Xavier Thelakkatt

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Reflection on Sunday Readings

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A Christmas Gift

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on December 15, 2015 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)

          Sometimes Dan chose to do things differently. The week before Christmas he would be off from work and would volunteer, along with his entire family, to cook and serve lunch at the Senior Dining Center. “That’s our Christmas gift to them” he would say. His family loved it and enjoyed every bit of it. There were many who brought wrapped up presents for the seniors, but Dan’s gift was the service itself. He always looked forward to it.

           The Gospel tells us of Mary the mother of Jesus who reached out to her cousin Elizabeth in her need and ministered to her for three months (Lk 1:39-56). That was Mary’s way of preparing for the birth of the Lord, her Christmas gift wrapped up in words of joy and praise of God. Her ministry brought great happiness and peace to herself as well, so much so she burst out into a song – the Magnificat, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:46-47). Service to the needy is a great Christmas gift and it would bring tremendous joy. There are people waiting to be reached out; there is no greater gift than a kind word, a gesture of encouragement or a helping hand in need. Would we care enough to reach out? Merry Christmas!

                        

Fourth Sunday of Advent Mi 5:1-4; Heb 10: 5-10; Lk 1:39-45

 

To Do List

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on December 8, 2015 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

              Shopping has never been my forte. As Christmas drew near I needed to get out there especially since I was going home on vacation immediately after Christmas. If I went to the mall unprepared I would forget a million things. So I got my homework done, preparing a detailed shopping list, so much so I was confident as I drove off. “A to-do list is always helpful when you don’t trust your memory” I said to myself. At the mall, after a frantic search, I realized that I had indeed forgotten the very thing, the list itself.

           A to-do list can never be a guarantee for anything. It would help much if someone reminded us of the most essential thing to do, just as John the Baptist did. The most important personal aspect of preparation for Christmas is not shopping, cooking or even gift-giving. Advent is about interior preparation to receive the Lord in our lives. That’s the principal groundwork. Our inner voice will continuously remind us of this most essential item, if only we earnestly asked that question: “What should I do?” (Lk 3:10). Then would come the list of gift wrapping, tree decorating, card mailing and a host of other things. Some of those items we can afford to forget, but not the personal preparation.

                  

Third Sunday of Advent Zep 3:14-18; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18

 

Essential Prep Work

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on December 2, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

             “I’m preparing for the day” he said rather seriously referring to the hernia surgery that was coming up the following week. It was to be his first experience of a surgery and he needed time to get ready personally. He was talking about the psychological and spiritual preparation. Then, he had to go through the actual physical prep the day of the event; the hospital staff would help him with that. “What do you mean by preparing?” I asked. It was hard for him to explain. We’re all used to making preparations. A great event requires a more serious preparation. According to the dictionary, ‘preparing’ is ‘putting things in their proper condition.’ Before an important event we put things in their proper places and appropriate order. Messy as we are, our lives often go muddled losing their design. It requires deliberate effort and considerable time for that necessary process of setting things right.

           The Gospel talks about a momentous event, calling for a serious preparation. The images of straightening the paths, filling the valleys and leveling the mountains are used by the prophet to refer to the seriousness of the spiritual preparation required (Lk 3:4-6). The coming of the Lord into our lives calls for a personal preparation which should be more spiritual and psychological than material. More time and greater energies are required for this essential readying.

                

Second Sunday of Advent Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6

 

The Coming Season

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on November 23, 2015 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (2)

 

           A friend from India was with me a couple of weeks back and he was amazed at the newspapers ads. “Shopping season has kicked in here much earlier than anywhere else” he commented. All businesses have their competitive ads out.  We’re being bombarded by these commercials. Christmas and other holidays are ahead and we are all looking forward to this shopping, card-writing, cooking and gift-giving season. Some are already anxious about the many things to be accomplished this time of year.

           In the Church calendar it is Advent or the season of “coming,” referring to the coming of Jesus. The second coming of Jesus at the end times is what we focus on. There would be many signs accompanying his coming (Lk 21:25-28). For the faithful people his coming will be a day of great hope and expectation. However, there’s also a risk that some will miss the signs and be surprised as though caught in a trap. According to the scriptures, many will be caught unawares. Advent offers a caution to all Christians urging them to be vigilant and watchful anticipating his coming and preparing for it. It is not a time for idling and indolence; nor is it a season to be carried away by “anxieties of daily life” (Lk 21:34). We eagerly await the joy of his coming.

                   

First Sunday of Advent Jer 33:14-16; 1Thess 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

 

Becoming King

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on November 17, 2015 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

                  At the high school homecoming event Tim was crowned king. His friends and family members were excited and overjoyed. When the festivities ended, someone asked him “How did it feel?” “Good, I suppose” he answered, “but I don’t think I want to do it again.” “Why?” “That’s a lot of work, dude” he said. That honor came as a result of hard work and it involved a lot of responsibilities and duties as well. He had not thought of it that way.

           The word “king” evokes in our minds images of pomp, power, honor and glory. In fact, the Sanskrit word “Rajah” which is the root for “Rex” (king) in Latin, translates into ‘steersman,’ someone who leads and guides. Kingship involves tremendous duties of leading others. The Buddhist ethics laid out ten sacred duties for all kings. When Jesus conceded before Pilate that he was indeed king, he was not speaking in terms of the pomp and glory but was referring to his sacred duty of ‘testifying to the truth’ (Jn 18:33-37). Becoming a king involves the duties of being a witness to the truth and a steersman for the people. As Christians we are all invited to that sacred duty of being kings and queens with him. “If we persevere we shall also reign with him” said the Apostle (2Tim 2:12).

                 

Solemnity of Christ the King Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33-37

 

Final Hope

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on November 12, 2015 at 3:55 AM Comments comments (1)

          “Why do we read this scary stuff anyway?” That was the question of a well- meaning Catholic. He was referring to the scripture reading about the great tribulation along with the darkening of the sun and falling of stars at the end times (Mk 13:24-32). “We know that the end of the world is a baloney” was his argument. He recounted the many predictions about the end of the world that were proved foolish. He apparently argued for a world without end. Most of us love that, a stable and endless world. However, the fact that a collective end in a cataclysmic fashion has not yet happened does not rule it out in future. Besides, we are all constantly reminded of a personal end to this world in which we live. There is no escape for that.

           Jesus talked about it and the early Christians lived anticipating it. A day or hour is coming when life as we know it will be transformed. For Christians it is indeed a day of deliverance from the present trials and struggles. It is a day of hope, and not of fear. Christians pray with joyful anticipation “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.” The one who lives with that Christian hope shall never be scared of an end, whether personal or collective.

                           

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time Dan 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mk 13:24-32

 

 

Being Ordinary

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on November 4, 2015 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (0)

          Linda had just finished reading a biography of Saint Joan of Arc. She was looking for a saint to adopt and emulate in view of her upcoming confirmation. The extraordinary courage and heroism that Joan manifested became too much for Linda and she said “I don’t think I can be like her at all.” A bit disappointed she had to look for another saint. “God does not require of us extraordinary things” said the Cure of Ars. He was an ordinary priest who performed the normal duties of a village pastor. Indeed some saints were unusually extraordinary, but most of them were common folks. “Our call is to do little things with great love” as Mother Teresa put it.

           The readings this weekend provide us with two ordinary people who did little things with extraordinary love. The widow of Zerephath gave away her only source of sustenance, a piece of baked bread, to the prophet. (1 Kings 17:10-16). Simple it may look, yet it was a heroic act. The widow in the temple put in two copper coins in the treasury, “her whole living” according to Jesus (Mk 12:38-44); another simple act of tremendous generosity. Jesus did not come looking for extraordinary people, but common folks like you and me. He is still looking for them. 

                        

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time 1 Kings 17:10-16; Heb 9.24-28; Mk 12:38-44

 

 

Back to the Saints

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on October 26, 2015 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

          “A comeback for the saints” the newspaper headline said. As a newcomer to the United States I was a bit puzzled by it and went ahead reading further. It took me some time to realize that “saints” was the name of the NFL team based in New Orleans. The article was referring to their victory in the previous night’s game. But I kept thinking a comeback for the saints was long overdue.

           Stars, heroes, models, icons and idols are all over us in our culture. We’re fascinated by them and we readily emulate them. However, sometimes we get frustrated and even misguided by their eccentricities, and we end up wondering how they got to be heroes. Who’s a real hero? That’s what the beatitudes are about. Jesus laid down the principles by which one becomes blessed, happy and holy (Mt 5:1-12). Many Christians took these words seriously and became great heroes. They found joy in living by these principles. And they realized their truth in everyday experience: despite their trials, moments of darkness and failures, they already tasted here below the deep joy of communion with God. They’re the true role models in every generation and in every nation. We need to learn about them to imitate them, and we shall never be disappointed. Let’s bring back the saints!

                                  

All Saints Rev 7:2-4, 9-14; 1Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12

 

A Blind Beauty

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on October 20, 2015 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

          Forty-year-old Stephanie was beautiful, but alcoholism had wrecked her life. The loss of her job and home led to an end to her marriage as well. Added to those was the loss of the custody of her two kids. Having hit rock bottom she sought help. A generous relative stepped in to pay for her expensive de-addiction treatment. He was glad to see her recover and eventually pick up a job in an effort to stand on her own legs. And then, one day he was shocked that she spent all her savings and incurred a deeper debt by paying for a high-priced breast implant surgery for herself. “What do you think she wants?” he asked in dismay.

          What do we really want? That’s a question Jesus asked Bartimeus, who had sensed his call (Mk 10:46-52). “Master, I want to see” he said. In spite of his blindness he knew what he wanted and articulated it in faith. Thus he gained his eyesight and acquired an insight into Jesus and his mission. Then he followed him on the way, committing his life to Jesus. In fact, many who claim to see are blind to what they really want and confused about their calling. Blinded and bewildered by the lures of the world they languish in confusion, unable to discern his call.

                                 

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time Jer 31:7-9; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52.

 

A Profound Misunderstanding

Posted by Xavier Thelakkatt on October 13, 2015 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

          Sheila refused to attend the modest parish church in her neighborhood, but drove thirty miles to a “glorious church” as she called it. She valued that church structure with some oriental motifs in it. “I love the wonderful liturgy with the choir, the organ, the colorful vestments and all the decorum; every Sunday it’s a heavenly experience” she said. Her fascination for this triumphant church and the glorious liturgy was short-lived when she became very ill and was unable to obtain a miracle from the Blessed Mother of Medjugorje. Unfortunately, she quit church in frustration.

           Some people develop a mistaken idea of the Church and of Jesus Christ. The Evangelist Mark talked about the profound misunderstanding of two closest disciples of Jesus (Mk 10: 35-40). The Zebedee sons were in the inner circle of Jesus’ friends, present at the transfiguration and the agony in the garden. They dreamed of the pomp, authority and glory in his kingdom, daring to ask for influential seats there, while Jesus spoke of being a suffering servant and carrying the rugged cross. In Jesus’ kingdom of heaven priority-values are different. “Whoever wishes to be great among you, will be your servant” he said (Mk 10:44). Today that Jesus continues to be misunderstood even by some who claim to be his closest friends.

                       

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Is 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45

 


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