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Pentecost Sunday - Mass during the Day  

Scripture Readings

Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. The feast of the Pentecost as a ritual originated after the Exodus of the Hebrew people from slavery to freedom. Yet, this feast takes us to Babel in the book of Genesis. Genesis 11: 1 tells us, “The whole world had the same language and the same words.” The people then built the tower of Babel, saying, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves….” They were afraid that they would be scattered all over the earth and get lost. It seems strange that God responded by confusing the people with many languages. However, this is scripture’s way of saying that humanity had begun to trust less and less in God and more and more in designing their own destiny. In other words, the confusion at Babel is a consequence of human arrogance and pride.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Scripture Readings

This year has been the year of tornadoes, inexplicable weather patterns, flooding and numerous weather-related death and destruction. When we see natural devastation like we have seen recently in our own city of Dayton, OH, it can be very difficult to sit before God without feeling frustrated and terribly sad. It is often very hard to reconcile the greatness of God with the utter misery and pain caused by natural disasters. “Why could God not have stopped all the destruction we have seen this year?” Sometimes it is not uncommon for people to get angry with God. In our minds, only God is more powerful than the powers of nature. It does not make sense that a compassionate, loving and good God does not positively intervene to stop utter devastation.

The Ascension of the Lord

Scripture Readings

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. The danger of a feast like the feast of the Ascension is precisely this – that with Christ’s ascension into heaven we may think of God being up there, unconnected to the world here below. After all, didn’t the disciples stand there looking into the sky? (Act 1:11) So I began writing this homily by asking myself the question. ‘What significance does the ascension of Jesus hold for me’? ‘What relevance can Ascension have for us today’?

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Reading

I came to a very important realization when my father passed away. No matter how much you prepare yourself for someone’s death, you can never prepare enough. Grief has a way of disabling all your defenses. It takes months and sometimes years to come to terms with the absence of those you love. Perhaps, this is the best way for me to describe the sentiments behind today’s gospel reading. Jesus was no more physically among the disciples and the early church. After his resurrection, he appeared a few times to his disciples, but now even that had ceased. The early Christian community not only yearned for Christ’s presence, but struggled to find new ways to experience his presence.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

Dayton is caught in the middle of a contentious debate this week. The debate is about the response to the rally that hate group KKK is going to hold on May 25th. While some suggest that the best response is not to respond, others think it should be actively protested, and yet other groups are planning to hold parallel events away from the location of the rally. Immaterial of your favored response, I am left wondering how we find ourselves in this place in the 21stCentury? Within the last few months, Jews in synagogues, Christians in churches, and Muslims in mosques have all been victims of violence and hate. Two thousand years after, “I give you a new commandment: love one another,” how is it that hate continues to take centerstage? 

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

In the biblical times, the analogy of the sheep and shepherd was a meaningful way of describing God’s relationship with people. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cared about his flock, went in search of the one stray sheep, and even gave up his life for his flock. In this case, the analogy works. However, this analogy has limitations when we apply it to the relationship between those in authority and those over whom authority is exercised. The problem is that sheep are rather naïve, unassuming, and unintelligent creatures. They cannot think for themselves, they easily go astray, they are totally dependent upon others, and they easily give into a herd mentality. But people are not like sheep. Nor can they be treated as sheep. People need to be treated as people. When people are treated as sheep, the analogy of the sheep and shepherd becomes very awkward.  

Third Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

At a critical juncture in the life of Jesus, the apostles, and indeed the nascent Church, Jesus asks Peter the question: “Do you love me?” Why this question? Why not, “Do you remember everything I said and taught?” Or “Are you up to this?”  If I was in Jesus’ place, the question would be, “You just denied me three times! Can I still trust you?” Why was the question, “Do you love me?” 

Second Sunday of Easter - Sunday of Divine Mercy

Scripture Readings

This homily was originally written for Divine Mercy Sunday, 2018. 

The Second Sunday of Easter is also celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. It was in 2000, at the canonization of Sr. Faustina Kowalska, that Pope John Paul II declared that the Second Sunday of Easter would henceforth be commemorated as Mercy Sunday. Since then, the Divine Mercy devotion along with the iconic Divine Mercy image of Jesus has spread throughout the world. Many, many Catholics set aside the 3 PM hour to pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy.  

In my three points, I would like to reflect on Divine Mercy, the devotion and its practice. 

Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of the Lord

Scripture Readings

On January 11, this year, I lost my beloved father. Two days later, he was buried in the local parish cemetery. In Kerala, one of the 29 States in India and also a very Christian State, common Catholic cemeteries are rare.  This is because from ancient times, parishes have maintained their own private cemeteries for their parishioners. It has huge implications for the survivors. This means that families do not always have permanent individual graves. My family will have my father’s grave only for three years. After this time, his remains will be ritually moved to a common resting place. In other words, my family and I will not have a grave to remember my father. We must find another way! We know the way! We will be compelled to look for my father elsewhere – in heaven. We better believe in the resurrection! After all, didn’t something similar happen at the first resurrection? On that first Easter Sunday, there was nothing in the grave. In the final analysis, there was no grave; only a stone that was removed. Even since that first resurrection, no grave is a permanent grave. Since that first resurrection, we must all look for our loved ones elsewhere. Our destiny is not the grave. Our destiny is a resurrected life with the risen Lord in Heaven. 

Today is Easter Sunday, the Lord’s day of Resurrection. Let me offer three practical implications of Jesus’ resurrection.

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Scripture Readings

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

something to be grasped.

“Rather, he emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

coming in human likeness;

and found human in appearance,

he humbled himself,

becoming obedient to the point of death,

even death on a cross.”

(Philippians 2:6-8) 

Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year C Readings

Scripture Readings

There is a trend these days, which on the periphery seems pious and holy, but if we look deeper, is concerning. There are people who come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation not because they have committed serious sins, but because they have made the sacrament a weekly or monthly devotion. Some priests encourage this practice as well. The claim is that you have to be in a ‘state of grace’ to receive Holy Communion. Being in a state of grace is totally consistent with Catholic teaching. However, the boundaries of the state of grace have been changed. It almost demands perfection. This trend is a resurgence of an old heresy called Pelagianism. Pope Francis addressed its danger in his apostolic exhortation Rejoice and be Glad. The danger is that we believe that grace, rather than being a gift of God, is earned by us by our own merit and actions. If there is anything that the parable of the prodigal son teaches us it is this: even when we are sorry for our sins, God’s forgiveness is not our right. In every sense of the word, God’s mercy is a pure gift.

Third Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings

Twice within the span of three verses in Luke chapter 13, Jesus makes this stunning statement: “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” (Lk 13: 3, 5). Coming from Luke, the evangelist who emphasizes the compassionate Jesus, this stern, John-the-Baptist-like warning does not fail to catch our attention. On this the third Sunday of Lent as we enter the middle of Lent, we are being reminded by Jesus that, integral to Lent, is deep rooted transformation. In other words, if at the end of Lent we remain the same persons that we were at the beginning of Lent, then perhaps we have missed an opportunity.  Here are my three points for today: 

Second Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings

There was an unintended effect of my dad’s passing away. I did not plan it. I did not anticipate it. I did not expect it. This simply happened! My dad’s death took my faith in God to a new height. I believe in God now more than ever before. I believe in God in a way that I have not believed before. In fact, not just as a priest but as an ordinary believer, this is a new phase in my faith life. While, the term “transfigured” may not be the appropriate term, I believe that my faith has undergone a transfiguration like transformation. It’s hard to explain, but faith has taken on a new meaning. Can you recall an experience where your life turned over a new phase as if in a miraculous way? 

The transfiguration of Jesus was a unique event in his life and in the life of Peter, James and John. No other event comes close to the intensity and the awesomeness of the transfiguration. The only event that comes a little close is the baptism of Jesus. What is the meaning of the transfiguration of Jesus? What significance did it have for Peter, James, and John? What does the transfiguration of Jesus mean for us? Here are my three points for today.

First Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings

These days, I have seen a quip posted numerous times on social media, in print media, and even on church sign boards. It says, “Be yourself. Everybody else is taken.” It is a thought-provoking quip. On this the first Sunday of Lent, I want to focus on something similar - our personhood in relation to Jesus Christ. I have titled my homily, “Become the Best Version of Yourself!” My rationale for this title comes from today’s scripture readings. Jesus, the Son of God, entered into the desert to restore humanity to its original image. Jesus came to transform us into the best version of ourselves. What could this mean? 

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

For the last two weeks, we have been hearing from Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain. As Luke reaches the end he makes some concluding statements. I would like reflect on just one of them. Luke says, “No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher” (Lk 6:40). Who the teacher? Jesus! Who must the disciple become like? The teacher! Who is the teacher? Jesus! 

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I am going to read the gospel I just read for you in a different format. I am going to read it in the form of 12 demands.

  • Love your enemies.
  • Do good to those who hate you.
  • Bless those who curse you.
  • Pray for those who mistreat you.
  • Give to everyone who asks.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
  • Lend without expecting anything back.
  • Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.
  • Stop judging.
  • Stop condemning.
  • Forgive and you will be forgiven.
  • Give and gifts will be given back to you. 

In light of these teachings, let me pose a few questions to you. Think about a time when you found it genuinely difficult to follow any one of these teachings? Why was it difficult? Were you afraid of what it would cost you or what you stand to lose? What would you have gained? What did you finally do?

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I was at a parish meeting this week, and as usual, the meeting began by reading the Sunday Gospel reading. After it was read, for about a minute, there was silence. It is as if we were all tongue-tied. It took a few quite moments to break the silence, but there still was this sense that we simply do not know what to do with Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. Unlike Matthew’s version, Luke creates a stark line of separation between the blessedness of the poor and the woe of the rich. How shall we understand Luke’s Beatitudes? 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

This year is the 25thyear of my ordination. As I look back, I have no idea where 25 years have gone. It all is a haze. Yet, I have very vivid memories of every one of these years. It has been a great life. It has been a wonderful life. It has been a daunting and challenging life project. It has demanded everything in me. Yet, it has been an awe-filled life. If I get another chance at life, I would do it all over again. Simply put, I am in awe! 

For a Christian, one of the dominant paradigms from which to reflect on life is, “the call.” From our conception until we die, in our origin and pilgrimage toward our destiny, we believe we are called. In fact, all of life is a response to, an accomplishment of, the realization of a call.

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Scripture Readings

Instead of a typical homily, today, I felt led to pray for families. Over the year, I get numerous requests from parishioners to pray for various needs of families. Today, it is my intention to bring these needs before the entire community, so that together we can raise these needs up to God in prayer.