Homily: Lent 02C

Cycle C 2nd Sunday in Lent.

Gen 15:5-12, 17-18; Phil 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:28-36.

Transfiguration of Jesus

The world is full of manifestations of God’s glory. Every morning, from the depth of darkness rises the sun, transforming the sleeping, inactive and dull earth into a vibrant planet teaming with life and activity. The light and warmth emitted from the rays of the sun enlivens every blade of grass and burst open every bud longing to blossom. This transformation of nature has been a mystery wondered at by poets, pondered over by philosophers and absorbed by the artists.

Today the Gospel presents before us the scene of the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus was seen with two great prophets of Jewish tradition- Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the Jewish law and Elijah represents Jewish prophecy. And Jesus is shown as the possessor of the new law and the new prophecy.

The Jewish leadership had rejected Jesus, in spite of his unquestionable teaching and unimaginable miracles. Majority of the Jews held him in high esteem, but not comprehended the divinity of Jesus. The disciples could not understand the implications of Jesus’ teaching. In this background Luke highlights several prominent features of this event.

Luke says that the outward glory of Jesus was momentarily displayed. To the disciples who were constantly discouraged by the rejection met with Jesus, it was a source of strength.

Many a time Jesus was challenged to manifest His glory. When he was tempted by Satan, Satan challenged Him to manifest His glory by jumping from the pinnacle. His listeners challenged Him to manifest His splendour. The Jewish leaders challenged Him to reveal His majesty. But on this one occasion the veil of His humanity was momentarily lifted and His divine splendour and glory burst forth.

The momentary sight of Jesus’ glory on the mount filled Peter with enthusiasm and he declared instinctively “It is wonderful to be here.” Peter realized that it is always wonderful to be in the presence of God. Peter never wanted to lose this great event. So he said; “we shall build three tents. One for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Peter wanted to be with them in their glorious state forever.

All the people who have experienced God’s divine touch testify that it is wonderful to be with Him. Throughout the psalms the psalmist expresses his love for the House of the Lord. “I was glad when they said to me Let’s go to the house of the Lord.”

Joseph A. Robinson wrote the following lines describing the experience of transfiguration:

How good, Lord, to be here!
Your glory fills the night;
Your face and garments, like the sun,
Shine with unborrowed light.

How good, Lord, to be here,
Your beauty to behold

Where Moses and Elijah stand,
Your messengers of old.

In the year AD 302, Diocletian, emperor of Rome, issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. But one of his soldiers, George objected and with the courage of his faith. George loudly renounced the Emperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves, but George never accepted. Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have him executed for his refusal. This is the story of St George, who found life in Jess more wonderful than anything else in this world.

As Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top of the mountain today He takes us to the church where we have the glorious presence of Jesus. When we are able to spend some time in the silence of the church before the tabernacle, we will feel that it is wonderful to be here. Like the psalmist we will feel that being in the house of God will fill us with serenity.

The Three apostles were out of themselves with joy when they were granted to have a glimpse of Jesus’ glory. When you are in the house of God,

“Your hearts will be full of joy

And that joy no one shall take from you” (Jn 16:22)



Homily: Lent01C

Cycle C 1st Sunday of Lent

Deut 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13 ;Lk 4:1-13

One of the strangest monuments in the world is “The boot Monument” at Saratoga in America. It shows a boot with the inscription, "In memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental army, who was desperately wounded on this spot, winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution, and for himself the rank of Major General." But the monument does not mention the general’s name.

This monument is the symbol of a man’s succumb to temptation to wealth and power, memorial of a great treason that took place in the history of America. Benedict Arnold was an early American hero of the war. When he was tempted with the offer High Military rank and 10,000 pounds he was willing to accept terms from British Commander Sir Henry Clinton, and to betray his country. “The boot Monument” declares his treason to the posterity.

Today’s Gospel tells us about the three temptation of Jesus. Jesus was tempted to “turn a stone into a loaf of bread in order to appease his hunger; to worship in exchange for wealth, power and glory; and to throw himself down from the Temple top, so that he would get popularity, that people would acclaim him as messiah. But Jesus quotes the scriptures at each temptation and silences his tempter.

Our temptations closely resemble those of Jesus.

The first temptation was to “turn a stone into a loaf of bread.” God is always concerned about the material food of his children. When the wandering Israelites were hungry, God fed them with Manna from Heaven. When they were thirsty God asked Moses to strike the rock and bring water for them to drink. When they longed for meat God sent them birds to be caught and used. When prophet Elijah was hungry a raven brought him food. When Jesus saw that people were hungry he multiplied bread and fed them. The scriptures testify that God will give it to anyone who tries to know His will and does it. But when we procure the needs of life in ways that go against God’s will, due to our insatiable greed through unjust means, our possessions become our idols rather than God’s gifts. If it happens, the devil has succeeded in his plans. As long as we get for our sustenance we should be satisfied. “ We have to eat to live, and not live to eat.” Let us remember Jesus’ reply to the devil, “Man does not live by bread alone.”

The second temptation was the offer of power and glory. We are also tempted to consider human power and glory as something so precious that we never hesitate to have recourse to any means in order to attain them. The boot monument is an example of it. There are many examples of people drifting away from God, in search of power and glory. During the time of Solomon the Kingdom of Israel prospered and reached the height of its glory. The thirst for more and more power increased the social evils in the kingdom. In our daily life too this is a great temptation we have to fight against.

The third temptation was to jump from the Top of the Temple so that people would accept him as messiah. We are also tempted to gain popularity by any means. Popularity is a psychological need of every man. It is good to be recognized in society. We like to hear people speak good things about us. EE Cummings summarizes our need for social recognition in the following words. “We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” But when it is gained at the cost of others through unfair means, the devil succeeds in establishing his plans. With His reply to the devil Jesus wants us to follow his ways. He went about his work through humiliation, suffering and death, rather than a spectacular display of divine powers as the devil wanted him to.

We can certainly over come these temptations. This is the lesson that Jesus wanted everyone to learn when he allowed himself to be tempted. The weapon to overcome the temptations is prayer. Jesus’ prayer for forty days in the desert helped him to defeat the devil. Our own prayer too will assure our victory over him.


Homily: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

(Joel 2:12-18; 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2; Mt 6:1-6,16-18)

One of the events that changed the course of human history is the Kalinga war, fought in 265 BC between Emperor Ashoka and the people of Kalinga. About 100,000 Kalinga civilians and 10,000 Mauryan soldiers were slain. The blood reddened river near Kalinga proclaimed the intensity of the loss of human life. Mangled bodies of men, women and children lay scattered over the battle field. Pools of blood, widows crying over their slain husbands and the orphaned children arrested the attention of the emperor. He cast his eyes over the battle field and stood there contemplating over the transitory nature of human existence. He realized the great truth, “You are dust and to dust you will return.”

Ash Wednesday reminds of this great truth. The transitory nature of our existence. A poet expressed this sublime mystery in plain words

“As grass becomes green in spring time

So our hearts will open and give forth buds

And then they wither”.

The realization of this mystery urges one to repent and amend ones ways. In the Old Testament we see a number of instances where God sent his prophets to the people to warn them of their evil ways and to remind them to return to God. People who accept this invitation to repent and who regret about their shortcomings will express their sorrow in various ways which differ from country to country. The Jews expressed their sorrow by tearing cloth and putting ashes on them. One of the manifestations of inner repentance was pouring ashes on one’s body and dressing in sack cloth. “Having been rebuked by God Job confesses, “Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:6). Other examples of this practice are also found in the Book of Esther, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and so on.

In the New Testament Jesus alludes to this practice, “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you Bethsida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sack cloth and ashes.”

Lent is a time to deplore our past through repentance and a time to start a new life. So the external manifestations must spring from internal spirit. All the penitential manifestations will remain meaningless if they remain peripheral. That is why Prophet Joel summons the people to rent their hearts. He invites to repent hoping that God will forgive us. But St Paul assures us that God longs to forgive us.”

Along with fast and prayer there are also many ways of manifesting our Spirit of repentance. Giving more time to prayer, renouncing certain things which one can lawfully enjoy, helping ones’ own brothers are also external manifestations of internal spirit of repentance. The little acts of charity and kindness that we are able to perform during this lent will proclaim the spirit of our repentance and attempts to transform our lives.

The ash smeared on our forehead must be reminder through out the season of lent that we need a constant examination of our life and make it socially useful.


The power to hurt

No one has the power to hurt or insult you unless you decide to give the person that power.

When someone says something, I need to decide whether I will sulk because I find it insulting or whether I will use what he or she has said to learn something about mself and so use it to my advantage.

Homily: CycleC06

Cycle C 6th Sunday in Ordinary time
Jer 17:5-8; I Cor 15,12.16-20; Luke 6:17.20-26
Leo Tolstoy’s story “How much land does a man need,” tells about man’s insatiable greed for wealth.
Pahom is a poor man who proclaims to himself that if he had enough land he would not even fear the Devil. The Devil, of course, hears this and decides to give him land without him knowing. Pahom took the chance for land and wanted more.
Finally he came to the Bashkirs, a family with a huge amount of land. They tell him that, if he pays, he can have all the land he likes, provided he can walk the perimeter of it before sunset.
The Chief took off his fox-fur cap, placed it on the ground and said:
“This will be the mark. Start from here and return here again. All the land you go round shall be yours.”
Pahom took out his money and put it on the cap. He started walking neither slowly nor quickly. After having gone a thousand yards he stopped, dug a hole, and placed pieces of turf one on another to make it more visible. Then he quickened his pace.
Pahom went straight towards the hillock, but he now walked with difficulty. He was done up with the heat, his bare feet were cut and bruised, and his legs began to fail. He longed to rest, but it was impossible if he meant to get back before sunset. The sun waits for no man, and it was sinking lower and lower.
He looked towards the hillock and at the sun. He was still far from his goal, and the sun was already near the rim.
Pahom walked on and on; it was very hard walking but he went quicker and quicker. He pressed on, but was still far from the place.
Pahom looked at the sun, which had reached the earth: one side of it had already disappeared. With all his remaining strength he rushed on. He took a long breath and ran up the hillock. It was still light there. He reached the top and saw the cap. He fell forward and reached the cap with his hands.
Pahom’s servant came running up and tried to raise him, but he was dead!
In his sermon on the mount Jesus tells his listeners who were struggling like Pahom to amass wealth and make their life comfortable, “Blessed are those who are poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
A poor man is one who is devoid of something. Those who are poor in spirit are genuinely convinced of their own weakness and sinfulness. The tax collector came to the temple, stood at a distance, feeling unworthy to look up to heaven. He prayed, “Lord have mercy on me for I am a sinner.” The tax collector recognized his need for God and for forgiveness as he was poor in spirit.
“Poor in spirit” means to be humble. Humility is the realization that all our gifts and blessings come from the grace of God. Whatever we possess: life, intelligence, health and wealth are given by God. In the book of Job we read that Job was a humble man. When he received blessings and material prosperity he praised God and thanked Him for his bounty. When he lost all his fortunes He saw the divine plan of God in his misery. He humbled himself before God. And Job’s life shows that humility brings an openness and an inner peace, allowing one to do the will of God.
Jesus calls the poor happy, “because theirs is the kingdom of God.” It is pride the opposite of humility that brings misery. For pride brings anger and desire for revenge. Pride and desire for revenge destroys ones peace “Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before - it takes something from him.” Says Louis L'Armour. The psalmist advises us to “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:8). And “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult “(Proverbs 12:16).
In the opinion of Jesus, those are poor who are happy with what they possess, grateful to God for it all, all are not over anxious to obtain what they do not have, cherish humility and put their trust in God. Jesus trusted God the Father and cried out at the most agonizing moments of His life, “Father, let Thy will be done.” This trust strengthened Him.
Let us listen to the words of Jeremiah in the first reading:
“A curse on the man who puts his trust in man,
Who relies on things of flesh?
“A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord.”
Jeremiah declares that those who put their trust in God are like a tree by the water side. And they never cease to bear fruit.

Parish Apostolate

If you like to be successful in the parish come down to the level of ordinary people and be one with them. For example, St. Paul, he became everything to everybody.

by Fr. Pravesh Philip

Homily: CycleC05

Cycle C 5th Sunday in ordinary time
(Is 6:1-8; I Cor 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11)
Be open to God in the circumstances of our lives, to acknowledge that we are instruments of God
A large imperial court. Servants waited at the king for his command. They proclaimed the praise of the one seated on the throne. Holiness hovered over the court like a cloud. There at the corner of the court stood a poor wretched, unclean, frail man. His eyes fell on the king, and his state of unworthiness made him all the more miserable. He trembled with fear. One of the seraphs came down to him with fire from the Altar and touched his mouth with it to purify him. Then he heard the voice of the king,
“Who shall I send?”
The man answered, “Here I am, Send me.”
That is prophet Isaiah, accepting his divine call.
Today’s readings contain the theme of God’s call. The divine call of Isaiah, the call of
St. Paul and Jesus’ call to St. Peter.
There are several things in common in the way God called them and in the way they reacted.
God’s call is always unexpected. St. Paul was galloping to Damascus to persecute the Christians there. On his way, he received the call of Jesus. A sense of unexpected mystery overtook him and he asked, “Lord, who are you?”
The Gospel presents another unexpected call. An ordinary fisherman, Simon, was called by Jesus. He said, “Follow me.” And he followed him.
The Old Testament gives us numerous example of God’s call. And all of them came unexpectedly. Moses was tending his sheep on Mount Sinai, when he was called. The Judges Gideon, Esther and Deborah received their calls to take up a specific mission and the call came unexpectedly.
A feeling of sinfulness came upon them all; they felt totally unfit for the task, and tried to decline it. When Moses was called he said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh! Moses hesitated to say “Yes” to God. When Isaiah saw the overwhelming glory of God his sinfulness over took him. Jeremiah protested, “I know not how to speak. I am too young. When Jesus called St. Peter he said, “Lord, go away from me. I am a sinful man.” St Paul became aware of his utter spiritual misery. Momentarily, he became physically blind.
God responded to their sinfulness by reassuring them of His help. To Moses he promised, “I will certainly be with you.” Isaiah was touched with the divine fire. Jeremiah was told, “Have no fear; I am with you.” St Peter was assured, “Do not be afraid, from now on it is men you will catch.”
Once reassured by God they went through their task courageously, enduring innumerable trials. Isaiah cried out, “Here I am. Send me.” And he carried out the command of the Lord and prophesied till the end of life. St Paul exhibited unchallengeable Zeal until the sword of his enemies silenced him. St Peter remained faithful to his task to the moment his body became still on the cross.
Call of God continues in history. But we should keep our years open to hear, recognize and accept it. Let us remember the words of Khalil Gibran “Wisdom stands at the turn in the road and calls upon us publicly. But we consider it false and despise its adherents.”
A reminder from St Ignatius Loyola, “Even if you gain the whole world and lose your soul, what do you gain?” upset the tranquillity of a young professor and made him think. - think about the meaning of life. That was the unexpected call to a great apostle, St. Francis Xavier.
A young, curious and skeptic college student heard about a great saint living in the forest. He visited him with an intention to question him. When he reached there something overtook him. He sat at his feet and asked him, “Guru, Have you seen God?” There came the unhesitant answer from Guru, “Yes”, I see God in your eyes.” Swami Vivekananda recognized his call from the words of Ramakrishna Parama Hamsa.
These messages prompt us to be open to God in the circumstances of our lives, to acknowledge that we are instruments of God, and to offer our service to Him. If we can do this, God will accomplish through us what He has once achieved through Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul and Peter.