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The Resurrection of the Lord

Scripture Readings

Pardon me, for my Easter homily is going to begin with Good Friday. After all, if there was no Good Friday, there would be no Easter Sunday. A parishioner was grappling with faith questions. She said, “Why did Jesus have to die? I understand that the Old Testament teaches us that the blood of animals was offered as sin offering. Could not God have saved us without the shedding of the further blood? Is our God a vengeful God who cannot be placated without an atoning sacrifice?

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Scripture Readings

Since I have been back from India after visiting my father who was seriously ill, numerous people have asked me about my trip. As I told them my story, many people shared their similar experiences. They talked about the time their parents were ill or about the time they took care of their parents. Some of them even cried about the time they lost their father or mother. In the strangest way, my story became theirs and their story became mine. It is almost as if by telling each other our stories, we were finding comfort, hope, and peace. 

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings

Most of you know that I rushed home to India last week to see my father. This is the the third time in five months that I have travelled nine thousand miles. Behind my frequent visits is a fear - the fear that this might be the last time I get to see my father. It is a crippling fear. It is not that I do not believe in eternity or that I lack hope in the face of death. My fear has got to do with the utter grief that death bring brings. My fear has got to do with the physical absence of the person I love. In so many ways, death changes things permanently. 

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings

I visited the Montgomery County Jail a few years back to hear a confession. When somebody makes a life-changing confession, I often remind them that the person who came into the confession is not the person who was going out. In other words, a person comes into the confessional a sinner but leaves a saint. But I could not say that to this man, because he was not going out anywhere. In spite of his confession he would still be in jail. In fact, I would be the one who would be going out. As I left the doors of the jail, I had that weird sense that even though this man was incarcerated, that at this moment he was more liberated than I was. Talk about irony, talk about light and darkness, talk about sin an holiness, talk about blindness and being able to see… it was truly weird.

Third Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings 

(My homily today i a little different. It is an exercise in imaginative prayer. I have tried to enter into the mind of the Samaritan woman and narrate her experience first person). 

You know what the worse thing is? They treat you like a piece of furniture - the cheap ones. The expensive ones… they got handled better than I did. I married five of them. Not one of them did it for love. I gave it my all. I cooked, I cleaned, I served, but was never loved. I even drew water from the well by myself. Chivalry is extinct! Neither was there any gratitude or appreciation. The man I live with now is no better. I was hoping that sixth time was the charm. I am the kind of girl whose dreams never come true. You think I would learn. 

Second Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings

Some Catholics are facing a huge conundrum this Lent. St Patricks day falls on a Friday. “How can we not eat bangers and mash?” “Can I have green beer, even if I have given beer for Lent? “OMG! What are we going to do?” Someone sent me an e-mail asking if the archbishop was going to give a general dispensation this year. What do I say? I could say, “Jesus did not transform stones into bread in the desert!” Generally my answer has been, “Its up to you. What does your Lenten abstinence mean for you? What are you trying to accomplish through your Lenten abstinence?” 

First Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings 

Each year, we keep aside fourty days out of 352, for fasting, abstinence, penance, and prayer. If we really think about it, it seems strange that an entire people would put themselves through artificial hardships. The rest of the year, we try to make life easier. The rest of the year we strive to avoid hardships, inconveniences and pain. And yet, for fourty days, we freely and willfully submit ourselves to the Lenten penances. Why? Why are we putting ourselves through these hardships? Merely because of tradition? Or is it guilt? Is there a deeper meaning to our personal Lenten penances? 

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

We continue with our reflection of the Sermon on the Mount in today’s gospel reading. Jesus has been contrasting the Old Testament Laws with his New Laws. He said, “You have heard that it was said of old… but I say to you….” In the same way, Jesus now contrasts paganism and Christian discipleship. We heard Jesus say last week, “And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?” On the contrary, Jesus asked his disciples to love enemies and pray for those who persecute. And then, when he teaches them how to pray, he asks them not to babble like the pagans. In today’s reading he says, “So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.’ (Mt 6:33). 

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The text book that I used to teach Religion 101 at the University of Dayton had a Chapter in it entitled, “Breaking the Cycle.” The author, Dr. Dennis Doyle, cites an example of how his eight year old and his six year old got into it one day while playing basketball. The eight year old made his shot, and then, just for fun tossed up a quick practice shot, which he did not make. The six-year old did not see the first shot but saw the practice shot that his brother did not make. The argument led to the older brother hitting the younger one with the ball. The younger one ran into the house screaming. Dr. Doyle was aware of the sibling rivalry that existed between the two. After much talking and conversations and after much going back the forth, aware that he was not making much progress, he finally asked his children this question, “… And who is going to break the cycle?” 

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I was reminded of a parable as I reflected on read this weekend’s readings. There was a little boy who had a nasty habit. He would catch butterflies and hold them in his little fist. He would then go about the village posing a question to people, which they could never get right. Extending his fist toward them he would ask if the butterfly was  dead or alive. If someone said that the butterfly was alive, he would let the butterfly go free; but if someone said that it was alive, he would crush it in his fist and prove them wrong. One day, a wise man visited the village. The boy approached the wise man as if to claim another victim through his nasty game. The boy stretched out his hand toward the old man and said, "Sir, if you are as wise as everyone believes you to be, please tell me whether the butterfly in my hand is dead or alive.” The wise man was unperturbed. He looked calmly into the boy's eyes. “Son,” he said, “the choice is in your hands.” 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Perhaps you have heard about Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, “Silence.” The movie has been in the making since Scorsese first read the book in 1966.  Its the story of two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver), who leave Portugal for Japan, to find a third priest (Liam Neeson) who has gone missing while working as a missionary. The third priest is believed to have committed apostasy by stepping on an image of Jesus Christ after being tormented by the Japanese. The role of one of the two priests is played by Andrew Garfield. To play his part, Garfield actually made the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. Originally, he did not make the Exercises in self-interest.  He did it to get over his own “not-enoughness” - the feeling of not being good enough. But what happened was totally unexpected. In an interview he gave to Brendan Busse, he said, “God! That was the most remarkable thing—falling in love, and how easy it was to fall in love with Jesus.” 

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

It has been a stressful and tense week for America. Immaterial of whether you are a supporter of President Trump or not, these are not easy times. I had the privilege of having some distance from all the tension. But as soon as I entered the country, every conversation I have had, somehow, leads to the happenings in the nation. Whether it was the march last week or the march this week, whether it is immigration or refugee resettlement, people have taken on to social media to express their hopes and their anguish. One of the question I asked myself was, “In times like this, what is it that I rely on?” When fragility strikes, what do I fall back on? After all, politics cannot give us salvation and does not promise us eternity. We need something deeper. I turned to scripture for answers. No matter which side we are on, this Sunday’s readings offer us some direction. 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I find it truly interesting that the very scripture passage that was read for Christmas is today’s first reading as well. Isaiah says:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; 

upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. 

You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, 

as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, 

as people make merry when dividing spoils.” 

Yet, it is not all that strange this very scripture passage is used again. If you noticed, the gospel reading introduces us to the beginning of Jesus ministry. The light that Isaiah is referring to, is Jesus. 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Last Sunday, on the Feast of Epiphany, I reflected with you on the star that led the magi. I remember saying that whereas the star was an external sign, the magi were also following a star within them - their conviction that their destiny lay in Christ. I also remember asking the question, “What is your star?” “Where is your star leading you?” “Who lies at the end of your star?” As we enter the Ordinary Time in our liturgical calendar, I would like to follow up my Epiphany homily with a further reflection on the questions. 

The Epiphany of the Lord

Scripture Readings

A couple of weeks back I preached a homily titled, “Turning the Ahaz in Us into Jospeh” in which I drew a contrast between KIng Ahaz and Joseph. I had said that whereas Ahaz could not get himself to trust God unconditionally, Joseph showed incredible capacity for fidelity and trust in God. Today, I want to contrast King Herod and the Magi. 

There are many points on which Herod and the wise men can be contrasted. First, the Magi were on a search. “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” they asked. In contrast, the birth of Jesus went completely unnoticed by Herod. Neither did he hear the angles nor did he see the star. Second, the scriptures tell us that Herod was “greatly troubled” when he heard that a star had appeared announcing the birth of Jesus. He became afraid. His fear was so intense that it made him act irrationally. Many innocent children were killed in the process. In contrast, the gospel reading tells us that the magi were “overjoyed at seeing the star” and the “child with his mother.”  Third, the magi did the child homage and offered him gifts. Herod on the other hand, sought to destroy the child.

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Scripture Readings

I must admit, Advent 2016 was a challenging Advent. Changes in the staff at both parishes, the literal doubling of my official responsibilities, my travel to India to visit my ailing father, the many funerals during Advent, all contributed to a rather restless Advent. You may not believe this, but, I eagerly looked forward to my 14 hour non-stop flight to get some alone and quiet time. I am not saying that advent and Christmas were not meaningful. I am simply saying that my soul was craving for something deeper. 

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Scripture Readings

Perhaps many of you know that recently I had a make a trip home to visit my ailing father. Altogether, I was home but for a week. It all ended well with my father showing extraordinary recovery within a matter of days. Most of you have since said to me that it was my presence that did it for him. Actually, my brother had come first. He saw my father home through his first hospitalization. By the time he was hospitalized the second time, I had decided to visit him. While I was there, I discovered that people in the neighborhood knew that I was coming. “Our son is coming!” they had told every visitor.  It was as if with my coming everything would miraculously be fine again. That is exactly how it played out. My father showed an almost miraculous recovery. While I cannot but acknowledge the work of the medical community, and while I cannot but be grateful to my God, I cannot deny that my brother and my presence made a big the difference. Presence is everything!

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

We are a week away from Christmas and today’s scripture readings get as close to the events of Christmas. There is something special about the stories in these readings. As we read them, we realize that ordinary people were integral to the main plot. Somehow, their stories of these people converge with the story of the birth of Jesus. There are characters in these stories who are models for us and those that we do not want to imitate. I would like to approach today’s scriptures through the characters in the story of Jesus. 

Third Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

Perhaps because I left the US before Thanksgiving and returned at the peak of what the corporate America calls the “holiday season,” the contrast between Advent and pre-Christmas frenzy hit me harder this year. When I landed at the Dayton airport, the very first song I heard over the speakers was, “Fa la la…” There was a rebellion within. I wanted to scream that is not time to fa la la yet! The demands of Advent are serious. It demands examination of conscience, repentance and conversion. However, the mood outside the church does not help us pursue the demands of Advent. It is easy for us to skip the demands of Advent altogether. 

Second Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

Whether we formally call it a “vision” or not, each one of us has a vision. For example, when a couple gets married, they imagine life to go a certain way. They have a vision. When a child is born, parents imagine how they would like the child to grow up. They have a vision. When someone gets a new job, they imagine how the new role brings meaning and purpose to life. In very simple terms, a vision is how we think something should go long-term, and the effort we put to make it happen. Vision allows us to have a plan and then put our effort into making the vision a reality. Without a vision, we have nothing to look forward to.