Monthly Archives: April 2016

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Preparing the Church to take its root

As we are drawing closer to the Ascension of Our Lord, which celebrates the Risen Lord’s enthronement and the feast of Pentecost, which celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles, the Gospel for this Sunday (John 14:2329) is leading us to these two events.

The Gospel for this Sunday is the Farewell Discourse of Jesus, which encompasses the parting words of Jesus to his disciples assuring them of the divine Paraclete. A Paraclete is one who encourages, persuades, exhorts, stirs up, urges forward and call for newness of life.

The Holy Spirit is the Risen Lord’s new and intimate presence to the Church. With Ascension, the physical presence of Jesus comes to an end and his presence is replaced by something far more wonderful, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who unites all of us to Jesus and his heavenly Father. It is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus has given to his Church, the power which propels and energizes the Church to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

In our day today life of the Church, the Paraclete not only encourages but also gives strength to the believers. He is the one who teaches them about everything that Jesus has taught and testified with his deeds. The Holy Spirit is also the heart and soul of the Church’s living tradition, guiding her in the various situations confronting the Church.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Church teaches authentically the divine truth revealed by Jesus Christ. The truth never changes; but it is applied to new situations. The Gospel truth does not depart from its original deposit of faith. Change takes place, as guided by the Holy Spirit in interpreting the Truth and adapting herself to the new situations.

In fact, after the departure of Jesus in Ascension, the Church has been solving all the problems, which she confronted, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. As long as we have the power of Jesus in the Holy Spirit, the Church will remain strongly founded on the rock.

God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Imitate Jesus

The reading from Revelation today speaks of a “new heaven and a new earth”. My Bible cautions readers that this book uses “extravagant symbolism”. The introduction to this last book of the Bible goes on to say that symbolic descriptions  are not to be taken literally. So what can we take away from this reading? How should we interpret this? I believe we should focus on how we, as followers of Jesus Christ can change and shape the present world to be more Christlike. How we can be the hands and feet of Jesus helping to bring about the new heaven and new earth. When we live holy lives, dedicated to God, loving one another as Jesus commands in today’s Gospel, we can change the world! People who live differently than the norm get noticed! Those filled with God’s great unconditional love have an inner peace and joy; they have a glow about them. This is noticed and sought by others because they want this for themselves. We can light a fire of love in those around us by simply sharing God’s love with others. When we set out to imitate Jesus, empowered by His Holy Spirit, we become Christlike. We help in our own small way to bring about a new heaven and a new earth. “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race,” we also hear in Revelation . How blessed we are that God humbles Himself to dwell with. He is present to us in a special way in the sacraments. He showers us with His Divine Life; the grace so abundant in these encounters with the Living God. He is present in the tabernacle and in the monstrance where we can dwell with Him in adoration. He is present in each one of us. Through Baptism, He made us daughters and sons, and we carry forth His presence in the world. We have the power to change the world! Go forth, the Mass is ended! That is our call to spread the joy.

Go change the world!

Deacon Ray

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Voice of the Good Shepherd

In today’s culture, many voices clamor for our attention. But the voice of the media is louder than anything else. Intruding our freedom, they sound through television, internet, cell phone and what not. Whether we like it or not, they arrest our minds and hearts with various messages, commercials and videos.

In the midst of such a disturbing social media, Jesus is presenting himself, in today’s Gospel, as a Good Shepherd confidently proclaiming, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:27 28). In our sickness we need a physician, in our wandering a guide, in our blind darkness someone to show us the light and in our thirst for life, someone to open the fountain of living water. Knowing that we are in darkness and lifeless, Jesus presents himself as the unique Shepherd, who can lead us to everlasting life. He has, indeed, gone to the extent of dying for our sake, in order that we may possess that life within us.

If only we free ourselves from the prevailing voices around us and listen, in the silence of our heart, to the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, then he will lead us exactly where we want to go, to the life eternal, which will not perish.

The confident message of Jesus that his sheep hear his voice, necessitates a positive response, a receptive attitude from us in listening to his voice, our Good Shepherd. Hearing his voice is to recognize the importance of his words and our willingness to place ourselves under his guidance and to offer ourselves to become his disciple. As Peter declared, we must exclaim, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the holy One of God” (John 6:68 69).

In order to hear the voice of Jesus, let us read the Bible, receive with open heart, when it is proclaimed in the Church and listen to the teaching of the Church spoken through the Pope.

God bless you

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Catch Someone for Christ!

Many of you are fishing enthusiasts, or perhaps have close family that takes a strong interest in this sport. States and provinces regulate fishing seasons within their own boundaries. For some species, the fishing season is open all year long and for others, there is only a brief time. It is amazing, for me originating from India, to observe the joy that some people have from fishing even during the winter months on ice! The season for sturgeon spearing in the upper Midwest can last just a couple of days depending on where the spearing takes place and when the limit imposed by regulation is reached.

According to data collected by the US Census Bureau in 2011, over 33 million Americans go fishing. In that year, they spent nearly $42 billion on fishing activities, including trips, equipment and licenses. Many people enjoy fishing ….and a segment of this population relish this activity as an opportunity for solitude in nature thereby thanking God for His beauty which surrounds us.

Peter’s fishing trip in this weekend’s Gospel is not quite as involved as some trips that modern day fishermen might take. Since he was a fisherman by trade, he likely walked out of his house, grabbed a few of his buddies, and went out in the boat for the night hoping to make a good catch. While there was always preparation to be done (mending the nets, repairing the boat etc.), from the Gospel story it seems that Peter’s decision to go fishing was pretty spontaneous. It was near dawn when Jesus showed up, and they caught a tremendous amount of fish.

Any avid fisherman is always ready to go out and fish! Once you’re out there, it could be just the right moment to pull in a lot of fish. Like a fisherman, we never quite know when the moment may come to “catch” someone for Christ. As Christians, we always have to be prepared to tell the story of who Jesus is for us, not in a formal or overly theological way, but by living our lives as kind and loving people. The witness that we give by our example is the only kind of net we need for inspiring others to God. Be aware of this in your manner that you live your life….because the Lord needs YOU for His fishing enthusiast.

Father Joseph

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Rejoice! He is Risen!

JesusRisen“But Peter got up and ran to the tomb.” Peter was unique in his response to the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Whereas, the other apostles disregarded the reports from the women who had seen the empty tomb and heard the angels announce the truth of the resurrection.

On this Easter day, we have a choice to make. We too have heard a remarkable report. We have been told that two thousand years ago, a man named Jesus defeated death and rose from the grave. To many people in today’s world, this sounds like nonsense, just like it did when it first happened. Some would like to dismiss the story entirely as a myth at best, or an outright lie at worst. Others try to spiritualize the miracle, suggesting that the resurrection narrative is a story that is meant to symbolize the power of God, but whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead is irrelevant. Finally, there are those who simply believe, like Peter, and make an act of faith and commit themselves to Christ.

This, of course, is the Christan way. It was not the Crucifixion that brought confidence to the early followers of Christ; but it was the Resurrection. This momentous event has always made all the difference! As St. Paul wrote in the Epistle to the Romans, “Just as Christ was raised from the
dead by the Glory of the Father, we too might live in the newness of life.” This Easter, may we experience the great joy of new life in the Risen Christ.

Christ is risen, alleluia, alleluia! Let us give thanks to God for bringing light into the darkness of our life and victory over sin and death! We are called to realize that what we experience and achieve in our earthly lives today is not the end; but it has a greater purpose yet to be revealed! May you and your families be showered with God’s choicest blessings on this glorious day and during the Easter Season.

Happy Easter,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.