Cycle B 1st Sunday of Lent

Gen 9: 8-15;  1 Peter 3: 18-22 ; : Mk 1: 12-15

There are many famous treaties made between the countries.  The Treaty of Verdun, ( August 843) was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious,  the son and successor of Charlemagne,  which divided the Carlingian Empire into three kingdoms. It ended the three year long Carolingian Civil War. The Thirty Years' War was ended with the treaties of Osnabrück and Münster in 1494. World War I Ended With

Ash Wednesday

Jo. 2:12-18; 2 Cor. 5:20-6:2; Mt. 6:1-6, 16-18

My brothers and sisters  today we are entering a new Season, one of penance and sacrifices. Together, we have gathered here to celebrate "Ash Wednesday," the first of forty days of the Lenten Season. On this special occasion, we are called to be reconciled to God. Through the sacramental of ashes that is symbolic of penance, we are reminded that we as sinners are but dust and ashes. [Gen. 18:27]. The spiritual practice of applying ashes on oneself as a sign of sincere repentance goes back to thousands of years [Jer. 6:26].

The sacramental that we are observing today arises from that custom, the spiritual practice of observing public penitence.

Church history tells us that the liturgical practice of applying ashes on one's forehead during the Lenten Season goes back as far as the eight century. This was accompanied by different forms of fasting, prayer, sacrifices, charity towards others, etc... The writings of St. Leo, around 461 A.D., tell us that during the Lenten Season, he exhorted the faithful to abstain from certain food to fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of forty days.

In ancient society there were  various forms of  expressions of  penance. In India the highest expression of penance was the "Tapas."  In the ancient world it was  very common to rent the clothes and smear oneself with ashes as a sign of repentance.

The Uttara Khanda tells the story of Valmiki's early life, as an unnamed highway robber who used to rob people before killing them. Valmiki was the son of Sumali. His  name was Ratnakara. One day Narada Muni was passing by that way when he ran into Ratnakara, who insisted them to give everything he owned, from his clothing to the shoes he was wearing. Narada asked Ratnakara why he was committing this sin. Ratnakara answered that this was the only way to provide food for his family. Narada, then, asked him if his family was part of this sin that he was committing and he told him to go ask his family that same question. Ratnakara tied Narada to a tree to make him stay in that same spot until he was back. When Ratnakara asked his parents if they were with him on the sin that he was doing, they replied that it was his job to take care of them, and that he was only responsible for his own sins. His wife also said the same thing. Ratnakara then returned to Narad Muni and fell to his feet. He told him that he alone was responsible for the sins and asked him to help him get rid of the sins he had committed. Narada told him to repeat Lord Rama's name and that would assist him. Then, after Narada left, Ratnakara went into a deep penance. After a long penance, a divine light came upon him. He was free from all sins, and that he was to be called "Valmiki".

 Repentance for ones mistakes  causes the divine light fall on him, and transforms him. David listened to the words of Prophet Nathan, and repented. At that moment God's grace fell on him.  In power and wealth, Ahab, king of Samaria, outstripped other kings. As for his wealth, it was so abundant that each of his hundred and forty children possessed several ivory palaces, summer and winter residences.  But what gives Ahab his prominence among the Jewish kings is neither his power nor his wealth, but his sinful conduct. At his order the gates of Samaria bore the inscription: "Ahab denies the God of Israel." He was so devoted to idolatry. But, Under Jehoshaphat's influence and counsel, Ahab did penance for his crime, and the punishment God meted out to him was thereby mitigated.

The cycle of legends concerning Joachim and Anne were included in the Golden Legend and remained popular in Christian Art. Joachim is described as a rich and pious man of the house of David who regularly gave to the poor and to the temple.  However, as his wife was barren, the high priest rejected Joachim and his sacrifice, as his wife's childlessness was interpreted as a sign of divine displeasure. Joachim consequently withdrew to the desert where he fasted and did penance for forty days. Angels then appeared to both Joachim and Anne to promise them a child. St.Paul repented of his actions, and God sent Ananias to tell him that he had found favour in the sight of the Lord.

In all the traditions there were three basic elements for penance; prayer, fasting and giving alms.

Primarily, the season of lent reminds us  that it is  a time to spend in prayer. Prayer deepens our relationship with God, and brings us closer to Him. When we pray, we share our innermost being with God. Through prayer, we are transformed and renewed. Jesus prayed during His life on earth to be  in constant communion with His Father. Toward the end of His ministry He prayed, "Father, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."  We should pray because in a world filled with chaos, prayer is the antidote to anxiety. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". (Phil 4:6-7)  Prayer also alleviates our weariness. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28).

Secondly lent reminds us that it is a time to do penance. In the Christian tradition we read about  great saints who indulged in great penance like imposing physical punishments like lying on thorns, whipping, spending sleepless nights, wearing coarse cloth and so on. The spirit of these rigorous penance is deny some pleasures. So, penance means to do something which we find hard to do and give up  things we would like to have or do.  Giving up a meal,  giving up the king of food that we relish,  bearing  the hardships of life, accepting ones illness, etc are little ways of doing penance. Hence, everyone can find numerous ways of doing penance in his daily life. Penance can be considered as a two fold medicine: it prevents us from falling into sin and it helps us to recover  when we have fallen.
Thirdly, lent reminds us that it is a time of alms giving. It is our duty to share our fortunes with  the less fortunate. Often  when we think of  our fortunes, we limit ourselves to material things. Along with sharing the material things we have also  a responsibility to share  our talent, our intellectual wealth, our emotional wealth and our spiritual wealth. Hence, alms giving  means much more than helping someone in need. It also implies  giving a good advice to some one in need; visiting a  suffering patient; spending time with a lonely old person; sharing opportunities with others; encouraging  people  to give up  bad habits; helping some one in spiritual danger and so on.
Generations after generations have found in prayer, penance and alms giving the means to obtain  forgiveness of  sins and of coming  closer to God.  We too can find in them great  spiritual help. But Jesus warns us that  prayer, fasting and alms-giving will never  lead us to God unless  we perform them with a humble heart. In other words, pride  blocks our way to God. We have an example of this in the Jewish leaders about whom Jesus speaks in the Gospel of today: they spend long hours  in prayer, fasted more often than the Law commanded and gave alms generously. Since their  intention was attracting the attention of the people, and gaining respect these noble things led them away from God. Therefore, let us be humble that we  may find our way to God.

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  Is 43: 18-19,21-22, 24-25;  2 Cor 1:18-22;  Mark 2: 1-12 

Aesop's Fables are very famous for the messages they give. The fable "The Hare With Many Friends" speaks about friendship. A Hare was very popular with the other animals in the jungle who all claimed to be her friends. One day she heard the hounds approaching her and hoped to escape them by the aid of her Friends. So, she went to the horse, and asked him to

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lev 13: 1-2, 44-46  ;  1 Cor 10: 31 – 11: 1 ;  Mk 1: 40-45

The novel "Untouchable" written by Mulk Raj Anand gives a touching account of  the plight of the untouchables in India. The story is narrated by Bakha who is a hard working boy who never disobeys his father despite his repugnance for him and his lifestyle. Bakha endures one of the most humiliating and depressing days of his young life in this story. From sunrise on he is forced to deal with discrimination,

Bobby Jose: Vishudha Viidhiyiloode

It was published by Indiavision

Hope you will like it

Cycle B 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Job 7: 1-4, 6-7; I Cor 9:16-19, 22-23;  Mk 1:29-39


The 14th century speaks of catastrophes. Some of them man-made, such as the Hundred Years' War,  the Great Famine and the Black Death. All caused millions of deaths. Together they subjected the population of medieval Europe to tremendous strains, leading many people to challenge old institutions and doubt traditional values. These events altered the path of European