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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. 

The Nativity of the Lord – Christmas

Scripture Readings

It was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was walking to the back of the church for the entrance procession for our school Mass. A kindergartner waived to me and said, “Hi, Jesus!” I waved back as I smiled. In my mind I said, “Girl, you are killing me!” Think about it, though. There was a time when a little child could wave and another human person and say, “Hi Jesus!” There was a time when Jesus walked as a human person and a blind man cried out, “Jesus, Son of David! Have pity on me!” There was a day, when the disciples looked at a human person and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”! There was also that fateful day, when a Roman Centurion looked up to a human person nailed to a cross, and exclaimed, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Mt 27:54). Christmas is the day on which humans look at a baby lying in a manger in a stable and said, “Hi, Jesus!” 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” These were Elizabeth’s words to Mary. Two days before Christmas, are there better words to reflect upon? Mary’s role in the history of salvation can never be overestimated. Even though Joseph is not part of today’s gospel reading, I would like to bring him into the picture. In my three points, I would like to reflect on both of them.

Third Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

This week, I spent quite a few hours in the confessional. I celebrated he Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students of St. Helen School on Tuesday. On Thursday, I was at the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students at Immaculate Conception School. On the same evening, we also the Tri-Parish reconciliation service. In numerous instances, the sense of comfort and relief in the faces of the penitents is something that only I get to see. One penitent put it this way: “I just want to be this (makes a gesture connecting her heart and God above), to be OK.” Tears rolling down her cheeks, she longed to have God back in her life again. She left the confessional in total relief and peace. It’s also called joy!  

Second Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

In today’s gospel Luke provides us with some very descriptive historical details. This kind of historical detail is rare in the four gospels, because, in terms of literary genre, they are not historical books. The gospels are a unique genre, and it is meant to inspire faith. Since Luke does give us historical data, we must pay attention to it. Luke tells us who the Roman Emperor was (Tiberius Caesar), who the governor of Judea was (Pontus Pilate), who the regional leaders were (Herod, Phillip, and Lysanias), and who the high priest were (Annas and Caiaphas), when John the Baptist began his ministry. Surely, Luke was being intentional in giving these details. What do these details teach us? I would like to suggest three things:  

First Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

 A friend of mine was telling me her experience at the stores on Black Friday. A mother was standing at the checkout line. Her two little children were giving her a harrowing time. My friend, who was also in line, decided to help her out. She pointed towards the security camera and said to the kids, “Santa is watching you from there!” The kids’ eyes grew big and they stopped dead! The mother had no further trouble with them.

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Scripture Readings

With a contentious mid-term elections barely over,  I am not sure about our appetite for the Feast of Christ the King. Often, we completely de-politicize the gospel. However, think about it. Jesus was brought before the political establishment of the time, by the religious establishment of the time, to be judged, condemned, and finally crucified. Jesus’ condemnation and death as much a political event as it was a religious event. On the other hand, perhaps the feast is a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the political contentions. The Feast of Christ the King tells us that the cross was hardly was the end of the story. The feast of Christ the Kings celebrates the reality that the cross became Jesus’ throne, that strength lies in humility, and that power lies in love. 

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

We have been hit by devastating hurricanes and wild fires this year. Especially, when it comes to hurricanes, people are advised to evacuate. I always wonder why some people do not heed the warnings. I understand that some people do not evacuate for compelling reasons - poverty, health issues, family compulsion, pets. But there are those who could and simply will not. And as they were warned, things end tragically for many of them. As we approach the end of the liturgical year, we are reminded that life itself comes with ample caution. We are all invited to live well. We are invited to strive to be happy. We are all invited to make life meaningful. However, the gospel cautions us - all things will come to an end. The Gospel cautions us that life is unpredictable. As with hurricanes and wild fires, there are those who heed the warning and those that do not.  

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There are two stories in today’s reading and they both involve poor widows. In the first story, Elijah, as he flees from his murderous enemies, seeks refuge with a poor widow. The story tells us that she and her son had only and handful of flour and a little oil left. They were desperately poor. The second story tells us about Jesus’ admiration of a poor widow who “from her poverty” (Mk 12:44), put in two small coins into the treasury. The two coins were all she had. These two thought-provoking stories.