There will be no public liturgical services in our Churches and Chapels. Likewise, the Retreats, Novenas, Conventions and other Spiritual Exercises in our Churches, Community Halls or such places should be cancelled.
May it do no more harm …
Our Father, we trustingly pray to you, asking
that the Wuhan coronavirus may do no more harm,
that the epidemic may be swiftly gotten under control,
and that you restore the health of those affected
and peace to the places where the virus has arrived.
Welcome into your kingdom
the people who have died from this illness,
and comfort their families.
Sustain and protect the healthcare personnel who are fighting it,
and inspire and bless those working to control it.
Lord Jesus, doctor of our bodies and souls,
we feel impotent
in the face of this international health emergency,
but we trust in You.
Give us peace and health.
Mother Mary, protect us and continue to take care of us,
and lead us through your love to your Son, Jesus.
The Baptism of the Lord
After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22 (Year C)
Today’s Feast marks the conclusion of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. It’s a feast of transition from Jesus’ hidden life to that of His public ministry. It also echoes the theme of the Epiphany in that the Baptism of the Lord is another manifestation announcing Jesus’ divinity to all of His first followers and to the disciples of John the Baptist.
First of all, it needs to be pointed out that Jesus did not need the baptism of John. John was baptizing as a call to and sign of interior repentance. Jesus had no need to repent. But, nonetheless, He comes to John. John resists at first but Jesus insists. Why did He receive baptism?
First, by accepting the baptism of John, Jesus affirms all that John has said and done and affirms his sacred role of preparing the way for Jesus and for a new era of grace. Therefore, the Baptism of Jesus acts as a bridge between the Old Testament prophets (of which John was the last) and the New Testament era of grace and truth.
Second, it has been said that when Jesus entered the waters of baptism, He was not baptized by the waters, rather, His Baptism was one in which all the created waters of this world were, in a sense, “baptized” by Him. By entering into the waters, Jesus sanctified water and poured forth His grace making all water the future source of salvation.
Third, the Baptism of Jesus was an epiphany. It was a moment of manifestation. As He emerged from the waters, “Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from Heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” This manifestation of the sonship and divinity of Jesus took place in a physical, audible and visible form so that all present would know, without question, that Jesus was the Son of the Father. Thus, His baptism is a way in which the Father introduced His Son and His Son’s mission to the world.
As we prepare to begin Ordinary Time, reflect, today, upon these words of the Father at the Baptism of Jesus. Hear the Father speaking to You about the divinity of His Son. Turn your eyes to Jesus and prepare yourself to follow Him and to heed every word He speaks. He was sent into this world to draw us to the Father, allow Him to fulfill that mission in your own life.
Lord, I believe that You are the Son of the Eternal Father and the Savior of the World. I believe that You have brought about a new era of grace and truth and that I am called to follow You wherever You lead. As we begin this liturgical season of Ordinary Time, may it be a time of extraordinary grace in which I daily heed Your voice. Jesus, I trust in You.
Introduction: On the one hand, salvation is God's doing, and we cannot earn His blessings. We are saved by His grace. On the other hand, we must cooperate with God’s grace because God cannot force his bounty upon us. That is why John the Baptist in today’s Gospel summons us to play our essential part by leading lives of repentance, conversion, and renewal, thus preparing the way for the Lord's second coming. We start this process by spiritually preparing for the annual celebration of Christmas, the Lord’s first coming, as we reform and renew our lives by repentance and works of charity.
Gospel exegesis: A prophet on fire with a fiery message: While only two Gospels mention the nativity, all four Gospels introduce Jesus with an account of John the Baptist's ministry (Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-22; John 1:6-9). Matthew puts slightly greater emphasis on John's words than on his action of baptizing. He records a direct quote from John’s preaching: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." There had been no prophet in Israel for four hundred years. But the people had no hesitation in accepting John as a prophet because he was like a burning torch summoning men to righteousness, a signpost to point men to God, and he had the authority of a man of God. He wore garments of coarse camel hair and a leather belt like the prophets that we read about in Zechariah 13:4 and 2 Kings 1:8. He ate what was available in the rocky desert -- wild honey and roasted grasshoppers – which was permissible according to Leviticus 11. The Jews expected Elijah to return prior to the coming of the Messiah (Mal 4:5). John's clothing of camel's hair and leather belt (2 Kings 1:8)) identified him as the fulfillment of that prophecy, and Jesus Himself affirmed John’s role when he said, "I tell you that Elijah has already come (Mt. 17:12)."
Call to repentance: John's message was not soothing. It cut into the very hearts of men. John denounced evil wherever he found it. He accused Herod of living a loose moral life (14:4), addressed the Scribes and the Pharisees as "brood of vipers" and summoned people to righteousness. His message was "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near" (v. 2), words which Jesus later used to begin his own preaching (4:17), and similar to those the disciples would proclaim (10:7). John justified his call to repentance by announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven was near and that the way to prepare for that day was to repent. Literally, the Greek word for repentance (teshuvá in Hebrew and metánoia) in Greek), means, "to change one's mind and heart," a change of direction or a U-turn. Repentance involves turning around – facing in a new direction -- with a change of heart and a new commitment. Repentance is a daily experience that renews our Baptism. “The repentant person comes before God saying, 'I can't do it myself, God. Kill me and give me new life. You buried me in Baptism. Bury me again today. Raise me to a new life.'" Repentance for us is not a one-time action but must take place daily, because preparing for the Lord is a perpetual task.
John’s baptism as the expression of repentance: John’s baptism by water was an external expression of repentance. What he insisted on was the internal expression, a repentance that bore real fruit: a turning from worldly values combined with generosity and love. As a sign of true repentance, John urged the tax collectors to "stop collecting more than what is prescribed," and told the soldiers to “stop extortion and false accusation and remain satisfied with your wages.” In short, John’s message was a call for radical conversion, a demand for self-denial, sacrifice and loving service to others. We may have to put an ax to the roots of the resentments and biases in our hearts. We may have to winnow out our greed and overindulgence, and we may have to burn the chaff of our impatience. Even though John’s preaching was characterized by scathing criticism, his call for reform was described in Luke’s Gospel as "the Good News" because the arrival of the Messiah would initiate a new reign of forgiveness, healing and salvation.
John’s conditions for belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven: The coming Kingdom was John’s main theme. While the Gentile convert, Mark, uses the words “Kingdom of God," Matthew follows the Jewish tradition of avoiding the use of God’s name by using the expression "Kingdom of Heaven.” The Kingdom of God is a God-centered, God-controlled life. John wanted people to experience such a life. Everyone who wants to experience this “reign of God" needs to make a radical change in his or her life. That is the call for repentance. We cannot come under the sovereign rule of God without a change of attitude, a change of heart and a change of lifestyle. John not only denounced men for what they had done, he summoned them to what they ought to do. That is why Matthew emphasized the new life of proper fruit-bearing more than the forgiveness of sins. Bearing good fruit is not just doing good things but also doing them for the right reason.
Life messages: 1) We need to prepare for Christ’s coming by allowing him to be reborn daily in our lives: Advent is the time for us to make this preparation by repenting of our sins, and renewing our lives through prayer, penance, and sharing our blessings with others. Let us remember the oft-repeated words of Alexander Pope: "What does it profit me if Jesus is reborn in thousands of cribs all over the world and not reborn in my heart?" He means that Jesus must be reborn in our heart, during this season of Advent, and every day of our lives, bringing us love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness and the spirit of humble service.
2) We need to accept John’s call for a change of life. John the Baptist, the stern and uncompromising preacher, challenges our superficial attempts at change, demanding that we take a deeper look. Obeying the commandments is a good start, but we must also examine our relationships with others. We must mend ruptures and soothe frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly, and treat employees justly. Start where you are, John says. Our domestic and social lives must be put in order. John's voice is sober and runs counter to the intoxicating voices around us today. He calls for rectitude and social consciousness. We must abandon our selfish thirst for consumption and, instead, be filled with the expectation of Jesus' coming. Therefore, following John's advice, let us celebrate the memory of this first advent, prepare for Jesus’ new advent in our lives, and wait for his second advent at the end of the world.
3) We need to wait prayerfully for the second advent of Jesus. John’s answer as to how the Jews should wait for the Messiah was that they should wait for the Lord with repentant hearts and reformed lives. We can start by praying from the heart. Let us remember that the Holy Mass is the most powerful of prayers because it transforms us into Eucharistic people, providing the living presence of Jesus in our hearts and his divine life in our souls. Conversion is through Jesus whom we encounter, mainly, through the Holy Scripture and the Sacraments. The Word and the Sacraments are the principal means God uses to give life to men's souls. Daily reconciliation with God, as we ask and receive His pardon for our daily sins and make our monthly sacramental confession, make us strong and enable us to receive more grace in the Eucharist. Let us read the Bible, pray the Rosary daily and fast once a week all year-round, rather than just during Advent and Lent. After all, we sin all year-round, so let us fast also all year-round by controlling our senses. We could take some time before Mass to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and we should practice forgiving those who offend us. Finally, let us share our love with others as selfless and humble service. "Do small things but with great love,” advise St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa). (Fr. Antony Kadavil)
What really happens after you die according to the Bible.
When our loved ones die, we mourn and wonder what’s next for the people we cared for so deeply. Are they watching over us? Can we communicate with them? Will we ever see them again?
Next to God, the dead are the only group of people who really know what happens when you die. Since we can’t hear directly from the dead, we often turn to explanations from scientists on what happens when we die.
Death, just like life is a process, scientists say. The first stage of the process is known as clinical death. It lasts from four to six minutes, beginning when a person stops breathing and the heart starts pumping blood. During this time, there may be enough oxygen in the brain that no permanent brain damage occurs. Other organs, like the kidneys and the eyes also remain alive throughout clinical death.
In the second stage of dying, known as biological death, the cells of the body begin to degenerate, and the body’s organs – including the brain – shut own. In this stage, doctors are sometimes able to stall it by inducing hypothermia – cooling the body to below its normal temperature. This method can stop the degeneration of cells and has been used to revive cardiac-arrest patients.
While these stages of death are well understood, what remains vague is what happens to a person once he or she is both clinically and biologically dead. To get some insight on what happens after we die, we can turn to the Bible which speaks directly on life after death.
The Bible says, “The living are conscious that they will die, but as far as the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Therefore, when we die, we cease to exist. The dead can’t act, think, or feel anything.
According to Scripture, we will return as dust. God explained what happens when we die when he spoke to the first man, Adam. Because Adam was disobedient, God said to him, “Dust you are and dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19). Before God created Adam “out of dust from the ground,” Adam did not exist (Genesis 2:17). Likewise, when Adam died, he returned to dust and ceased to exist. The same thing happens to those who die now. Speaking of both humans and animals, the Bible says, “They have all come from me by dust, and they are all returning to the dust” (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20).
For believers, the Bible tells us that after death believers, souls are taken to heaven, because their sins are forgiven by receiving Jesus Christ. For believers, death is to be a home away from the body and with the Lord. We also know from Scripture that death is not the end. The Bible often compares death to sleep. Psalm 13:3 says, “Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death.”
John 11:11-14 says, “After he had said this, he went to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’” A person who is fast asleep is unaware of what is happening around them. Likewise, the dead are not conscious of anything.
Jesus promised at the moment of our death, He will personally take us by the hand and escort us to our new home in heaven. This is not the job of the angels. He reserves the right for Himself the right to personally accompany us to heaven’s glory. The Bible tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would have I told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the place where I’m going” (John 14:1-4).
Death is nothing to fear. In fact, we Christians can look forward to it with anxious anticipation. In Philippians 1:21-23, Paul declared, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain, I am torn between the two: I desire to depart to be with Christ, which is better by far.”
Was it God’s original purpose for people to die? Not at all. God made man to live forever on earth. As we learned in Genesis, God placed the first human couple in a delightful paradise. He blessed them with perfect health. God wanted only good for them. Does any loving parent want his children to suffer the pain of old age and death? Of course not. The Bible says, “God created us with the desire to live forever ever, And He has opened the way for that desire to be fulfilled” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
God created us with desire to live forever, and He has opened the way for that desire to be fulfilled.
God’s Word also provides assurance of life after death. God promises that we will return through a resurrection of the dead. This is how mankind will receive the gift of eternal life. Even though are bodies are temporary, subject to decay and death, God has planned for us much more than just this limited existence.
By Lesli White
The Holy Ghost Church Minority Cell was inaugurated on 1st September 2019 to help students to enroll for Minority Scholarship from the government.
For details please visit: https://gokdom.kar.nic.in
Please click here to view the pictures of the event.
05 September 2019 Current Affairs: The International Day of Charity is observed on 5 September across the world. The day is observed to commemorate the death anniversary of Mother Teresa. The day aims to make people understand the importance of charity.
The day was created by the Hungarian Civil society initiative in 2011. In 2012, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) officially declared 5 September as the International Day of Charity.
Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa, was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, North Macedonia. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity in India. It helps the poor on the streets of Kolkata. The foundation manages homes for people who are dying of leprosy, TB and HIV/AIDS. Through the charity, Mother Teresa spent around 45 years in serving the poor, sick, orphaned and dying on the streets of Kolkata. She died at the age of 87 in 1997 in Kolkata.
Awards: In 1962 she was awarded Padma Shri and Ramon Magsaysay. In 1979 she was awarded Nobel Prize for Peace and in 1980 she received Bharat Ratna award. In 2016 she was canonizedby Pope Francis.
Rev. Fr. Osmond D'Souza served as the Parish Priest of Holy Ghost, Bangalore from 1978 to 1984. He reached his eternal Home on 22nd of July 2019. His funeral services were conducted on 24th of July 2019, Wednesday at OLPS church, Chembur at 10 am. May his soul Rest in Peace.