flower Monastery on June 15th, he will be contributing his share in shaping this place.
Please click here for the photos.

REV. FR. JOHANNES, DEFINITOR GENERAL ENDING HIS PASTORAL VISITATION with the INAUGURATION OF THE NEW BOOK
Dear Friends,
On May 14th Rev. Fr. Johannes Gorantla, Definitor General concluded his pastoral visitation in Canada with a fraternal gathering at St. Edmond's Church Rectory. During this concluding celebration Rev. Fr. Johannes encouraged all members to be faithful to Carmelite Charism and congratulated all for their selfless service and dedication. Fr. Jerald D'Souza, the Regional Superior made arrangements for a wonderful dinner and welcomed all members of Western Canada. We also remembered other members who could not be present for the occasion. The Definitor General highlighted some features of the Region especially focusing his attention on the two establishments; one at Carmel Hill-Little Flower Monastery that has been already canonically erected and the other where the process is on for canonically erecting the Mount Carmel Spirituality centre. He insisted that at all our places of pastoral ministry there should be minimum of 3 members present. This would be officially realized by April end 2020.
During this occasion Fr. Definitor General released the new book of Fr. Rudolf "Living in the Loving Castle" along with Helen Chua Tiampo.
Please click here for the photos.

click on the image for an enlarged view

LIVING IN THE LOVING CASTLE, Canadian Carmelite Publication, Deroche (Canada, 2019), pp. xiv+174.

Rev. Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD has completed his new book on the Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila titled: Living in the Loving Castle. This is his 35th literary product. The book contains 27 articles methodically written scanning through Mansion after Mansion browsing through every chapter. These articles partially appeared on the Karnataka Goa Carmelite Province’s Website during the V Birth Centenary Year of St. Teresa of Avila. Now this complete volume, can be termed as Commentary on the Interior Castle of St. Teresa is available in a book form Published under Canadian Carmelite Publication – Canada. The articles on the above-mentioned website received a lot of positive and encouraging feed back from many readers from all over the world. The book has 188 pages helping anyone for a smooth easy reading. Most Rev. Greg Homeming OCD, Bishop of Lismore – Australia has given his very positive short review printed on the back-cover page. Rev. Fr. Charles Serrao OCD (Provincial) has written a beautiful Foreword for the book. The book will be marketed mainly in North America and copies can be ordered from Little Flower Monastery – Deroche – Canada.

HOLY WEEK AT MOUNT CARMEL SPIRITUALITY CENTRE AT EDMONTON
It was a great weekend beginning from Holy Thursday till Holy Saturday hundreds of pilgrims visited our Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre. Frs. Mario Fernandes and Ivan Sanctis organized the celebrations well and Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza presided over all the celebrations. On Good Friday there were approximately 1500 people visited the centre in batches beginning at 6.30 am till the early morning of the Holy Saturday for the Stations of the Cross devotion. The community members had to provide them all the facilities including arrangements for food and snacks. For the Holy Saturday vigil mass there were around 50 people present from the neighbourhood, as it is not a parish. People were also very curious to know the ongoing ground preparation works for the construction of our Spirituality centre.
Please click here for the photos.

TIAMPO MEMORIAL HALL ALBUM NUMBER 6
Dear Friends,
It has been a considerable time that we updated you on our ongoing construction of Tiampo Memorial Hall at North Deroche Road, Carmel Hill. The construction work slowed down during winter time especially in December 2018. Now that there the weather condition has improved, we see a lot of work in progress. You will notice over all construction work and in a very special way you see a small foundation has been put for the boiler. This facility is designed to cut the cost of heating system. It will work with chopped wood. The technology is simple, ecological, perennial and cost effective. It is enough that once in two months the chopped wood is loaded into the system and the boiler will work through without interruption and no need for any fuel or gas. The present system in the monastery works with propane gas and is expensive. This will be sorted out and both connections (wood and propane gas) will be in place in case there is an emergency. We had the pleasure of working with the community members especially Fr. Alexander Braganza, superior and director of the Institute, who has been monitoring the work as well as the security matters at the site throughout. We acknowledge special attention given by Steve Creighton whenever we ran into some trouble at the site. He has been very engaging in this process. More photos will be posted in the forthcoming album.
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TIAMPO MEMORIAL HALL ALBUM NO. 5
Dear Friends,
Here I enclose Tiampo Memorial Hall album no. 5. The work has continued even during this winter due to better weather conditions. The wooden beams of the hall are getting in place. The wood which is imported from Germany is called CLT (cross laminated technology) has the resistance to climate fluctuations and durable for 150-200 years. They are chemically processed and machine glued together. Each beam has approximately 8 layers of wood pressed together with a type of glue that does not allow moisture or heat penetration. With CLT wooden beams even 12 story buildings are erected in North American continent. This CLT technology is safe and fire resistant. Please click below this link for more information on the type of buildings built here in North American continent:

We had a rare visitor to our property, Fr. Ivan Sanctis from Edmonton community who was here for a few days for his annual retreat. The donor Ms. Helen Tiampo too visited the site and was very happy with the progress of the work. Please click the link below for photos. Its a huge album with photos taken on different occasions.
Please click here for the photos.

MOUNT CARMEL SPIRITUALITY CENTRE HAS BECOME THE TALK OF THE TOWN
Dear Friends,
With the Magic of Fr. Mario and Inspiration from Fr. Ivan Sanctis, Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre at Edmonton has become the talk of the Town. More and more people flocking at the centre has invigorated our friars. In 2019 we plan to organize multiple retreats, seminars and contemplative prayer sessions. With the work at the centre progressing and a number of people interested in spirituality is good news to all of us. Fr. Mario and Fr. Ivan arranged a short retreat recently.
Please click here for the photos.

Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre construction site
Dear Friends,
A lot of work is going on within Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre campus - Edmonton. The photos you will find in the album give a glimpse of the levelling of the site. This entire area was a mountain and they have almost levelled it for the construction of the Spirituality Centre. There is a lot of ground work to be completed before the construction starts. Before clearing this mountain, the district ordered to remove a lot of trees. This was a thick forest with huge trees. They were cleared during summer time. As you see snow around, it took almost three months to come to this stage. Well, work may halt within a few weeks from now for winter pause and Christmas time as movement of vehicles and machinery will be very difficult. During winter normal temperature is below zero, at times it can come down to (minus) -40 Celsius. Enjoy the photos.
Please click here for the photos.

MOUNT CARMEL SPIRITUALITY CENTRE - EDMONTON
Fr. Mario and Fr. Ivan organized a number of retreats at Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre at Edmonton and this centre is getting popular in the Archdiocese. The photos below are of one of such retreats. More albums and photos will follow. In spite of the work at site for the new building of the Centre, a number of people are eager to come to this place of silence and Contemplation. People for now try their best to stay in the wooden cabins until the fully furnished centre is ready. The community members meet from time to time to discuss the ongoing spirituality and retreat programs. There is also a great demand for retreats in the Archdiocesan parishes. Fr. Rudolf recently preached a retreat and he will be giving a series of retreats on Carmelite and Christian Spiritualty at the Centre. The next retreat will be held on February 1-2, 2019 at the centre: Theme - God Experience through the Holy Scripture. The next album will highlight the ongoing the construction site of Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre.
Please click here for the photos.

TIAMPO MEMORIAL HALL ALBUM NO. 4
Dear Friends,
This is Album number 4 of Tiampo Memorial Hall under construction at Carmel Hill (Canada). The mounting of wooden walls has begun. The wood that is needed for the entire hall has already been stacked in the compound. A lot of space cleared around the hall is for parking lots approximately for 200 cars. We are grateful to Fr. Alexander Brangaza (Superior) and Fr. Melvin Pinto for sacrificing their time both in managing the programs at Little Flower Monastery and monitoring the work that is taking place at the construction site. Please click the link below for latest photos.
Please click here for the photos.

TIAMPO MEMORIAL HALL ALBUM NO. 3
Dear Friends,
Here are the latest photos of the ongoing construction of Tiampo Memorial Hall at Carmel Hill, Canada. We have obtained the basic necessary permissions from the Fraser Valley District and the foundation of the Hall is almost complete. We had the great privilege of having Helen visit the site on September 10th. Fr. Alexander Braganza and Fr. Melvin Pinto offered us their wonderful hospitality in the Monastery. The ground Engineer of Alfred Horie Constructions, Mr. Dennis Cardin showed us the site and explained in detail how this hall will be constructed. The next move of the construction of the Hall will be raising of the walls. The material for this second phase has already arrived from Germany. These photos clicked by Rev. Fr. Alexander Braganza OCD, Superior, Little Flower Monastery.
Please click here for the photos.

Dear Friends,
Jivitamruth series in Daijiworld 24X7 from Episode 219-269, a total of 50 Episodes on Christian Spirituality will be transmitted live twice a day from the second week of September till beginning of December. The hosts of this series are Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza (Canada) and Mr. Denis Mascarenhas (Oman - Muscat). The episodes will be relayed from Monday till Friday every week from 7 am till 7.30 am and evening 7 pm till 7.30 pm.

Please click here to watch the entire series of Jivitamrut on Daijiwork24X7

TIAMPO MEMORIAL HALL WORK PROGRESS ALBUM NO. 2
Dear Friends,
Here in Canada we have a wonderful hot summer. It's really great to have the Sun with his full force on us during this time of the year, especially this year. The work at Tiampo Memorial Hall at North Deroche Road is in full swing. With all the initial hurdles overcome we have a temporary building work permit thanks to the hard work of our Architect John Clarke, Darrell Wickstrom and Steve Creighton. The basic foundation work is almost complete. You can see the infrastructure being slowly in up word swing process. Due to summer holidays the work is a bit slowed down but will certainly pick up as soon as the summer holidays are over. A lot of underground work is complete and now we wait for the wooden structures to arrive from Germany. You can still see a lot of concrete work that is completed. Huge road work is in progress and a big parking lot is being constructed. You can see the huge pile of stones dug out of the foundation excavation which will be crushed on site and used for the construction of the hall. Please click the link below for the visuals of the work site of Tiampo Memorial Hall.
click here for the photographs

Guardian Angels Parishioners gave a solemn send off to Rev. Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza
On July 7th Guardian Angels Parishioners gave a solemn send off to Rev. Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD, after completing 8 years 11 months at the parish. Rev. Frs. Jerald D'Souza, John Alex Pinto, Fr. Alex Braganza, Fr. Melvin Pinto, Fr. Rajesh Madtha and Fr. Vincent D'Souza were present for the occasion. Solemn mass was celebrated at 4 pm and Fr. Rudolf preached during mass and thanked the parishioners for their support, friendship, love and warmth of fellowship. At the end of the Holy Eucharistic celebration the souvenir book of Guardian Angels Parish titled PEARL OF SPIRITUALITY was solemnly released by Helen Chua Tiampo and all parishioners were gifted with this book on Saturday and during all the masses on Sunday July 8th. This book contains a complete profile of the parish from its foundation till date. Special focus on the various upgrades that were accomplished during the time of Fr. Rudolf being Pastor have been exhaustively reported. In addition to this a complete report of all the projects realized in Canada and in India has been elaborately given with the appropriate photographs. Fr. Rudolf as he was very active in his preaching and writing, a section is dedicated to his mass media apostolate including an entire section on the kindle books recently uploaded on amazon. The last part of the book is dedicated to various parish activities, groups and apostolate with relevant photo albums. The book contains 222 pages and is well documented.
Please click the link below for more details on the book titled:
PEARL OF SPIRITUALITY

CONSTRUCTION WORK PROGRESS OF TIAMPO MEMORIAL HALL AT CARMEL HILL ALBUM NO. 2
Dear Friends,
The work at Carmel Hill has begun with full force with the construction of Tiampo Memorial Hall progressing rapidly. The recent developments are the ground is cleared and the stones are crushed and removed. Infrastructure for the Hall construction is getting ready. The underground water and sewer equipment has been already installed like septic tank, pumps etc. Now the work will continue to erect concrete pillars and then the basic structure will be seen. For more details please click the link below.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
Vancouver - Canada
Please click here for more details:

Tiampo Memorial Hall construction at Carmel Hill - Canada
Dear Friends,

Here I send you photos of the construction of the Tiampo Memorial Hall at Carmel Hill - Canada. We will be regularly updating you the progress of the work. The ground has been cleared of stones and rubble as on in the first week of March 2018. This work has been massive as practically the adjacent mountainous area had to be brought to the level of the existing Little Flower Monastery. We are yet to get permit from the District as some conditions are to be fulfilled. We are grateful to all the work force for this tremendous job. A very special thanks to Helen.

Please click here for more details:

CONGRATS TO FR. STENY MASCARENHAS OCD
Dear Fathers and Brothers,
Here is the link to the upgraded Grotto of our Lady engineered by Fr. Steny Mascarenhas OCD the Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church - Agassiz. Fr. Steny has proved himself to be an able, dedicated, hardworking pastor in the parish and in the neighborhood and has united the divided parish within this short period of time. We congratulate him for his great success. Fr. Steny has introduced apart from Carmelite Spirituality among the people; popular devotions to Mother Mary of Mount Carmel, St. Anthony of Padua, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Elijah. He has visited people in the parish and instilled in them desire for faithful following of Christ. His presence has enhanced the faith of people and has enhanced their desire for spirituality and contemplation. From time to time Fr. Steny conducts what we call Carmelite Medition and Contemplative sessions.
Hats off to you Fr. Steny.

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Ephphatha House changes hands

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News on www.mangalorean.com
News on www.daijiworld.com

Dear Friends,
Here is a first shot at the on going progress of the external Stations of the Cross at Carmel Hill - Little Flower Monastery. The trail of the Stations of the Cross extends to more than a kilometer and goes right up to the adjacent mountain at the back of the monastery. We are happy to note that a lot of people have already paid a visit and many come to do the devotion of the Stations of the Cross. You can also see Rev. Fr. Alexander Braganza who has been recently appointed Superior at Carmel Hill. The Stations of the Cross will be officially inaugurated when Rev. Fr. Charles Serrao (Provincial) will make his pastoral visitation in September this year.

Enjoy the photos
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.cccsocd.ca
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LIVING FLAME APP ON THE WAY

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Dear Friends,
This is to share the joy of the arrival of the Stations of the Cross statues from the USA (Dallas) and we have unpacked them and kept in our barn. When the winter is over we install them from the Monastery to Mountain top with a beautiful trail for the use of the faithful who will visit our Monastery. We are immensely grateful to Helen and her company and those involved in making this dream come true.

Thanking you
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.cccsocd.ca
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Snow at Carmel Hill

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The first step at Mount Carmel School at Kadaganchi!
The Ground Floor of the Mount Carmel School, Carmel Giri, Kadangachi, Kalaburagi was inaugurated on the 26th of January, 2017. Most Rev. Robert Miranda, Bishop of Gulbarga blessed the Crucifix that was unveiled by Rev. Fr Charles Serrao, Provincial Superior. After placing it at the entrance of the school, all venerated the Cross. Then the Provincial unveiled the plaque bearing the name of the Helen Chua Tiampo, the magnanimous sponsor of the project. Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza, the regional Superior of the Carmelites of the Canada Region inaugurated the completed building by cutting the ribbon. After a meaningful prayer service, the Bishop blessed the newly constructed building along with Fr Rudolf V. D’Souza.
There followed a small cultural programme organized by the staff and students of the school. Fr Arun Bennis the Head Master of the School spread a red carpet of roses to all the invitees. Fr Sylvester Pereira, the Superior and correspondent of the School presented a bird eye view of the project and the history of the venture. The Bishop addressed the gathering and appreciated the dedicated service of the Carmelites in the diocese of Gulbarga, especially in Kadaganchi Village. The LKG and UKG children of the school were exuberant as they sang and danced to the tune of music in an enchanting dance performance.
Fr Rudolf V. D’Souza who was present on behalf of the Sponsor expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the local team for their untiring job and committed work in realizing the venture. Quoting the Vedas he said our school is geared towards leading the people from falsehood to truth, darkness to light and death to life – a total transformation of life and appealed for the support and cooperation of the localites and the parents in leading the school to greater heights. Rev. Fr Charles Serrao expressed sentiments of gratitude to one and all especially the contribution and the hard work of Fr Rudolf V D’Souza without whom the project would have been a bed of thorns. The Bishop, Fr Rudolf V. D’Souza, Fr Sylvester Pereira and Fr Lawrence D’Cunha were honored by the provincial. The local community honored the Provincial for his support and encouragement. Rev. Fr Nelson Pinto compered the whole programme. The presence of many priests from the diocese of Gulbarga was commendable. The parents and many people from the village witnessed the historical event. After the programme all the invitees were served snacks and cold drinks.
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Canadian Carmelites' Regional meeting held at Kitchener - Hamilton (Ontario)
We the members of Canadian Carmelite Region of Karnataka-Goa Province met together at Kitchener-Hamilton from August 22nd to 25th for our annual meeting. after our arrival on n August 22nd, we had the solemn celebration of the Holy Eucharist on August 23rd; Fr. Rajesh Madtha, the Birthday boy being the main celebrant and Fr. Jason Tellis the inspiring preacher. Fr. Rajesh Madtha was felicitated after the mass and people who gathered prayed for him and congratulated him. After the Holy Eucharistic celebration, we had morning prayer followed by a great breakfast. At 10 am we began the meeting by the reading the last meeting's report and election of the secretaries for registering the minutes of the meeting. Many issues connected with the region and its development were discussed. Fr. Jerald D'Souza presented the annual accounts to the members and Fr. Ranjan D'sa briefed the members the obligations all residents have towards CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) were elaborated. We also discussed the prospects the Carmelites have in Canada and the need for recruiting new vocations was also an important point that was thoroughly discussed.
After the meeting, we had a great lunch and thereafter we visited St Joseph's Cloistered Carmel at Agatha - Hamilton. We all the members are intensely grateful to Fr. Jerome Mascarenhas and Fr. Roshan D'Souza for making our stay comfortable and providing us with tempting banquets of great and delicious food. We also thank all the members especially Fr. Jerald D'Souza for organizing the event and Fr. Ranjan D'Sa for technical support. Frs. Jason Tellis, Fr. Mario Fernandes, Fr. Victor Fernandes have provided us with the logistical support and Fr. John Pinto for his great moral and spiritual support during this week. Fr. Steny Mascarenhas and Fr. Godwin were busy in contacting the local security to keep us safe during this great event. Fr. Alwyn Sequeira was entrusted with the work of liturgy and spirituality and was successful in keeping up the real Carmelite Spirit among us. We did not give any work given to Fr. Rajesh Madtha as he was celebrating his birthday. Fr. Alfredo was entrusted with the task of monitoring the situation and we thank him. Since Vijay Martin is new to Canada we kept him completely free; Frs. Melwin Pinto and Ronald Sequeira were also given total freedom as they looked tired and came from a missionary hard working region.
On August 24th we traveled to Niagara Falls to spend a day in fun, relaxation, and sightseeing. On August 25th most of the friars left back to their communities.
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD

Click here for more photos.

CARMEL HILL CANADA - GETTING STRONGER AND BIGGER - PHOTOS MAY-JULY 2016
Dear Friends,
It is my pleasure to let you know that our Monastery in Canada: Little Flower Monastery (Carmel Hill) is getting stronger and bigger. Since May this year till the end of July we had approximately 11 groups ranging from Bible Study group, Neo Catecuminal group, Jesuits Students, Aspirant Deacons, Angelina's Prayer Group, Lay sisters, Lay people, Blessed Sacrament Parish prayer Group etc. have come and experienced God and our hospitality. We are excited that many more have booked our facility and it is growing stronger and bigger. We have heard reports of our Monastery from far East of Canada (Ontario) to Vancouver a distance of 7000 kms. We get many visitors and are excited to know that this facility is indeed growing. Bro. Frank Sharma a new aspirant is doing his pre-postulancy in our facility and Bro. Joseph Giroux is continuing his religious life with regular prayer and community life and Fr. Alwyn Sequiera is managing the whole campus with caliber and expertise with the help of the community members. Apart from the lay people many diocesan priests have been visiting the facility and getting to know what Carmelites can offer to their parishioners. With the Blessings of Archbishop Michael Miller CSB who has been the greatest support of this Monastery we are growing in our attempt at sharing our charism to the whole Vancouver Archdiocese. Moreover, many Christian denomination groups are interested in using our facility for Bible Study, prayer and spiritual-theological formation. This has been a great gift to Karnataka Goa Province and we are ever grateful to Helen Chua Tiampo and her team that supports her vision for the Carmelites in Canada.
With regards and prayers
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society

Click here for more photos.

Dear Friends,
Here I send you the latest video of fully furnished Little Flower Monastery - Vancouver (British Columbia) Canada.
Enjoy the video. We have 10 groups booked already and we are going ahead with full swing massive advertisement blitz for the Little Flower Monastery programs.

BROCHURE OF CARMEL HILL, CANADA

click on the image for an enlarged view

THE LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY INAUGURATION SOUVENIR

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Dear Friends,
Here you have a 3 minutes short profile video of our Little Flower Monastery at Carmel Hill Canada. Enjoy the show.

HELEN CHUA'S 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEABRATIONS AT CARMEL HILL ON DECEMBER 28TH, 2015

CARMEL HILL - CANADA
Carmel Hill, is a dream come true of the Discacled Carmelites of the Karnataka Goa Province (India) in Canada. It is virtually a dream of dreams that is getting shaped through the monastery being built in this picturesque green surroundings at Fraser Valley, British Columbia - Canada. The surroundings of this beautiful area is filled with lush green meadows, mountains and beautiful lakes.

It was in April 2012 when Helen Chua Tiampo agreed to donate a piece of land to the Carmelites through Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza, that the seed of this great project was sown. After repeated discussions and meetings held with the estate planners and lawyers that finally a deal was struck to concretely find a land suitable for developing and realizing of the charism of the Discalced Carmelites friars. When at a meeting Helen C. Tiampo directed her secretary Mr. Steve Creighton to look for the land end of April 2012. Since M
r. Steve is in the field of real estate, he looked for almost 6 pieces of land in the Mission area of British Columbia. We zeroed in on a property at Sylvester Street, which was 20 acres in dimension. But as we were about to strike deal to purchase this land, someone else paid a higher price and we lost this chance. "This was God's work, because God wants us to go elsewhere" said Helen and "we need to look for another piece". Then in 15 days of search finally there was a 20 acreage of land with a beautiful house. Helen personally took charge of finalizing the deal and she strongly affirmed that she wanted this piece of land as there was a beautiful mountain right at the edge of the property. Immediately after initial documentations were done, Helen herself exclaimed saying, "this land for the Carmelites is beautiful with a mountain attached, we can call it CARMEL HILL". This is just the beginning of the story...

All the surveys and the covenants between Fraser Valley District and Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society signed to begin the work of construction. These covenants pertain to permissions obtained for Water, Road, Fire Department and Land Surveys.
Click here for more

FINALIZED ARCHITECTURAL SPECIFICATIONS AND DESIGN OF "THE LITTLE FLOWER FORMATION HOUSE & SPIRITUALITY CENTRE.


Click on the below links to read more

ARCHITECTURAL SPECIFICATIONS (Part1)
ARCHITECTURAL SPECIFICATIONS (part2)

HIGHLIGHTS

CARMEL HILL PROJECT

ALBUM NO. 32: SNAP SHOTS AT CARMEL HILL
Dear Friends,
Here I present to you the latest Album no. 32, containing various snap shots of/at Carmel Hill. These photos were clicked at random from March 19th to May 15th (2016). You will find in the first section the furnishing of the commercial kitchen, visit by our Architect John Clark and Paul Ownes, a special Photo of our dear Archbishop Michael Miller CSB, valuable visit by our dear Fr. Johannes Gorantla (Definitor General from Rome), the photos of a few groups who spent time at Carmel Hill and are totally amazed at nature, surroundings and the beauty of the place; Fr. Alwyn and Bro. Joseph Giroux the community members who manage the facility beautifully and a few nuns who spent time at our facility for spiritual recollection. All looks good at Carmel Hill; and the preparations are on to accommodate new groups in the coming days and weeks. We thank again in a special way Helen Chua Tiampo who made all this possible through her team of advisors, estate planners, accountants, and lawyers; and a special remembrance of her dear parents: Jaime and Josephina Chua Tiampo and we pray for the repose of their souls.

For more details of the recent brochure and flyers please log on to: www.carmelhill.ca

click here for the photographs

Thanking you for your prayerful support and encouragement.
Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
www.carmelhill.ca

Dear Friends,
Here you have a 3 minutes short profile video of our Little Flower Monastery at Carmel Hill Canada. Enjoy the show.

BLESSING AND DEDICATION OF THE LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY CHAPEL ON MARCH 19TH, 2016
Dear Friends,
Here I send you photos of the Blessing and Dedication of the Little Flower Monastery Chapel by Archbishop Michael Miller CSB on March 19th 2016 - Solemnity of St. Joseph, Patron of Canada. The weather was perfect and was the first day of Spring this year. Along with the Secular Carmelites there were 75 guests present for the celebration. Fr. Jerald D'Souza organized the liturgical celebration taking care of the meticulous details printed in the liturgical guide and distributed. Frs. Alwyn Sequeira, the Superior of the house, Bro. Joseph Giroux OCD, the bursar and Frs. Steyn Mascarenhas, Rajesh Madtha, Jason Tellis and Fr. Richard Francis D'Souza OCD were present on the occasion. Archbishop solemnly began the celebration blessing the Holy Water at the entrance of the Chapel and sprinkling on the faithful as he processed into the Chapel. After the readings Archbishop preached a spiritually enriching homily highlighting the importance of the blessing and dedication of a Chapel which has its roots in the Old and the New Testament. During the mass Solemn and long prayers of dedication were recited and sung; and the Litany of the Holy Saints was sung, after which the anointing of the Altar was held in a very solemn way; abundant oil was poured on the Altar Marble Slab and in a special way the Altar Relic was blessed and incense was burnt. After the celebration and before the final Blessing Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza thanked the Archbishop for all his help and guidance and thanked each and every one who was instrumental in making this Blessing ceremony a great spiritual nourishment and experience. We thank Molly Dias and Susan and Larry for their help.

Helen's parents Jaime and Josephine Chua Tiampo were specially remembered and gratefully acknowledged Helen's contribution towards this massive building of the Little Flower Monastery. On this occasion we thank all those involved in this project: Helen's Estate Planners, her lawyers Darrel Wickstrom, Leo Amighetti, Accounting department KPMG represented by Pam Prior, Kent, Emmet McGrath, Helen's secretary Steve Creighton, Francis Wong and others. May God bless them all for their time, efforts and their contribution. We also thank the Architect John Clark, Paul Owens, the Alfred Horie Constructions: Steve Paone, Dennis Cadrain and his helpers.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.carmelhill.ca
click here for the photographs

ARIEL SHOTS OF OUR MONASTERY at Carmel Hill
Dear friends,
Here are the ariel shots or drone shots of our property and the monastery at Carmel Hill. These photos were clicked by Dennis Cadrain. We all thank him for this unique service to us. Enjoy the photos.
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.carmelhill.ca



Click on the image for an enlarged view

 

LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY: COMPARATIVE ALBUM: FEBRUARY 24, 2015 and  2016
Dear Friends,
Good morning. Hope you had a wonderful week. Here I send you a comparative album of the photos clicked on February 24th in 2015 and on February 24th 2016. This comparison will certainly raise your eyebrows as to the work that is accomplished within one year from the moment we started cutting trees to the completion of the landscaping around the monastery. We will be posting the 31st album shortly. Thank you for your support and interest in this venture.
 
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
www.carmelhill.ca
click here for the photographs

LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY  ALBUM NO. 31 - First Visitors - Come and See
Dear Friends,
Here are the first visitors to our facility. When we met Archbishop Michael Miller CSB recently he said to us that a Diocesan Spirituality institute "Rosemary Heights" has been shut down due to maintenance costs as that building was old. He told us that there are many groups who would want to come and use our facility. Already a few groups have booked our facility after April this year. This is very encouraging to us. Well, we will make the best use of this opportunity to diffuse Carmelite Spirituality and to be a great service to the people of God and to the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
All the best

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
www.carmelhill.ca
click here for the photographs

Grand celebration organized for Fr. Alwyn Sequeira ocd
Dear Friends,
We had a grand celebration organized for Fr. Alwyn Sequeira ocd. He arrived Vancouver on January 19th and successfully completed his procedures in getting all his initial documents for his stay in Canada. On February 16th he met Archbishop Michael Miller and the Vicar General Fr. Joseph Phung. Then he he was introduced to various administrative departments in the Diocesan Chancery. Then in the evening we had a grand welcoming celebration at St. Edmunds community with an introduction from Fr. Jeson Tellis and prayer by Bro. Joseph Giroux, sumptuous dinner arranged by Fr. Jerald D'Souza and Fr. Steny Mascarenhas. Fr. Rajesh Madtha offered him flower bouquet and welcomed him into Canadian Carmelite Community. After our wonderful meal we gave him a tearful sendoff praying that he will continue his stay at Carmel Hill with Bro. Joseph Giroux OCD.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
www.carmelhill.ca
click here for the photographs

LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY - ALBUM NO. 30
Dear Friends,
After a long pause here I send you the latest photo album of the Little Flower Monastery at Carmel Hill - Canada. You will notice that the landscaping work is complete and we have put two remote controlled automatic gates at the main entrance and at rare entrance of the monastery. It is interesting to note that we have had quite a good number of students and people who wanted to come and spend their time at Carmel Hill; we have tuned down their requests as we are yet to complete the work. We are waiting eagerly to get the completion certificate and occupancy certificate from FVRD who are eager to see the work is completed. We are grateful to them. We are yet to furnish the rooms. The construction inside the monastery is almost complete and the commercial kitchen work is on right now. A Generator for 24 hours uninterrupted power supply has been already installed in the last week of January. Enjoy the photos clicking the link below:

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
www.carmelhill.ca
click here for the photographs

LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY ALBUM NO. 29
Dear Friends,
Here I send you the missing album no. 29. This album photos clicked between January 15th and February 2nd (2016). The main focus in this album is installing the generator to the monastery for 24X7 power supply. There was a major shift of the methane gas tank from near the monastery to another location as the fire department wanted it to be away from the monastery. Enjoy the photos.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
www.carmelhill.ca
click here for the photographs

LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY ALBUM NO. 28
Dear Friends,
On November 27th the workers at Little Flower Monastery were given a grand lunch arranged by Helen. We thanked the workers for their dedication and hard work. Mr. Dennis Cadrain introduced us and Fr. Rudolf expressed words of gratitude. On this occasion Francis Wong and Stewart Hayashi were present to enhance our joy. Fr. Rajesh and Bro. Joseph Giroux contributed their share to make this gathering vibrant.
Here are a few photos of the ongoing landscaping around the monastery. When completed this campus will look extraordinarily beautiful and neat.
Enjoy the photos

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza, Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society, Canada,
www.cccsocd.ca

For recent photos click here :

LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY BY NIGHT: ALBUM NO 27
Dear Friends,
Good morning. I am pleased to send you the latest photos of the Little Flower Monastery ongoing work. A few important things to keep in mind. First of all you will find a big green tank outside the building that is meant for propane gas for the use of the monastery; cooking and for the house heating system. There is also another wooden closet which is prepared for a generator in case of power failure. Recently due to heavy storm there was two hours power cut and this could happen in this mountainous area during autumn and winter. The landscaping work has begun around the monastery which will be completed within a month from now. You will see around the monastery the yellow posts or you can call them pillars which are for beauty as well as for roof support. The parking lot in front of the building is almost complete. Shortly two automatic gates will be installed both at the lower entrance and at Alfred Horie Company entrance which is the immediate entrance as we move up to our facility from highway 7. The interior work of another 10 rooms is yet to be completed. Enjoy the photos: click the link below

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society - CANADA
www.cccsocd.ca
  1 2
Click the link below for photos:

INSTALLATION OF THE NEW PASTOR AT ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA CHURCH - AGASSIZ - BC CANADA
The installation of Rev. Fr. Steny Mascarenhas at St. Anthony of Padua parish as Pastor was celebrated on November 1st, All Saints Day. Most Rev. J. Michael Miller CSB, Archbishop of Vancouver presided over the celebration and Rev. Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza concelebrated. The Eucharistic Celebration was solemn with the Knights of Columbus marching towards the Altar and saluting the celebrants. During the Homily Archbishop congratulated Fr. Steny and highlighted his duties towards his flock and requested him to tend his flock with care and concern. After the Homily the solemn installation ceremony was conducted introducing the new Pastor to the pulpit, confessional, to Baptismal font, to the entrance of the Church, to the Altar, to the Tabernacle and then to his seat. All this happened while Archbishop recited the prayers of installation. During the felicitation program in the Church itself two sisters were felicitated: Rev. Sr. Kitty and Sr. Theresa of the Little Flower Congregation as they were very actively involved in their apostolate among the Native Indians. Rev. Fr. Rudolf encouraged Fr. Steny to bring unity and harmony among the parishioners and to sow the seed of God's Love among them and he cracked a joke indicating that at the evening of our life we will be asked to spell a password to enter heaven and that password should be "Love" and not any other complicated word like "Czechoslovakia". After the mass Fr. Steny invited 170 parishioners and guests to a great sumptuous meal. The whole ceremony and celebration ended at 1 pm which had begun at 10.30 am. We congratulate Fr. Steny for being the third Carmelite Pastor in Vancouver Archdiocese.
Click the link below for photos:

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION OF FR. JERALD D'SOUZA OCD AT ST. EDMUND'S COMMUNITY ON NOVEMBER 5TH at 7 pm
The Grand Birthday celebration of Fr. Jerald D'Souza was held at St. Edmund's Community North Vancouver at 7 pm on November 5th. Fr. Steny Mascarenhas from Agazziz, Bro. Joseph Giroux from Little Flower Monastery Deroche and Guardian Angels Community members Fr. Rudy and Fr. Rajesh were present. The Celebration began by turning Water into Wine and the sumptuous banquet that was prepared by Fr. Jerry's friends from his parish was ready on table. Fr. Rajesh praised Fr. Jerry in 5 words of wisdom: J that stands for JOY; E stands for ENCOURAGEMENT; R stands for RESPECT and R stands for REJOICING and finally Y stands for YEARNING FOR GOD. Fr. Rajesh said he is a perfect Carmelite who combines in himself both Carmelite Spirituality and Spirit of Christ himself in his life. Bro. Joseph was the official photographer. Gifts were lavished on Fr. Jerry and balloons smashed during this joyous occasion.
Thank you Fr. Jerry
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelites
Click the link for Photos:

LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY BY NIGHT: ALBUM NO 26
Dear Friends,
So far we have been posting photos of the Little Flower Monastery taken during daylight, now you will really enjoy the photos taken during night time. Recently we received power to the facility but the external lighting and landscaping yet to happen. Once that is done you will get a better picture of this campus. Now the BC Hydro has just installed lights for night vigilance and to brighten up the campus to keep away a few night visitors to the facility; I mean the Deers and Grizzly Bears. Hope you enjoy these photos:

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.cccsocd.ca
   
For recent photos click here :

INAUGURATION OF LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY AT CARMEL HILL - VANCOUVER - CANADA

Dear Friends,
Today is the day October 15th, 2015, the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. We the Discalced Carmelites of Karnataka Goa Province in India and in Canada are grateful to God and to all of you for coming here to participate in our joy at the inauguration of Little Flower Monastery at Carmel Hill. Our hearts turn to God for his providence, inspiration and guidance. We wholeheartedly thank Helen Chua Tiampo who generously contributed towards this whole project in memory of her loving parents Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo. This is the first ever monastery by the Karnataka Goa Province of the Discalced Carmelites established in Canada - Vancouver.

The day was a sunny a beautiful day indeed. The guest arrived at the site by 10 buses and many other guests arrived by their own private vehicles. It was estimated that around 700 people were present for the event and 50 priest and three bishops for the liturgical celebrations. It was a fantastic celebration that highlighted the features of Karnataka Goa Province. Rev. Fr. Charle Serrao Provincial delivered a wonderfully prepared message, followed by a prophetic message from our previous provincial Fr. Archibald Gonsalves OCD. Archbishop Michael encouraged the congregation to pray for this facility that it may cater to future vocations and to spread Carmelites Spirituality. After the Holy Eucharistic celebration the Souvenir of Carmel Hill was released by Bishop Monreo and Helen release Fr. Rudolf's book THE WAY LESS TRAVELLED.

A wonderful meal was prepared by John Carlos and Company. Everyone was happy and enjoyed this unique occasion.

We thank our Archbishop Most Reverend J. Michael Miller CSB for his wholehearted support in granting us permission to begin this project and for his continued encouragement. We are grateful also to Most Reverend F. B. Henry ( Bishop Calgary Diocese) and Most Reverend David J. Monroe Bishop of Kamloops for their valuable presence, prayers and blessings on this occasion.

Our Provincial Fr. Charles Serrao OCD present amidst us today to witness this great event along with our previous Provincial Fr. Archibald R. Gonsalves OCD who actually encouraged us to have a house of our own in Canada during his many visits in the last few years. We are grateful to their support and prayers.

We want to acknowledge the co-operation extended to us by the Fraser Valley Rural Development Authority for their support and permissions for developing this property was represented by David Bennet. We appreciate the tireless efforts by the Architect John Clark and his assistant Paul Owens in designing this beautiful edifice of God. The Alfred Horie Construction Company have achieved this feat within a whopping 8 months time is remarkable indeed and deserves our congratulations and applause. Our special thanks go to Steve Paone and his team; in a very concrete way to Dennis Cadrain (Site Superintendent); Allen, Mark, Robert and other wonderful workers. We are grateful to Darrell Wickstrom for his tireless efforts at granting us timely advise on this project. Steve Creighton helped us to co-ordinate the whole event of this celebration. We thank Francis Wong who was instrumental in coordinating the entire progress of the building work. Stewart Hayashi was also instrumental in getting us the Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society along with Francis Wong. We also acknowledge the presence of Mr. Ben Kernan from Florida; and Pam Prior, Emmet McGrath, Mr. Kent and others who contributed their share towards making this event a memorable one. We thank the guest priest who came from Rome: Fr. Ivan Pinto, Fr. Lawrence D'Mello and Fr. Manoj Braganza. We thank the local news papers and especially BC Catholic for their coverage of this event. We thank Rizalina Geronimo, Jennifer Po and Oscar Geronimo for their support and help. Especially we thank our Carmelites Fr. Jerald D'Souza, Fr. Rajesh Madtha, Bro. Joseph Giroux and Fr. Jason for their help and support. We also thank all the Carmelites who came from different regions of Canada.
We thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. May God be praised through all these works for his glory. We continue to pray for Helen's health and may God grant her long life and happiness.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Regional Superior - Canada

Click here for the photo album

Dear Friends,
Here are the speeches delivered on the day of the inauguration of the little flower monastery. You will enjoy them.



BRITISH COLUMBIA CATHOLIC NEWS PAPER REPORT ON LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY INAUGURATION

click on the image for an enlarged view

 


click on the image for an enlarged view

25TH ALBUM: CONSTRUCTION WORK PROGRESS OF LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY
Watch these photos for fun. A lot of work had to be completed before the inauguration. The photos go from September 29th till October 9th. You will get a glimpse of the progress and hard work of workers.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza
Regional Superior - Canada
 
For recent photos click here :

ALBUM NO. 24 - LITTLE FLOWER CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS
Photos clicked between September 28th and following indicate the ground was ready with sand and rubbles for concreting. The sign-bearing huge stone was moved to the centre and the round about was being architecturally planned. More details in the photos.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Regional Superior - Canada
 
For recent photos click here :

ALBUM NO. 23 - CONSTRUCTION OF LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY PROGRESS PHOTO ALBUM
These photos clicked before the inauguration will be posted on website to complete the series of the photographs for record. These photos clicked between September 24-25th as the work progressed. During this time the work force concentrated on the compound to be ready for the inauguration. It had to be concreted and the road had to be asphalted.

Thank you
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza
Regional Superior - Canada
 
For recent photos click here :

ALBUM NO. 22: LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS
Dear Friends,
In this album you will notice we are close to the inauguration of the building. In fact a bit of explanation is required here. You will see the the building walls, I mean the wooden walls are covered with red and ash colour tiles. Before putting those tiles they covered the entire building walls with a plastic type of paper and then they put a sort of thick insulation material and after that they have installed these tiles. This is a very strong protection to wooden walls against adverse weather conditions like water, moisture, fire and other natural causes that could damage the walls. After these security measures the walls are safe. Enjoy this album.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
   
For recent photos click here :

ALBUM NO. 21: Little Flower Monastery Construction Progress Photos
Dear Friends,
Here is the album number 21. I send you these photos after the inauguration of the building. We had gathered at the site for arranging sound system and other details for the program. Fr. Jerald D'Souza along with some of his parishioners had come to inspect the place for sound system arrangements. That day we had a beautiful visitor to our property, a young deer was grazing just a few yards from our building. That was a great sight to behold.
Enjoy the photos:

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
   
For recent photos click here :

20TH PHOTO ALBUM OF THE WORK PROGRESS PHOTOS OF THE LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY AT CARMEL HILL - BC - CANADA
Dear Friends,
Here I send you the 20th photo album of the work progress of the Little Flower Monastery. By now a number of invitations have been sent to our friends and Carmelite family members. The work is satisfactory according to the contractor and we will get there on time for the inauguration. Just a few days ago BC Hydro installed electrical connection and water connection. You can see at the north end of the property a huge tank is processed underground which regulates the flow of water to the facility. When the building externally looks almost complete a lot of interior design is pending and moreover furnishing is to be completed as well. That does not discourage us but we need to intensify our efforts. We have ordered some Chapel items from Belgium and pews from Toronto. Some more items are on the way. The paving of the ground in front of the building will be partially done before the inauguration; but the ground will be levelled for this event most certainly.
All the best and more to come in the next few days

Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD, Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society, www.carmelhill.ca
   
For recent photos click here :

OUR MONASTERY WILL LOOK LIKE THIS WHEN COMPLETED
Dear Friends,
Our monastery will look like this when completed. This is the latest artwork which is typical reproduction of the would be building construction. All the best.

Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD, Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society, Canada: www.carmelhill.ca


LITTLE FLOWER MONASTERY -DEREOCHE ROAD BC CANADA
click on the image for an enlarged view

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 19
Dear Friends,
Here I bring you the 19th album of our construction work progress photos. At this point the entire structure of our monastery is complete. Now the interior design work and the final insulation of the roof work will start shortly. The big kangaroo crane will be removed in another two days from in front of the building. Then the campus levelling work will begin. Lots of work is pending but the contractor is quite confident to finish the job before October 15th. Here in Canada especially in the West Coast the climate has gradually become sober and the temperature is quite pleasant. The workers at our campus feel comforted due to change in the climatic conditions. We all look forward to this wonderful day of the inauguration on October 15th at 11 am. Fr. Jerald D'Souza has already mailed invitations to more than 170 destinations: parishes, convents and religious houses in Canada. We have also mailed a copy of the invitation to the Province Website and the Province Secretary has sent to all the members of the Province a personal invitation through email. Mrs. Molly Dias is working at the Souvenir to be released on the occasion. Helen Chua Tiampo has already imported Mass Vestments for the occasion and each priest will be gifted with one vestment in remembrance of this great event. We continue to pray that this program will be a great success in the Vancouver Archdiocese.

Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD, Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society, Canada. www.carmelhill.ca
   
For recent photos click here :

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 18
Dear Friends,
Good morning. Hope you had a wonderful week. Here in Canada it is summer and in India it is monsoon season. These are the photos of our construction at Carmel Hill. You can see in this album the work is in real progress and the workers are catching up with the task at hand with the deadline in their mind. All looks good. You can see for yourself the progress that is achieved in just 5 months from February 24th 2015 onwards.

I enclose here also a report of the Architect who has given an explanation for the wooden structure, which is not well understood in Asian countries as we asian are all accustomed to concrete structures. As I have seen here in North America 75% of the structures are made in wood and only in big cities if the structures have to be multi-storeyed they are constructed in concrete and glass. The explanation in the attached sheet is self explanatory and also in accordance with the teaching of Pope Francis who has given a clarion call to protect environment in his encyclical: LAUDATO SI.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society, Canada, www.camelhill.ca
   
For recent photos click here :                     click here to read report of the Architect

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 17
Dear Friends,
We are in mid-summer. I want to bring you the latest news and updates of Carmel Hill Canada. The construction work is on and in full swing. The contractors have an uphill task to finish the job on time. We all pray for them. Bro. Joseph Giroux OCD is keeping them happy with GAUDEMUS every alternative day after their work offering them snacks and coffee. I visited the site with Helen a number of times and each time when we enter our campus something new is ready to be seen. I am enclosing the latest photo album and you will enjoy it. Someone commented that this construction looks like a cardboard edifice; but you are wrong. This type of construction is very popular in USA and Canada and also in many parts of Europe. It is said that in UK they are building a 10 storey building with this material. The CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) has a life time of 150-200 years; and it is low cost maintenance and strong. Our contractor once said that if the concrete buildings can last 100 years, the CLT material building will last more than 150 years. Well, after these 150 years certainly there will be new technology to rebuild Carmel Hill with brand new generation of Carmelites who perhaps will think of putting up 25 to 30 storey Monasteries and preach God's Kingdom from the top of these high-rise monasteries.
All the best and God bless

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society, Canada. www.carmelhill.ca
   
For recent photos click here :

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 16
Dear Friends,
We are slowly getting there towards the completion of the monastery work. Yet a lot work is to be done. On this day when we celebrate Mount Carmel Feast we are getting a glimpse of the chapel of the Monastery. Partial roofing is done and the workers will begin mounting the panels and planks on the other side of the monastery shortly. All looks good. We are in process of preparing a souvenir for the inauguration of our monastery on October 15th; and we are bringing out the first edition of CARMEL HILL bulletin on this day of the Solemnity of Our Blessed Mother of Carmel July 16th, 2015. Wish you a wonderful feast and do continue to pray for the completion of this maiden foundation in Canada. We request you all to utter a prayer for the intentions of the donor.
Have a great day and wish you a HAPPY FEAST OF MOUNT CARMEL.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
Canada: www.carmelhill.ca
   
For recent photos click here :

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 15
Dear Friends,
Hope you had a wonderful week. Here in BC Canada its hot and summer is simmering. At times we have wonderful weather too. BC is suffering due to 128 forest fires. That is why it is hazy and smokey. Here I bring you the latest photos of our construction. It all looks good and progressing. We are yet to receive 4 huge loads of CLT wood from Germany. We have already received 6 trucks. The towing company has to help these trucks to get to our place from the the main highway no. 7. You can see in the photos the towing machines doing their job. We had a great time yesterday to supervise the work that is going on. The workers and the engineering teams are upbeat. Mr. Dennis and Mr. Allan are very hopeful to finish the job on time. They say that they have to work hard and at times overtime too. But it all looks promising. Please click the link below for more clear picture of the progress of the work in album no. 16

Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.carmelhill.ca
   
For recent photos click here :

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 14
Dear Friends,
I am pleased to bring you the 14th Album of the construction progress photos of Little Flower Monastery at 10789 North Deroche Road, British Columbia (Canada). After the foundation work the next phase of construction work began in the second week of June (2015). The CLT wood from Germany has to be assembled and put in place. The huge Kangaroo Crane will do its job; nonetheless it will take approximately another 5 weeks for its completion of the task. Then perhaps we have the next phase of construction: interior of the building. So far so good; and looking forward to completing this huge task in the first week of October this year. We thank Bro. Joseph Giroux OCD for taking care of the premises 24 hours.

Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
Canada
More details: www.carmelhill.ca
   
For recent photos click here :

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 13
Dear Friends,
Here I send you Album no. 13 from Vancouver - Canada. Work progress is intense and the expected loads of wood from Germany has arrived. We have received 3 huge trucks load of CLT wood and 7 more trucks are on their way. In just 5 weeks you will see the hidden monastery mushrooming up which so far was hidden with all the foundation work, piping, cabling and sewage and other systems being installed underground. We hope this album will give you a better idea of the work progress at the site.

Wishing you all the best
Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.carmelhill.ca


For recent photos click here :

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 12
Dear Friends,
Here are the latest photos of our construction work. Now the foundation is concreted and finished. A few days it will be sprayed with water for settling and strengthening the concrete surface. The next move is to wait for the ready made wooden walls and roof of the building; probable date for the consignment to arrive is the second week of this month. You can have an idea how far we have progressed in this project. For more details click the link to the photo album number 12:

Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.carmelhill.ca
   
For recent photos click here :

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS ALBUM NO. 11
Dear Friends,
Here I update you with the 11th Album of the Construction of the Formation House Progress Photos. As the Architect John Clarke said this morning that the walls and roof of the Formation house are on the way from Germany, it is a special kind of wood that does not burn in case of fire. Moreover, these walls are so strong and flexible that one can put any number of nails into it and still it can be made to appear brand new. We can drill a hole and refill it with a special wood material and can look as it were nothing is damaged. These walls are 5- 6 inch thick and strong. In other words these wooden walls are called CLT wooden blocks imported from Germany. Once the walls come to the site it will take the contractors to fix them in 3-4 weeks and then to the fix the roof will take another 2 weeks. Hence, by the end of July this year the structure should be ready and then the work of fixing the doors and windows and other finishing job will begin.

Sincerely

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
www.carmelhill.ca

   
For recent photos click here :

LITTLE FLOWER FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION WORK PROGRESS PHOTOS - 10
Dear Friends,
Here you have the 10th Photo Album of our Formation House Construction Work Progress. You can see the work progressing steadily and material is arriving on site practically everyday. Bro. Joseph is taking good care of the property and is very keen on locking the gates and opening the gates for the workers. He must also keep vigil at night because of the heavy machinery that is there in the campus. You will see a big boulder which will be moved to the centre of the lawn in front of the monastery and a brass plaque will be placed in honour of the parents of Helen.

Enjoy the Photos:

Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
Canada
   
LITTLE FLOWER FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS - 10

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS - 9
Dear Friends,
Here is the latest update on the construction work of Formation House at North Deroche Road, Fraser Valley District - British Columbia (Canada). A lot of cable laying work is going on. The toughest job so far has been the landscaping and removing huge boulders from the campus area. Hereafter beautifying work will begin. You can see the fire hydrant is already in place and water pipes are laid from the District Municipality water supply unit. After they give cable connections from the bottom of the foundation upwards as the floor heating system is to be set concreting task will take place as a portion of the foundation is already laid with concrete.

Hope you will enjoy these photos.

Sincerely
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
Canada
   
FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS - 9

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS - 8
Dear Friends,
Here are the latest construction progress photos of the Formation House in Canada. The foundation work along with heating piping system and sewer piping work is almost completes. We are expecting a whole load of wood from Germany at the end of this month, which is called CLT 5 layered wood that would constitute the walls of the house. Other works in the campus such as water supply, electricity supply and landscaping is going on. Hope you will enjoy these photos

With best regards
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza
Canadian Carmelite Charitable Society
Canada
   
click the link for photo album:
FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS - 8

FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS - 7
Dear Friends,
As you can see through this album the work is progressing well. The water connection and sewer connections are done. You will find a green and a red coloured huge tanks; they are meant for purifying the sewer water and will lead to a flat area where it is neutralized electrically and that water is used for gardening or for irrigating plants. Besides we also got the electrical connection what we call in India - Three Phased connection - for our Monastery. Moreover, we have completed the work of the water and heating connections beneath the foundation and you will find all those black pipes protruding upwards which will be connected to 20 self contained rooms, halls and the chapel. We hope and pray that this task will be accomplished on time. The ready-made walls of the formation house are imported from Germany and as per the information we have gathered they should reach the site in the first week of June this year. We continue to pray for the successful completion of this project.
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Regional Superior - Canada
   

click the link for photo album:
FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS PHOTOS - 7

Dear Rev. Fathers,
Here is a good news from Canada. Fr. Steny Mascarenhas has been appointed parish priest of St. Anthony of Padua Church (Agassiz). This parish is located at 23 kms from our Formation House at North Deroche Road (Fraser Valley) and 98 kms from Vancouver City. This is a great opportunity for the Carmelites to expand their spirituality in this region having a parish as well as a Formation house cum Spirituality Centre. Congratulation to Fr. Steny Mascarenhas.  Moreover, Fr. Steny has been promoting vocations too. He continues to be the vocation promoter for the regions and I enclose here the beautiful brochure he has prepared for recruiting vocations in Canada. We wish him all the best and pray continued Blessings from God for his ongoing apostolate.

Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
Regional Superior (Canada)


Click here for the Brochure

CONSTRUCTION SITE PROGRESS PHOTOS (6) April 1st to 8th, 2015
Dear Friends,
Here are the latest photos of our construction in Canada. The work progress is rapid and looks like an hectic zone. The plumbing work has begun and also the water line progress is on from the municipality. The huge pipes at the site gives an impression of the quickness of the work taking place. We request your continued prayers for the successful completion of the work.
 
FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION SITE PROGRESS PHOTOS (6)

CONSTRUCTION SITE PROGRESS PHOTOS (5) March 26th to 30th, 2015
Here are the latest photos of the Construction site at Carmel Hill, Canada. The foundation work is on and the concrete is being poured. The bulldozers ate at work digging a trench for the water supply from the municipality tank to the construction site. The rapid progress will transform the site into an active zone for the ongoing work of the Formation House.
Wishing you all a JOYOUS EASTER AND THE PEACE OF THE RISEN CHRIST.
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
 
CONSTRUCTION SITE PROGRESS PHOTOS (5)

CONSTRUCTION SITE REPORT PHOTOS 4 (MARCH 23RD TO 26TH, 2015)

Dear Friends,
Here are the progress photos of the Construction of the Formation House in Canada (construction site progress photos 4). These photos will let you know exactly in one month duration the foundation for the construction is being laid in a place where it was thick forest and approximately 3 metres hill and mud has been brought down to the level of the existing house nearby. If you see the site blessing photos on February 24th (Construction site progress photos 1) and now (March 26th) you will notice the rapid progress of the work and the amount of soil moved to another location nearby.

Wishes and Prayers
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza OCD
 
Click here for the photographs

CARMEL HILL REPORT from Canada (19-03-2015)
Dear Friends, here are the latest photos of the construction site at Carmel Hill. This is the fourth album (CARMEL HILL PHOTO REPORT 4). When you see the photos, at the right side you will find a caption on some photos explaining the right angle of the monastery. You will find in some photos the entire mountain at the background and the levelled area in front of it. That is the place where we build our monastery. In fact the mountain will be the real background of our monastery practically at the centre. Hence, Carmel Hill name very well suits this landscape. Next week we will see some activity of the real foundation being laid. Partial material has been arriving at the site. We also found some huge boulders in the foundation area which will be blasted shortly. Enjoy the photos.
 
Click here for the Photographs

CARMEL HILL REPORT from Canada (12-03-2015)
Here are the photos of the work progress at Carmel Hill (Canada). We obtained the official building permit today, which you will find on the yellow sheet. The work is on full swing and workers enthusiastic. Bro. Josef OCD at the site can be contacted through the following numbers: Carmel Hill (604 820 2400) and Josef's personal number: 604 500 9659).

Click here for the Photographs

CARMEL HILL - BLESSING CEREMONY OF THE FORMATION HOUSE CONSTRUCTION SITE
The Blessing ceremony of the construction site of the Little Flower Formation House cum Spirituality Centre was solemnly conducted by Rev. Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza on his 28th Priestly Ordination Anniversary on February 24th at 11.30 am. Alfred Horie Construction Company had its equipment at site, and Mr. Steve Paone the chief Managing Director directed the cranes to uproot approximately 100 mighty trees symbolically to begin the construction work at the site immediately. Members from Guardian Angels Parish, Secretary Riz Geronimo, Oscar and Heidi; members from St. Edmond's Parish and Secular Carmelites Molly Dias, Marylynn, and Susan - Larry were present. Mr. Francis Wong the accountant and Mr. Stewart Hayashi the investment in charge were present to grace the occasion.
Click here for more

GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY OF LITTLE FLOWER FORMATION HOUSE, FRASER VALLEY, CANADA
WWell begun is half done! The Canadian Carmelites of the Karnataka-Goa Province (India) under the leadership of Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza have taken another bold leap. The ground breaking ceremony of LITTLE FLOWER Formation House at Fraser Valley, North Deroche Road 10789 was held on 27th December 2013, the Birthday of our generous and benevolent benefactor Helen Chua Tiampo. Though the day began with incessant rains making it difficult for the invitees to reach the destination on time; providentially it all subsided when the ceremony began.  Click here for more

The Project Title: Formation House of the Discalced Carmelites.
20 rooms self contained, suite size (350 sqft); with the intention of multi purpose
Dining hall, chapel, library, lobby, laundry, meeting rooms etc.
Time line- completion: 2015 June-July
Permission Granted from Fraser Valley Development Authority
Architect: John Clarke
Executive body: Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza, Mr. Francis Wong, Darrell Wickstrom (Helen's lawyer); Helen C. Tiampo
Start date: End of February 2014.
Click here for more

NEW PIECE OF LAND ADDED TO CARMEL HILL

Click here for the Photographs

EX PROVINCIAL FR. ARCHIBALD R. GONSALVES'S VISIT TO CARMEL HILL

Click here for the Photographs

CARMEL HILL INAUGURATION

Click here for the Photographs

CANADA REGIONAL MEETING AT HARRISON HOTSPRINGS HOTEL BC CANADA

Click here for the Photographs

11TH SEPTEMBER 2011 BLESSING OF CARMEL HILL BY HIS GRACE ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL MILLER CSB

Click here for the Photographs

ZELATOR MISSIONUM - FR. GREGORY'S VISIT TO THE CARMELITE PROPERTY IN CANADA

Click here for the Photographs

ABOUT US
Since 2003 two of our Friars Fr. Jerald D’Souza and Fr. Mario Fernandes have been working in Vancouver Diocese, catering to the Secular Carmelites at various levels of their formation. Our fathers made remarkable progress in preaching, teaching and taking care of the Secular Carmelites from the parishes they were assigned to working as assistant pastors. In 2006 they began working in parishes at Down Town Vancouver. Fr. Jerald was assigned as the Administrator at Guardian Angels parish and Fr. Mario was appointed chaplain to St. Paul’s Hospital (Vancouver City).

Later seeing the need of more priests in Vancouver Diocese Fr. John Alex Pinto joined them and then Fr. Gabriel was sent to assist Fr. Jerald at Guardian Angels Parish. Consequently, Fr. Jerome Mascarehnas came to join hands with this expanding community.
 

HISTORY

A Short Historical Background:
When we obtained invitation from Calgary Diocese to establish another community there; Fr. Ranjan D’sa was moved from New York after his studies to take care of the pastoral needs in Vancouver as Frs. John Alex Pinto and Gabriel Dias had to move to Calgary. Rev. Fr. Provincial obtained official permission from Fr. General to adopt British Columbia and Calgary as parts of the mission of Karnataka Goa Province during the last General Chapter at Fatima. With this in mind Fr. Provincial suggested Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza to be the Regional Superior and administrator at Guardian Angels parish as Fr. Jerald would move to St. Edmund’s Parish. This was the wish of Archbishop Michael Miller to offer us another parish at his Archdiocese.  

 

CANADIAN REGIONAL
OFFICE BEARERS

Rev. Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza
Regional Superior

Rev. Fr. Jerald D'Souza
OCDS Provincial Delegate

Rev. Fr. Jerome Mascarehnas
Procurator

Rev. Fr. Mario Fernandes
Secretary

PROVINCIAL COUNCIL

Rev. Fr. Charles
Serrao

Provincial

Rev. Fr. Pius James D’Souza
I Councillor

Rev. Fr. Ronald
D’Souza

II Councillor

Rev. Fr. Oswald
Crasta

III Councillor

Rev. Fr. Clifford
D’Souza

IV Councillor

Rev. Fr. Sylvestre
D’Souza

Provincial Secretary


Now this is really something spectacular!
MOVE THE MOUSE AROUND AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

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