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"Who, Then, is a Faithful and Prudent Steward?"

Sunday Mass Readings

I heard an interview over the radio on BBC yesterday. Dr. William Halbert is one of those rare scientists who is also a convinced Christian. He is on the National Bioethics Committee and communicates with the Vatican regularly on issues involving medical research. Although not a Catholic, he has deep respect and appreciation for the Catholic Church’s rational perspective on moral matters. Dr. Halbert has been trying to reconcile two seemingly competing points of view. As a Christian, Dr. Halbert is convinced that the use for embryos for stem cell applications is a violation of human dignity. “We should not turn procreation into production,” he says. On the other hand, as a scientist, he in committed to creating stem cells that can be harvested through cells that are not embryonic. In fact, according to Dr. Halbert, the use of non embryonic stem cells is successful on rats and it won’t be too long before this scientific breakthrough is available for human application. Dr. Halbert is an accomplished scientist. But there is a one crucial difference between him and many others – he is a “Christian” scientist.

"Vanity of Vanities, All Things are Vanity"

Sunday Mass Readings

I have not been more torn in life as I have been these days. I am torn between my father who is recovering from a severe heart-attack in India and my ministry in the United States. Just the other night, I could not sleep any longer. I lay in my bed thinking… “Life,” I said, “life offers such hard choices.” I know I must leave home soon for Dayton to continue my ministry. I knew that this parting was going to be like none other. The next day, my niece who was preparing to leave home to begin her medical school snuck up next to me and said, “I so want to go, and yet, I so do not want to go.” She was crying bitterly. For a moment I was speechless. Her sentiments and mine were so similar. Only, she had captured it so well. At least, I was not alone. We found comfort in each other. Misery had found company.

"Standing Between the Gap"

Sunday Mass Readings

I heard an evangelical preacher once preach on the topic, “standing between the gap.” He was referring to a special group of people who feel called to stand between God, on the one hand, and his people on the other, and intercede. That’s all they do in their spiritual life. They do not pray for themselves or for their own needs. They “stand between the gap.” This is a special calling, a special ministry.

He Who Does Justice Will Live in the Presence of the Lord"

Sunday Mass Readings (I was hoping to be back in the US after my vacation in India. I am still in India because my father has had a serious heart attack. Please pray for him and my safe return on the 6th of August. ) In any case, let me begin this homily with a story from India. Consider the state of this immigrant. His land has been taken away to build a cheap car factory. The compensation he received could hardly sustain him and his family. He has since left his ancestral property and is now an immigrant in the already over populated city of Calcutta. He lives with his family in the pavement and depends on menial labor to make a living. He is an immigrant with no where to go. In the US too, there are many such sad stories of immigrants that have come to the fore particularly since the immigration issue has become a rather debated topic.

“The Paradox of the Cross"

Sunday Mass Readings

(Fr. Satish's homily podcast is unavailable till July 15, 2007 due to his vacation in India).
The famous singer Madonna has never failed to surprise or even shock her audience. On June 18th 2004, she offered a fabulous interview with back. Her last world tour was called, “Reinvention.” When asked what she was doing right now this is what Madonna said, ‘Just liberating myself from my ego.” She even renamed herself in the process of liberating herself. She went through all the names in the Bible and chose Esther, because Esther risked her life to save the Jewish people from annihilation. As she said, she was tired of drawing attention to herself by taking off clothes and doing out of the way acts. Now at 45, it was time to liberate herself from her own ego. She regrets turning the apple cart because at the end of it all, all people see in the turned apple cart. She said she did not offer any alternative so that at the end of it all she only succeeded in creating confusion. She wants to change all that. The solution is to liberate herself from her ego. This is the self-named ‘rebel’ who did rebellious things like taking off her clothes for the sake of doing it. Her family life with Guy Ritchie and her two children is so contrary to the rebel image she revelled in that at 45 it seems that Madonna is indeed getting ‘smarter.’ At least that is what she said.

“Do This in Memory of Me"

Sunday Mass Readings

Today’s homily is a catechesis on the Eucharist. I want to take three central concepts in the Eucharist and discuss it, so that we have a deeper understanding of our gathering each Sunday. The three important concepts are “epiclesis,” “transubstantiation,” and “anamnesis.”

“Entering Into the Life of God"

Sunday Mass Readings

For four consecutive weeks, hardcore fictional movies have broken all records at the box office: Spiderman III, Shrek III, and Pirates III. That completely fictional movies would be this successful is really fascinating. After all, we don’t find people spinning webs and flying around in real life. We don’t find ourselves magically transported in space and time in real life. And “up” is not “down” in real life. Why have these movies captured the imagination of the general public? Mystery – perhaps, that is the answer. From my perspective, these movies transport us from the real world into a mysterious world and it fascinates human imagination. In fact, as human beings, a sense of mystery is ingrained in each one of us. And that is why the outer space and the ocean bed intrigue us.

However, human capacity for the mysterious is not limited to the physical world. Karl Rahner, the famous theologian said that human beings are born with this sense of mystery and thus human beings constantly strive toward the transcendent. The highest point of this transcendence is God.

"Come Holy Spirit"

Pentecost Sunday Readings

I was at a graduation party yesterday. A man whom I have not met from Adams was trying to pick an argument with me. When the first question a person asks you in a condescending tone is, “Are you a Hindu priest or a Catholic priest?” you know its time for a fight. In the same disdainful tone he asked me how long my masses were. From my guts, from the core of my being, from my heart I hate, I detest, and I abhor that topic. He was hinting at a twenty minute mass. You would have been proud of me. Quite unlike me, I remained fairly calm and kept the humor alive in the conversation. A twenty-minute mass is like two-minute noodles – it is fake and its flat.

"Ascension: Our Destiny, Our Hope, Our Dignity"

Sunday Mass Readings

I had much trouble trying to find a starting point for my homily. so in the midst of my insane schedule I made time to watch, not one, but two movies hoping to get a starting point for my homily: Spiderman III and Shrek III. Pardon me if you liked them but I personally think they were a little too ‘hokey.’ However, in both these movies, one can see the redemption story unfold. In Spiderman, particularly, this is more evident. Peter Parker goes through the process of discovering his evil side. But he also rediscovers his “real” self. It is the choice he makes that heals and restores him. Spiderman does make the choice to go on “holy ground,” and rid himself of evil. It is the change in him that makes Harry, his arch enemy make the choice to turn his life around.

"My Peace I Give to You"

Sunday Mass Readings

BBC carried a news item last week on their website titled “Unholy row at clergy soccer game.” A friendship-building football match between Muslim and Christian clergy in Norway was called off after a row over the participation of women players. Muslim Imams had refused to play against women because it went against their beliefs about close physical contact with the opposite sex. But when the church decided to drop its women players, the priests' team captain walked out in protest. The game was meant to be an enjoyable end to a day-long conference in Oslo. Members of the two faiths had been discussing ways of encouraging greater inter-faith dialogue.

"A New Commandment"

Sunday Mass Readings

Last Monday, National Public Radio carried an amazing interview on its program, ‘Talk of the Nation.” Cheryl Ward-Kiser is an ordinary person like any of us; Up until that day when five men and a woman entered her home, raped her daughter and murdered her husband in her sight. While the crimes were being committed, Cheryl was herself pinned to the ground by a man who had her foot on her back and a gun to her head. Cheryl saw through the conviction of these criminals but that did not seem to bring her a closure.

"I have made you a light to the Gentiles"

Sunday Mass Readings

On my visit to India two summers back I had an experience I will never forget. When I landed at the Bombay airport, there was news that a security personnel had gone on a shooting rampage. He was of course overpowered and being questioned. My first question to my brother was, “Is he a Muslim?” Since the attack on the world trade centre it not uncommon to look at Muslims with suspicion. The moment I asked the question it had struck me how prejudiced my question was. Later than evening my brother’s family and I took a train to my hometown. When I used the toilet in the train I left my wallet in there. After an hour I realized that my wallet was missing. All my credit cards, my driving license, social security card and one thousand dollars in cash were in there. I ran to the toilet only to find that someone had taken it. I was frantic. Meanwhile, I realized that a man about fifty years old was looking intently at my desperation. He asked me what was wrong. I told him I had lost my wallet. He asked me a few questions and then he very kindly took the wallet out of his pocket and handed it to me. He had gone into the toilet after me and found the wallet but did not know whose it was. He was on the lookout for a frantic man so he could return to the owner. I checked the wallet. Not a thing was missing. I thanked him profusely. It was as if God was teaching me a lesson. This sincere and good man happened to be a Muslim.

"We Must Obey God Rather Than Men"

Sunday Mass Readings

Zimbabwe, the small country in the South of Africa is much in the news these days. The fortunes of Zimbabwe have for more than two decades been tied to President Robert Mugabe, the pro-independence campaigner who wrested control from a small British colonist community in the 1980’s and became the country's first native leader. Prior to his reign there had been much oppression of the natives by British settlers. For example, in 1930, the Land Apportionment Act restricted the native access to land, forcing many of them into wage labour. Native opposition to colonial rule grew between 1930 and 1960. Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980 and since then has been the ruled by Mugabe. While he began well, he changed the country’s Constitution in 1987 and became its executive president. They say, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Now, Mugabe presides over a nation whose economy is in tatters, where poverty and unemployment are endemic and political strife and repression commonplace. Zimbabwe has the world's highest annual rate of inflation - 1,700% - and only one person in five is in full-time work.

"Jesus is Alive! We 'are' the Evidence"

Easter Sunday Mass Readings

The cover of the April 8, 1966 issue of The Time did not have pictures of any personalities or world events. It had only three words printed on it: Is God Dead? As early as the Oct 22, 1965 issue, Time had printed an article on the “death-of-God theologians.” Among them was Thomas J.J Altizer, an associate professor of religion at Atlanta’s Emory University who wrote, “We must recognize that the death of God is a historical event: God has died in our time, in our history, in our existence.” What compounded the issue was the discovery in December 1945 of fifty-two Coptic extra Biblical texts at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. These documents were translated into English by 1970. These texts presented the life, death and resurrection of Jesus rather differently than the traditional gospels. The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Peter, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Gospel of Judas and other extra-biblical literature do not take the resurrection of Jesus for granted. Fictional accounts of Jesus’ life like the Da Vinci Code, and the more recent documentary on the tomb of Jesus by Hollywood director James Cameron only add fuel to the fire.

"By His Stripes We are Healed"

Good Friday Readings

In recent times, scientists have issued stark warnings about the perils of “global warming.” Human beings have been on the face of the earth for thousands of years. Has it taken us this long to realize that our actions and our lifestyle has consequences? If there is anything “global warming” is teaching us it is this, that we must take responsibility for our actions. To look at the melting ice in the artic region; to see rising sea levels causing untold hardships to the poor in low lying areas; to see the change in weather patterns across the world; to see the dramatic increase of droughts in Africa and Australia, flash floods in East and South Asia and hurricanes and tornadoes in the Americas is indeed a heart wrenching experience. We have seen this closely both in New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi. The most sobering experience for me has been to look at all these natural calamities and realize that in some way, I am responsible for this.

"The Suffering Servant of God"

Palm Sunday Readings

We know from the media that the political climate in the country is very charged right now. Republicans and Democrats have been trading charges as each other over a number of issues. A growing number of people are expressing disgust at the low standards of the political establishment. Some people say this is the lowest it has ever gotten. In the midst of all this, two high profile members from opposite political parties made significant announcements. John Edwards announced that his wife’s cancer had returned. A week later, Tony Snow, the White House spokesperson announced that his colon cancer had returned. God, goodness, heroism, evil, cancer, sickness, pain and death, do not differentiate a Democrat from a Republican, or for that matter an Indian from an American. We are all human beings and subject to the same human condition. Human beings have strived for centuries, to avoid the exigencies of the human condition. They have sought to avoid suffering and become immortal. However, we also know that enormous amount of wealth cannot prevent physical and emotional pain from tormenting us; the best anti-aging creams cannot stop us from aging; and even our foremost medical technology cannot stop us from ultimate death. No wonder, then, that when it comes to matters of life and death, like the Edwards and the Snows, we all turn to the same God.

On Human Dignity

Sunday Mass Readings

Consider the following news worthy events that hit the news papers this week:

First on a humour note: There is a new online dating website that promises to only let beautiful people obtain membership. The aptly named functions like a regular dating website with pictures and profiles, but members must maintain an 8 out of 10 rating to continue their membership. Well, I guess the rest of us should spend lonely, pathetic lives.

On a more serious note: This year, 2007, Britain is commemorating the 200th year of the abolition of British slavery. Over the centuries, 12 million people from Africa were captured, sold, bought and enslaved. While European countries have paid millions of dollars for the holocaust, for some reason countries are apprehensive about either apologising for slavery or talking about reparation. Finally, Tony Blair said sorry for the slave trade, months after his statement of "deep sorrow" was criticised by some for stopping short of a full apology. In America, this is a highly contentious issue.

"Coming to His Senses"

Sunday Mass Readings

If we had to trace our faith journey beginning with first Holy Communion till today, what would it look like? How has our faith matured over the years? If you get the chance, it would be a worthwhile exercise to list the areas where we have grown or perhaps even declined. Today’s readings encourage us to undertake such an exercise. More than any penance we may have undertaken this Lent, this might be the most important task.

Third Sunday of Lent

Today's Mass Readings

The power of desires! I am thinking of the last time Mega Millions was at $ 216 million. I imagined myself winning the amount. And if I did, I imagined paying off the parish debt, setting up a great Catholic school system for Dayton, and helping those who die of starvation. But I did not win. So here I am still poor and my genuine good desires dangling like a pie in the sky. But I have other desires. I wished my parents to be here for my graduation and this desire will be fulfilled. For all of us, desires are a part of our life. Some of these desires are fulfilled some of these are not. I met a couple last week who really desire a child and they don’t have one. I know somebody desired to overcome his addiction and have a family and now he is married and is expecting his first child. In particular, I want to recognize in our midst those catechumens and candidates who for a whole year had desired Christ union with the Church. This Easter God will bring their desire for fulfilment.

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!