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From the Desk of Fr. Bala

Corpus Christi: Eucharisitic People

Eucharistic people are believing, spirit-filled, contented, united and caring people.

Eucharistic people are people who believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Back in India, on Corpus Christi priests carried the Blessed Scarament through the streets accompanied by the worshipping throngs. God allowed Israelites to be hungry in the desert and then fed them with manna to show them that “Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8: 3). And the Supreme Word of God became flesh in Jesus, who is now present in the Eucharist.

Eucharistic people are spirit-filled people because the reception of the Eucharist is a communion with the very life of Jesus for, He said, “I myself am the living bread” (Jn. 6: 51) In the Eucharist Jesus nourishes our spirits not only for this life but for eternal life also. It is with Eucharist we become fully alive in our life of the spirit.

Eucharistic people are contented people. We believe the Lord God who is the source of contentment is present in the Eucharist and also those who receive HIm must be people of contentment also.

Eucharistic people are united people. Eucharist  united its recipients into one body of Christ. “We many though we are, are one body for we all partake of the one loaf” (1Cor 10: 17). Like the kneading together of many grains into one visible loaf and like the juice that flows from many grapes together into an invisible liquid, the body of Christ we all share makes us of one mind and one heart.

Eucharist peope are community people. The Eucharist creates unity and hence communion means community.

Eucharisitic people are caring people. To receive communion is to receive others into our world of concern. There is something wrong in our relationship with the Lord in the Eucharist if our communion does not bring us into a caring relationship with our neighbours, especially with the poor and needy.

Therefore, as we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christ, let us pray and try our best to be believing, spirit-filled, contented, united and caring people 

May 26, 2024

The Most Holy Trinity: A Symbol of Relationship

Experts in religion tell us that people always try to be like the God they worship. People who worship a warrior God tend to be warriors, people who worship a God of pleasure tend to be pleasure-seeking, people who worship a God of wrath tend to be angry people, etc. Like a god, like the worshipers. So, the more important question for us to ask today is: What does the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity tell us about the kind of God we worship and what does this say about the kind of people we should be? And here I have two points to share with you.

First, God does not exist in isolated individualism but in a community of relationship. In other words, God is not a loner or a recluse. This means that a Christian in search of Godliness (Mathew 5: 48) must shun every tendency to isolationism and individualism. The ideal Christian spirituality is not that of flight from the world like that of certain Buddhist monastic traditions where the quest of holiness means withdrawal to the Himalayas away from contact with other people and society.

Second, true love requires three partners St. Augustine’s concept of the Trinity is lyrical. The Father is the lover. The Son is the loved one. And the Holy Spirit is the love they send forth.

Each one of us becomes fully human only when we are in relationship with God and in relationship with others. Then we discover that the I-and-God principle preached and practiced by many leaves much to be desired. The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity challenges us to adopt rather an I-and -God-and-neighbor principle. I am a Christian insofar as I live in relationship of love with God and other people.

Whoever can no longer wonder or no longer marvel, is as good as dead (Einstein). May the grace of the Holy Trinity help us to banish all traces of selfishness in our lives and to live in love of God and of neighbor.

April 28, 2024

I am the Vine and You are the Branches.

Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me” John 15: 5.

We remain united to Jesus by three ways in particular: by gathering in his name, by listening to his word, and by sharing his Body and Blood.

Concerning gathering in his name, Jesus told his disciples, “Where two or three come together in my name, I am with them” Mathew 18:20. When we gather in Jesus’ name, we have his promise that he is there with us.

Concerning reading and explaining his word, Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever listens to you listens to me” Luke 10: 16. When we hear the Gospel read and explained, we have Jesus’ promises that we listen to him.

Finally, concerning eating and drinking his Body and Blood, Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever eats my flesh and drink my blood lives in me, and I live in him” John 6: 56. When we share the Lord’s Supper, we have Jesus’ promise that he is united with us.

These are the three special ways, by which we remain united to Jesus: by gathering in his name, by listening to his word, and by sharing his Body and Blood.

This leads us to an important point: if we want to find Jesus today, we will find him in his Church, or we won’t find him at all.

Sometimes we hear people say, “I can find Jesus and unite myself to him in my own way. I don’t need the church.

When we hear this, we want to cry out, “But there is no Jesus apart from the Church. There is no Jesus like the one you are talking about that Jesus who died on Calvary 2,000 year ago.”  

Lord, you are the vine and we are your branches. As the branches draw life from the vine, so we draw life from you. Lord, help us remember always that where your church is, there you are.

April 21, 2024

The Good Shepherd

One of the most favored images of Christ in the early church was that of the “Good Shepherd”. This image appears several times in the paintings found in the catacombs in Rome. Some of them in date back to the late second and early third centuries. There are many depictions of the Good Shepherd in our churches and homes. Sometimes He is a tender figure holding a young lamb close to his breast.

In this weekend’s gospel, three times Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd, and thus He tells us exactly who He is, because the most important thing the sheep need to know is who is taking care of them. Now we know who is taking care of us. Now, we know whose voice we have to listen to.

An old Chinese proverb tell the story of a fox that was captured by a tiger. The fox said, “You can’t eat me because gods have made me the leader of all the animals.” The tiger did not believe him, but the fox said, “Follow me and see if any animal challenges me.” The tiger agreed to this and followed directly behind the fox as the fox began his walk through the forest. To the tiger’s amazement, it turned out to be exactly as the fox had said. Not a single animal they encountered challenged the fox. Indeed, every animal they met fled in sheer panic. After several such encounters the tiger finally agreed that the fox was the leader of all the animals and let him go. This proverb teaches us that it is easy to remove obstacles that oppose us when we have a tiger behind us. Figuratively speaking, we do not have to be afraid when we have a Good Shepherd who is ready to lay down his life for us. “After He has brought out all his sheep, He walks ahead of them” (John 10:4).

Good shepherd Sunday is a good time pray for the good shepherds as well as the bad ones; and a good time to realize that the Good Shepherd still walks with us.

04/14/2024

WE ARE PENCILS IN THE HAND OF GOD

There was once a little boy who always wanted to meet Jesus. One day he was walking home from Sunday school. As he went through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a park bench. She looked lonely and hungry, so he sat down and offered part of a chocolate bar, he had been saving. She accepted it with a smile. He gave her more of the candy, and she shared a can of root beer with him. They sat together in a very friendly manner, eating and drinking and smiling at each other.

When the boy got up to leave, he reached over the woman and gave her a big hug. He walked home smiling. His mother noticed his big smile and happiness on his face and asked, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” “I had lunch with Jesus. And she has a great smile.” he said.

The old woman returned to the small apartment she shared with her sister. She, too, was smiling. Her sister asked her why she was so happy. “I just had lunch with Jesus. And he is a lot younger than I expected,” she said.

Too often we understand the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come to our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Let God use you as an instrument of His love.

Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta used to say, “We are pencils in the hands of a loving God. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used. We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

This was true for the two disciples returning from Emmaus who knew Jesus in the breaking of the bread. This was also true for the remaining disbelieving disciples who met Jesus in this weekend gospel.

03/31/2024

HE IS RISEN

Easter is a celebration not of the emptiness of the tomb but of the content of that tomb. Its main content is “we too will rise again as Jesus rose.” Over the magnificent mausoleum that holds the mortal remains of Queen Victoria and those of her royal husband are inscribed the words: “Here at last with thee, and with thee in Christ, I shall rise again.” The root of all good works is the hope of our resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was not simply for God’s glory. It was for the human race in need of it. The Lord is risen for you, for me and all of us.

Resurrection has created hope for our present and future existence. God is present now in all our material creation, which will one day be completely transformed and brought to its fulfilment. Faith in the resurrection has changed the way we live our ordinary life. what will be destroyed is of only passing value and what will be transformed is of surpassing value. This is the result of the resurrection.

Belief in the resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith; it is the Christian faith. St. John Chrysostom said: “We were once living in the shame of sin, but now we live in confidence and justice, we are now not only free but saints, not only saints but just men and women, not only just men and women but sons and daughters, not only sons and daughters but heirs, not only heirs but brothers and sisters of Christ, as co-heirs and members, not only his members but temples, not only temples but instruments of the Holy Spirit.” Yes. Easter, like all deeper things begins in mystery but like all hidden things ends in great courage. Let us keep our risen God always alive in our hearts and live a courageous life for him.  

May the Risen Lord Jesus Christ bless you and your family members always with His choicest blessings. Have a Blessed Easter.

February 18, 2024

TEMPTATION

There is a story about a bird that saw a cat carrying a can of worms. The worm made the bird’s mouth water, so he asked the cat how much each worm cost. The cat said that it was very cheap, only a feather per worm. So, the bird plucked one feather and gave it to the cat. A little later, he again craved for a worm, so plucked another feather and bought another worm. His cravings were not satisfied, so he kept on buying worms with his feathers. He never realized that he was losing his feathers, and when he saw the cat about to prey on him, he could not fly away to escape the cat anymore.

The point is clear that temptation is a fact of life. it is everywhere. Nobody is really strong in the face of temptation. We know that the first humans failed the test. Like the monkeys and flies, we are lured by the scent of the sweet. It whispers to us, “It’s ok, don’t worry!” “Try it just once. It’s not that bad anyway.” “Come on, everybody is doing it.” “Nobody will know.” Temptation is tasty because it is always sugar-coated with a promise of pleasure. but we must be careful and vigilant to check where it is leading us, lest we suffer what happened to the bird in our story.

St. Augustine said that we do not know ourselves except by trial or temptation. A person can have a self-image of being strong, self-controlled, brave, gentle, loving, but when a temptation comes along, they can find out something different.

Whenever we give temptation, it takes power from us, but when we resist a temptation, we take power from it. The devil wants to take power from us, to make us impotent, but when we resist him, we gain strength.

Our temptations teach us how weak we are, how foolish it is to rely on our strength. But there is someone we can rely upon. If we unite ourselves to Jesus, we can achieve true happiness by giving ourselves to God through him.

Think of these things during this lent and leave from here with the knowledge that while temptation is there, you can recognize it and turn it around as fuel for your faith-journey.

December 31, 2023

Home, Sweet Home

In a happy home, we experience joy and peace. But our happiness, peace and joy are not full and complete, and no wonder. For the best of homes can only be but an antechamber to heaven, where our happiness will be full. But we can make our homes vestibules to heaven. It is the duty of every family member. Our first and foremost duty is to love, and love means to care. A home where members love and care for one another is a happy home.

Jesus was born into a family. He grew in wisdom and grace before God and man in the family. He was obedient to his parents. He was their source of joy and their crown of bliss. As simple, humble people, Jesus, Mary and Joseph must have cherished mutual love, a feeling of oneness, respect of family life. Theirs was a holy family and the Church presents it as the most ideal family.

“The Christian family, which springs from marriage as reflection of the loving covenant uniting Christ with the Church, and as a participation in the covenant, will manifest to all human the Savior’s living presence in the world and genuine nature of the Church” Vatican II, the Church today

The church can be compared to a honey comb, wonderfully built up of many cells. If the wax-cells are broken, the honey they contain gets lost. All that is left there is just a handful of wax. If Christian families are broken, Christian communities too cannot exist.

In God’s marvelous plan, the human family is precious for a twofold reason: on it depends the bringing of children in the world and, to a good extent, the work of leading them to salvation. Dangers to family affect not only society but also the Church in different ways.

It is necessary to go back to the family as the sanctuary of life, the family is indeed sacred: it is the place in which the gift of life can be properly welcomed and protected against so many dangers. The family is the heart of the culture of life. John Paul II

May the Lord enable us to make our homes sweet homes.

December 25, 2023

Gift of Peace and Joy

Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king who loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived and wanted particularly to know about at heir hardships. Disguised and dressed in the cloths of a worker or a beggar, he used to visit the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited ever guessed, he was their ruler.

Once he visited a very poor man who lived in cellar. He ate the coarse food, the poor man ate and he spoke cheerful, kind words to him and left. Later when he visited the poor man again, he disclosed his identity saying, “I am your king!”. The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he did not. Instead, the poor man said, “You left you palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, deary place. You ate the coarse food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart. To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself.

This is the true meaning of Christmas. God could not give us a better and greater gift than himself, i.e., Jesus Christ. Jesus testifies that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him (John 14:10). The apostle Paul refers to Christ as the indescribable gift of God.

The birth of Jesus is a reminder that God has not forgotten us. It is a token of how much God loves us. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life” (John 3: 16). Thus, Christmas is essentially the greatest sacrifice of God. There is no sacrifice without love. The divine motive for the incarnation is the unfathomable love of God for us.

The ideal way to celebrate Christmas is to make room for the Savior in this world and in our lives. Angelus Silesius states, “Even if Christ is born a thousand times in Bethlehem, it is unless if He is not born in our hearts.” For this, we should let our whole world-view, our whole way of thinking, speaking and acting be permeated by the spirit of Jesus.

Christmas is not a time or season, but a state of mind. To have the real spirit of Christmas is to love, share and be at peace with God and others. When we open our hearts to the lonely, the frustrated and extend a helping hand to the poor and the sick, we will have the spirit of Christmas and experience the words of the angels who sang, “Peace to all of goodwill”.                        

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and continued Christ the Child blessing to you and all your family members.

There is One Among You

We hear people saying to us, “we must put God in our lives” but God is already here! Our business is to recognize him. “The is one among you, whom you do not recognize” (John 1: 26), said St. John the Baptist, pointing to then physical presence of Christ. The same Lord is now present in our minds in a mysterious way. it is his continued presence, through invisible, that gladdens our hearts, even amidst our shady sadness. The sweet mark of a Christian is not faith, not even love, butt joy, because we are all strings in the concert of his joy. Did not the angel announce at the birth of Jesus, “I bring you glad tidings of great joy”. Hence St. Paul asks us to “Rejoice always” (1 Thess 5: 16) and Isaiah shouts out, “I rejoice heartly in the Lord, the joy of my soul” (Is 61:10). Joy is never within our power in the same way that pleasure is. Only Christ can fill us with joy. Joy is the flag which is flown from the castle of the heart when is resident there.

Jesus, ever-present, enters into our hearts in the silence of prayer, provided we do not resist him by hiding behind layers of distraction, drowning his voice with noise from television sets and stereos. He comes to us through his words in the scriptures. He comes to us through the sacraments, which are those intense moments of grace and ‘peak’ experience of God. There are many other ways in which the Lord comes into our lives. His ways are always behind the scenes, but he moves all the scenes, he is behind.

But we need to “make straight the way of the Lord’ (Jn 1: 23), not that we must strew reses, roses all the way, but at least we must not throw thorns and thistles and so block his way.

Advent calls us to straighten up those rough and rugged spots in our lives so that Jesus can have easy entrance; and get in tune with all the mysterious ways of Christ so that when he comes, we can recognize him. We obtain salvation not through action, nor through meditation but through recognition.

December 10, 2023

Repent and Believe

There’s a Spanish tale of a father and son who had become estrange after years of bitter strife. The son finally ran away. Finding that his son was missing, the father became heartbroken and set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort, the father placed an ad in the city newspaper. The ad read:

Dear paco,

Meet me in front of the bell tower in the plaza at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.

That Saturday eight hundred pacos – men and boys – showed up in plaza, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

God, our Father, loves all of us unconditionally. The prophets are the adds that often called to return to this loving Father. Now, John the Baptist, the last of all the Old Testament prophets has come with the same message.

This prophet is a unique personality, his birth, life in the wilderness, his power packed message inviting to report and his heroic death for the cause of truth are unique and exemplary. Thus, the church makes an exception in celebrating his birthday.

It is interesting to note that in her liturgy, the Church only celebrates three birthdays; that of our Lord, our Blessed Mother and St. John the Baptist. Ordinarily the death is commemorated as feat of saints, their birth of heaven.

There is a special reason for celebrating the birth of St. John the Baptist for St. John was born without original sin on his soul. Shortly after the Annunciation, Mary went to visit he cousin Elizabeth. Scripture tells us that “the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Thus St. John, the Baptist along with Christ and Mary, was born without the stain of original sin on his soul. Hence the date of his birth is celebrated as a feast day in the church.

December 3, 2023

New Year

At the out-set, I wish you a Happy New Year. For today is the first Sunday of the Advent, the beginning of the ecclesiastical or Church year.

A great amount of attention is paid to the beginning of a new calendar year, but too little to the beginning of the church year. The change is noted, though, in the church’s liturgy. The green vestments of the ordinary season have been put away, and the purple ones of the penitential season of Advent are now being worn.

The church aims to create a new atmosphere, a new disposition in our souls. She creates a mood of expectancy, of waiting and of preparation. She gives the indication that something great is at hand. The very word “Advent” means coming. The coming that is so eagerly awaited is the coming of the Christ Child.

In advent the church lives again through a period of hope and expectation. She employs her liturgy to sharpen our desire to mold our thoughts and spiritually prepare us for the coming of Christ. It is one’s spiritual advantage to prepare well for Ais coming.

Advent is the countdown time for the celebration of Christmas. But Christmas is only pointer to constant coming of Christ in our lives. when we do Christmas shopping and buy gifts suited to each friend, Jesus comes in the respect we show to the uniqueness of each individual: when we send Christmas cards with the messages of love, Jesus comes through the warmth and affection we express to others; when we decorate our homes and lanes for Christmas, Jesus come through our desire to bring beauty into other people’s lives; when we prepare our Christmas family meal, Jesus comes through our readiness to make peace with all and form one human family. The Lord who is willing to come as light is willing to flood a room but we have to wait for him with our minds and hearts open and vigilant. God’s love is pressing round us on all sides like air.

Submitted Pieces and Reflections

Angels on Our Shoulders

In partnership with Faith in Action this group of volunteers offers a multitude of services for our community. Grocery Grabbers will pick up your grocery order from Henson's County Foods and deliver to your doorstep. Books With Wings will deliver books you check out from the Minong Area Library, http://www.minonglibrary.org.  Look at their brochure below and take advantage of their many services. If you would like to volunteer with the group the please contact Louis Columbus at 224-578-2537. Further information is on the brochure. 

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