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Christmas, Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost and
Trinity Sunday Messages!!

Christmas
Wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !!!

Christian Churches all over the world are celebrating these days as Christmas season. 

2000 years ago the angel said:  “Do not be afraid; for see-I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. (Luke: 2:10)

Christmas is a season of celebration and joy to the world. But where is joy? Where is peace? The world is frightened and terrified today.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to this world and lived to give good news of great joy for all the people. But where is that great joy today? Where is the peace God has given us?
What happened to us?
Where did it go wrong?

When we look back at the events 2000 years ago we will see that the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, about 80 miles in length. The accommodation for travelers was the most primitive. The town was very cold and crowded and there was no place for them in the inn. “While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.” The only room Mary could found was in a manger. Our savior came to this world as simple as He can. The first announcement of angel came to the shepherds.

Those days Shepherds were the most despised people in that region. It was not unexpected, it was not accidental, but it was so deliberate that the first announcement came to the shepherds. It is a very lovely thought that the most despised shepherds were the first to see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Very likely the shepherds were also the most useful people because one of their jobs was to look after the temple lambs and the needs of the temple.

Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem. There were no ceremonies related to the birth of Jesus. The heavens took the place of earth. The angels sang the songs for Jesus.

This is the story of Jesus’ birth. This is the story of Christmas. This is our joy of Christmas.

The exact date of the birth of Christ was also on speculations. When we look back at the history we will see that during the first three centuries, Christmas was not even on the Christian calendar. However Christmas is now one of the largest celebrations of the world. 

For many it is only a celebration. Whatever may be the date and the history, our savior was born 2000 years ago.

But the real joy and the meaning of Christmas is missing today from our celebrations?

Angel said to them: “Do not be afraid; for see-I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” Are we really in peace celebrating Jesus’ birth?  The good news of Christmas came to the Shepard, the most despised, the poor, the suffering, and the helpless.

St. Luke describes the story this way:  “She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

There was no place for them in the inn 2000 years ago. Is there any room today in the world for our Lord? Is there any room in the world for the despised, poor and the sufferings today?
Is there any room in our home? The dynamic of the family system is changing very rapidly today, social changes threatening the security of our home today.

Is there any room in the world for Christ? Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Korean peninsula, in Asia, in the African continent, where is room for Christ in this world?

The whole world is threatened and terrified. The world is threatened today with weapons of mass destruction. It can destroy the human race and the entire universe.

Is there any room for our Lord today in any parts of North America?

How many thousands are literally in the shelter without anything to eat, any place to sleep and no one to comfort now today at this moment.

I am not talking about anywhere in the world. I am talking about the richest country on earth.

Is there any room in Palestine after 2000 years? Is there any room in Bethlehem today, where Jesus was born? The place is so tense and the people are so desperate now for their daily living. It is very dangerous now even for the tourists to visit.

Is there any room anywhere in this world today?

Ongoing economic hardships, the violence of wars so far away and on our own streets environmental problems on which all life depends, is any peace on earth today?

We are frightened today. The world is frightened today, frightened of terrorism, more so during Christmas season. The world is in tense between nations and within nations.

All around us the hearts of human beings are longing for love, peace, safety and security. The human race is longing for answers.

The real meaning of Christmas we see in John 3:16.“For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  

In the midst of this terrified world the answer is Christ our Lord.  Is there any room in our heart for our Lord? Will you make room for our Christ to be born in us? Unless he enters in our hearts and mind there will not be any peace on earth. Will you care for the despised, poor and the sufferings! Will you understand their problems! Birth of Jesus gave us life; gave life to all of us and by believing in Him we earned the right to become the children of God.

That is the joy of Christmas season. God has already given us the gifts that we really long for. God has planted the answers to our challenges within us. They are already within us in our heart.

We must believe in Christ and He must enter in our hearts and minds. The problem is that too many hearts remain cold and closed. Unless we care and love our neighbors as ourselves there will not be any peace on earth. Every year Christmas will come and go. This world will become more tense and terrified. Unless there is love there is no joy, no peace on earth.

As an individual, as a society, as a nation unless we understand the problems of our poor, despised, desperate neighbor and find real solutions to their sufferings there will not be any peace on earth. More than 1/3 of all the people in this world are Christians. Most powerful nations on earth are Christians. The answer is within us.

The Christian tradition teaches that inside every one of us there is a God. There is a place in each one of us that only God can fill. The answer is within us. If we open our hearts and mind for Christ we can find the answer within us. This Christmas I invite you to open your hearts. This Christmas, let God fill you with hope, life, and peace. As the Christmas carols put it: Let Christ be born in us. Today.

Will you love your neighbor as yourself?  Will you help to make room for Christ?

Once again I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


May God bless you all.


Fr. Mathew P. Idicula


Christmas
Wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !!!

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2: 7

Christmas is a celebration time for the world. Christmas is a joyous occasion. For some it is a holiday and vacation time; for others it is a get together and gift giving time. For Christians it is a joyous occasion not simply because it is a birthday celebration but because Christ’s birth gave us eternal life; our Lord Jesus Christ was born to this world to live as one among us and to save us from our sins. As Christians we are celebrating the truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ and the anticipation of the return of Christ to the world in His Second coming.

The first announcement of the birth of Jesus came to the shepherds. Shepherds were quite ordinary people; people who could not quite observe the laws and regulations of the so called chosen people. It was the simple people of the field that God’s message first came. We might expect that, if the Son of God had to be born into this world at all, it would be in a palace or a mansion. There was no room for Jesus’ birth, so it was in the common courtyard that Jesus was born. It is so lovely that the birth of the Son of God took place in this simplicity. It is the great thought of the Christian faith that we have a God who knows this life we live because He too lived it, and claimed no special advantage over us. Christmas is a day; our Lord Jesus Christ chose to be one among us to experience our problems and needs. Christmas also gives us strength because we are not alone in this world; our Lord who knows our every day needs is also with us in the midst of all our problems.

Birth of Jesus also brought peace on earth. There was no room in the inn was symbolic of what was to happen to Jesus. The only place where there was room for Him was on a cross. During this Christmas day our Lord is seeking an entry to the hearts of each one of us but he cannot find room because it is still over crowded. Every year Christmas will come and go. During this Christmas season will you receive our Lord in to this world; in to your life; in to your hearts and minds. Let us celebrate a happy and joyful Christmas and New Year. May God bless you all.

Peace on earth,

Fr. Mathew P. Idicula

Advent
According to the Christian calendar Advent comes before Christmas. Color of advent is purple. Advent is known as the season of expectation. In some tradition the season of advent is a season of fasting and prayer.
Advent is far more than simply celebrating a 2,000 year old event in history. What is advent? For Christians advent season is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ. During Advent we are also looking forward to the return of Christ to the world, His Second coming.
Advent is far more than simply celebrating a 2,000 year old event in history. What is advent? For Christians advent season is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ. During Advent we are also looking forward to the return of Christ to the world, His Second coming.
The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the season is the birth of Jesus Christ in this world. The celebration of Advent is also the anticipation of the return of Christ to the world in His Second coming.
Today’s Gospel portion (Matthew 24:37-44) reveals certain important truths about the second coming of Jesus Christ.
First it tells us that the hour of that event is known to God and to God alone. It is therefore clear that a speculation regarding the time of the second coming is only speculation. The person who speculates is claiming to know the secrets of God which belong to God and God alone. So it is not anyone’s duty to speculate but to prepare and wait for His second coming.
Second it tells us that the time will come with shattering suddenness on those who are in worldly things. In the flood story Noah prepared himself in the calm weather for the flood which was to come and when it happened he was ready. But the world was lost in their eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage and were caught completely unawares and therefore swept away. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ these words are a warning to us. It tells us that the coming of the Lord will happen at any time and we must always prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord.
It reminds us that there is a God and the issue of life is in God’s hands. Whenever God’s call comes at morning, evening, midday or midnight, it must find us ready. We must be prepared to join our Lord at any time.
This passage also tells us that with the coming of Christ there will be a time of separation and of judgment day. If we are ready we can join Him if not He will separate us from him. Beyond these things we cannot go in speculations. The ultimate knowledge is kept by God and God’s own wisdom. The most important point is are we ready for the coming of the King?
This advent season we are ready with our material planning. We have already decorated our church. In the coming days we are making more preparations for the seasons; more shopping more celebrations but the most important thing is are we ready for Christ in our life?
The coming of the Lord is known to none; to live without watchfulness invites disaster. God’s coming is compared here to the coming of a thief. A thief does not send a letter saying when he is going to be in a house. His principal weapon is surprise. Therefore a householder who has valuables in his house must maintain a constant guard. “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of the Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
While we are making preparations for the season of advent we must also examine ourselves. We must be ready for the season of advent not only externally; not only through our external decorations but also we must submit ourselves before God and completely surrender ourselves before God to receive him in us.
Seasons will come and go. The most important thing is are we ready for Christ? Will you follow that risen Christ? Are you preparing yourself for that Lord? Are we together in our journey?  

May God bless you all.

Fr. Mathew P. Idicula


Epiphany
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
In western Christian tradition, January 6th is celebrated as Epiphany. It extends until Ash Wednesday leading to lent. Today is the first Sunday after Epiphany.
Epiphany is known by other names in various traditions. In Europe, it is known as Three Kings’ Day. Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season. Christmas is a season. It is celebrated as a period of time rather than just a day. The Season of Christmas begins with the First Sunday of Advent, marked by expectation and anticipation. Twelve days of Christmas concludes with Epiphany. Epiphany looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity.The term epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or “to reveal." It represents the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to Jesus who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King.
The revelation of Jesus as we read in Luke (2:32) "a light for revelation to the Gentiles", was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few.
Today’s gospel portion (Mark 1:7-11) we heard about the decision day. Baptism of Jesus in a way presents many theological questions because John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. Baptism is meant for those who were sorry for their sins. But in Jesus’ case he was sinless. Let us briefly examine what is baptism meant to Jesus?
First it was a moment of decision. For thirty years he was in Nazareth. Very faithfully he was doing his duties to his home. Nazareth was sweet and peaceful. But now comes the moment of decision for Jesus. With the emergence of John the Baptist knowing fully the consequences Jesus answered the summons and the challenge of God. Baptism was a moment of decision for Jesus.
Second it was a moment of identification. With his baptism Jesus identify himself to bring better things to humanity. Jesus identification was with a movement not for his sake, but for the sake of others. With his baptism Jesus joined the company of God for the salvation of humanity.
Third it was a moment of approval. Jesus was very sure that it was his mission and he was called for that. To Jesus the voice came directly. As we read in Matthew (3:17) it said: “ Thou art my beloved Son.” Speaking direct to Jesus. With his baptism Jesus was a different person and he submitted his decision to God.
Finally, baptism was moment of equipment for Jesus. During his baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon him. There is a symbolism here. The dove is the symbol of gentleness. With his baptism Jesus was equipped to conquer the world with the message of love.With the baptism Jesus equipped to serve the humanity.
During this Epiphany season when Jesus fully reveled to us we must find Jesus in our hearts and minds. It may not be easy. As Christians we have renewed our faith in baptism. We have promised that we have Christ in our life. Are we keeping up our promises? We must examine ourselves. If not we must find Jesus in our life. Finding Jesus may mean that our life must take a different direction. May be we may need to give up everything we thought was important in our life. Sometimes our life may be in danger. But we must find Jesus in our life for our salvation. Are we willing to take that risk? Are we willing to lead a different way after finding Jesus? After finding Jesus are we ready to have different direction in our life.
Sometimes it may the most painful decision in our life. But we must do it. Christmas, New Year, Epiphany all are good celebrations but the meaning of our celebration must come within us. 

May God bless you all.

Fr. Mathew P. Idicula


Lent

 “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: Christian churches all over the world are celebrating these days as Lenten season. Forty days of lent is an important time for Christian life. Lenten season is a time for repentance and forgiveness. It is also a time for prayer and sacrifice in every levels of our life.

One of the most important words relevant in this Lenten season is “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

This passage is the essence of God, essence of gospel and the essence of Christian life. For today’s meditation let us mainly look at three important characters of God from this passage.

First this passage tells us that the origin and initiative in all salvation lies with God.

Sometimes Christianity is understood in such a way that God had to be persuaded to forgive. Sometimes we speak of God as angry, unforgiving and cruel to His creation. But we see in Jesus Christ, a loving and forgiving God. Sometimes Christian message is such a way that Jesus did something to change the attitude of God to condemnation to forgiveness. But this portion tells us very clearly that love originated in God. It was God who  gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish.

He sent his son because he loved the world more than His own son. The origin and initiative in all salvation lies with God. Forgiveness, salvation and grace are the gift of God.

Second we read in this portion that the nature of God is love.

It is very easy to think of a God who disciplines and punishes until we turns away from our sins. God is the creator, the sustainer and God has the power to disciple us and destroy us but the most important thing this text teaches us is that our God act not for God’s own sake but for ours. Our God exist not to satisfy his desire for power but to satisfy His love of the world. Our God is love and He exists for our being and welfare. Our God is not a monarch who treats his subject to obedience. God is love and God is the Father who cannot be happy until His wandering children have come home.

Our God is not a punishing God; our God is a loving God who gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Third it tells us of the width of the love of God. It was the world that God so loved. It was not an individual or a family. It was not the good people or the bad people. It was not only the Christians, but also non Christians. It was not one nation but all the nations in this world God loved. God so loved the loveable and the unlovable, the lonely and not lonely, the one who loves God and the one who never think of God, the one who rests in the love of God and the one who disobeys God. It was not only the people in the world who loved Him it was the world God loved. God so loved the world and everything in it.

All of us are included in His vast inclusive love, the love of God. God loved all of us and all God’s creation.

In this passage we read that God is love. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

This passage also warns us about the condemnation if we disobey God. If we disobey God the punishment is condemnation and reward for believe in God is eternal life. “Everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have internal life.”

Lent is a season for prayer and repentance. Lent is also a time for dedication and sacrifice in every levels of our life. Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and self discipline in our life not only in our eating habits but also in every level of our life.

It is also a time to extent our love towards our neighbors. The gifts we have received from God are not only for our own use but also for others not so fortunate.

We must also remember that we have a loving God in heaven who waits very patiently for us until we repent and turn to him.

We must also remember in this Lenten season that the only thing which we can take out of this world into the world beyond is ourselves; and the finer deeds which we have shown to our brothers and sisters in this world. The finer the self we bring the greater our treasure in heaven will be. Lenten season is a time for repentance and forgiveness and this Lenten season may God give forgiveness from all our sins.


May God bless you all!.


Fr. Mathew P. Idicula

Good Friday  
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
After a long lent season; finally another Good Friday is here. Christians all over the world are celebrating today as Good Friday. Good Friday is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar.
We may see many similarities and comparisons with Christianity and other world religions. But only in Christian religion we will see a God, who came down to this world and lived as one among us and died for our sins. What happened on Good Friday made the difference in Christianity from other religions. As we know, Jesus spoke very little and answered very few questions during his trials. But at the Cross he was not so silent. Jesus’ seven words from the cross are important Christian values and also important for Christian faith. It reveals the character of Christian life and teaches what Christianity is all about. These were also the last words Jesus spoke before his death on the cross. Not all of the gospels recorded all of these words. Let us meditate on these words taken from different gospels very briefly.
First word is taken from Lk. 23:34, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, There is nothing so lovely, and there is nothing so rare, as Christian forgiveness. Jesus said many wonderful things, but He rarely said anything more wonderful than, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Others may have in their hearts the unforgiving spirit; others may sin in ignorance; but we know better; we are followers of Christ, we are Christians and we must know better we must forgive as Christ forgave.
(2) “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Lk. 23:43) The word paradise is a Persian word meaning a walled garden. Jesus promised the thief the honored place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven. Surely this story tells us above all things that it is never too late to turn to Christ. There are other things of which we must say, the time for that is past or I am too old for that but we can never say that of turning to Jesus Christ. So long as a man’s heart beats, the invitation of Christ still stands. For us it is literally true that while there is life there is hope. The story also tells us repentance not old covenant is the key to salvation. Jesus is a savior always for everyone. No matter who, when and where. If we repent it is never too late for us to reach to Christ. Truly I tell you; today you will be with me in paradise.”
(3) “Woman, here is your son” “Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27)  In the end Jesus was not alone.  At his Cross there were four women named Mary along with his disciples. Jesus’ mother, Mary, Jesus’ mother’s sister, Mary, Mary from Magdala who loved him and Mary the wife of Clopas, we know little about. The presence of these brave women at the Cross, a very dangerous place at that time was not due to the fact that they were so unimportant that no one would recognize them. Their presence was indeed due to the fact that perfect love casts out fear. In this passage there is something which is surely one of the loveliest things in all the gospel stories. When Jesus was at the Cross he never forgot the duties in this world. Jesus committed his mother Mary to John’s care and John to Mary’s, so that they should comfort each other’s loneliness when he was gone. To the end of the day even when he was on the Cross, he never forgot the duties in this world that lay to his hand. Jesus was thinking more of the sorrows of others in this world than of his own. Jesus cares for each one of us; and he is with us in our sorrows and troubles even if no one else can be found around us.“Woman, here is your son” “Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
(4) “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? Which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) There is a mystery behind that cry. Maybe it was like this. Jesus had taken this life of ours upon him. In his human life; he had suffered all that life could bring. Jesus really and truly identified himself with the sin of man. Until now Jesus had gone through every experience of life except one-he had never known the consequence of sin. There is one thing sin does, it separates us from God. When Jesus experienced the consequence of sin “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”   (5) “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28) In this passage John brings us face to face with his human sufferings. When Jesus was on the Cross, he knew the agony of thirst. Here John stresses the fact that he was divine at the same time he was human (Jesus’ divinity and humanity) and really underwent the agony of the Cross and all the troubles any human being can bear in this world.“I am thirsty” a sign of Jesus’ human life. 
(6) “It is finished.” (John 19:30)  The other three Gospel do not tell us that Jesus said, “It is finished.” But they do tell us that he died with a great shout upon his lips. He did not say it is finished in weary defeat; he said it as one who shouts for joy because the victory is won. He accomplished his mission. A job well done!  “It is finished.”
Last and seventh words Jesus spoke from the Cross: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46) Jesus died with a prayer on His lips. This is Psalm 31:5 with one word added-the word Father. This was the first prayer that every Jewish mother taught her child to say last thing at night before sleep. “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” Jesus made the prayer more lovely began it with the word Father. Even on a Cross Jesus died like a child falling asleep in his father’s arms.
After a long lent season finally another Good Friday is here. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ; is this going to be another Good Friday for us or this is a special day in our life. If we truly believe that Jesus died for us; for our sins; it is a special, meaningful Good Friday for us.Good Friday means to us forgiveness, repentance, commitment, obedience, sacrifice above all Agape, unconditional love; love to our fellow human beings and to God. May God give us wisdom and knowledge to make this a meaningful Good Friday for us. Amen.

Let us pray: God of mercy, Lord Jesus Christ in love you sent your son so that we might be cleansed of sin and live forever. Bless each one of us as we gather to reflect on your sufferings. Your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites earth and heaven and reconciles us to you. May we who have faithfully reflected on these mysteries follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Fr. Mathew P. Idicula

Easter Sunday
Alleluia. Christ is risen!!!.

Wish you all a very Happy Easter.
"He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples.” (Matthew 28: 6,7) 


After forty days in Lent and a week of sufferings Easter day is finally here. Today we are going to rejoice because our Lord Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. Resurrection day is the most important day in the Christian religion. There is no Christianity without the resurrection. Risen God is the witness of Christian faith. Without an empty tomb there is no faith and no God and there is no salvation. Empty tomb is the witness of Christian faith.

Today’s gospel reading is about the empty tomb. The story of the woman at the tomb is narrated by all the gospel writers. Today we have heard Matthew’s story of the empty tomb. Those ladies, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the first to receive the news of the empty tomb; news of the Risen Christ. They were with him all the way. When all the so called faithful brave men were disappeared these ladies stood by him everywhere. Knowing fully the consequences they had been there at the cross. They had been there when He was laid in the tomb again they were there in the early hours of the morning.

And now they are receiving their reward; they were the first to receive the news of the Risen Lord. They were the first in the world who were confronted with the joy of the empty tomb; joy of the Risen Lord. For their faithfulness along with the joy they were also given great responsibilities. Let us examine them very briefly.

They were the first to be given the responsibility to believe. As we know these things were beyond belief. Too good to be true yet they were given the great responsibility to believe. The angel reminds them of the promise of Jesus, and confronted them with the empty tomb; his every word is a summons to believe. Yet it is a fact that there are many who feel that the promises of Christ are too good to be true.

We know Peter denied him three times. Judas betrayed him. Thomas did not believe the resurrection until he physically felt it. We did not see any of his close disciples with him in this difficult time. All of them were unfaithful. They were all afraid and may be they did not even believe it. These ladies had been with him every where. They were also at the tomb first. They were also the first to be given the responsibility to believe. Without them believing how can they convince others?

How many times we come across this empty tomb in our life? How many times our Lord had comforted us; consoled us? How many times we have seen the joy of the empty tomb? Yet are we able to believe? When we had the opportunity and responsibility did we believe? These women had been given the responsibility to believe because they were faithful in their mission? We must be faithful in our mission.

Secondly; they were given the responsibility to share. When they themselves have discovered the fact of the risen Christ, their first duty is to proclaim it to all to share it with other. “Go tell!” is the first command given to them by the angel of the Lord.

It was the responsibility of these ladies to share the good news of the Risen Lord. As Christians we are given the responsibility in this world to share this good news of gospel. It is our duty to be His witness in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. The book of Acts tells us that the Church carries on the life of Christ. We are given the responsibility to share as members of the body of Christ.  We must examine ourselves. Are we faithful in our mission?

Thirdly, they were urged to rejoice. First they were given the responsibility to believe, then they were to share only then they were urged to rejoice. The word the risen Christ met them was “rejoice”. The people who met the risen Lord must live for ever in the joy of the presence of Him; they were urged to rejoice. Nothing in this world can part them from the risen Lord any more. These women were faithful in their mission. They overcame all the challenges. They stood by him all the way in spite of all their troubles. Now they have their reward. They were urged to rejoice.

After forty days in lent in this final week of lent: We see different images of Christ.

On Palm Sunday, we saw a courageous Christ entering Jerusalem in spite of all the troubles waiting for him there. On Maundy Thursday, we saw a humble Christ washing the apostles’ feet, fully knowing that he is the king of king. On Good Friday, we saw a crucified Christ suffering on behalf of us, taking our sorrows and pains so that we will have eternal life. Today we have seen that empty tomb; the risen Christ triumphant against the powers of evil and death and promise of eternal life beyond.  Are you able to believe? Are you able to share and are you able to rejoice like the women at the tomb?

Life in this world is in the midst of sufferings. Life in this world we will always come across many Passion Weeks. In the midst of the gloom and doom of daily life, in the midst of unpredictability and uncertainty of this world, in the midst of the dreams that faded and the hopes that drooped we will see this Passion Week. We are urged to believe the good news, urged to share the good news and finally urged to rejoice in the good news of gospel. 

While we are preparing for Easter day we must also examine ourselves. What is Lenten season to us; how is resurrection related to our personal life? Is it merely a ritual every year in our church or it is a reality in our life? Can we see within our hearts and mind that our Lord Jesus Christ died for us and he is raised from the dead. Are we able to witness Christ in our personal life? Are you able to believe? Are you able to share and are you able to rejoice like the women at the tomb?

God’s promise on this Easter day we heard from the book of prophet Ezekiel. A new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:24-28) God promised to restore Israel not only physically; but also spiritually. God would give them a new heart for following him and put his spirit within them to transform them and empower them to do his will.

The new covenant was promised to be fulfilled in Christ. No matter how impure our life is now God offers us a fresh start. If we accept God’s promise, we can have our sins washed away, receive a new heart for God, and have his spirit within us. This is a new start. May the Lord of the impossible awaken our faith. Amen.

May God bless you all. 

Fr. Mathew P. Idicula

Pentecost Sunday
Wish you all a Happy Pentecost !!!

“ALL of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:4)

Christians all over the world is celebrating these days as Pentecost season. Pentecost is not particularly a Christian holiday. It is one of the most important Jewish holidays. Acts 2:1-13, we read the story of the Pentecost. There are three important Jewish festivals to which every male Jew within twenty miles of Jerusalem was bound to come to Jerusalem, the Passover, the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Pentecost fell on the fiftieth day after the Passover. The feast itself had two main significances for Jewish people. One, it commemorates the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.  (Leviticus 23:21) The other significance of this day is the offerings at the Festival of weeks. (Numbers 28:26) So many people come to Jerusalem on Pentecost festival than other feast days. 

What happened at Pentecost we really do not know; certainly the disciples had an experience of the power of the Spirit. After the resurrection they gathered together ashamed and astonished more faithful and may be thinking about their safety and planning for the future may be waiting for the risen Lord; if so they did not disappointed on Pentecost festival. “ALL of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

Holy Spirit is a word misunderstood by many Christian denominations today. Some have taken monopoly on the God’s Spirit. Charismatic Movement talks about Holy Spirit as their monopoly. On the other hand organized Christian denominations gave little or no importance to the word Holy Spirit or the presence of God. Certainly Holy Spirit is the presence of the God Almighty. Holy Spirit is not only a power by which God once upon a time intervened in the world, God’s Sprit or Holy Spirit is also the power and the force by which God intervenes constantly in new ways in the present world and makes God self knowable to us.

There are two important things we should know about this passage. After the resurrection, he appeared to them in Holy Spirit. Disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Joy not because Jesus was gone from them but they knew that he was with them forever. As members of the Christian church we can also have a great joy that the ascended Jesus was not gone from the world, he was with the disciples, with us, with the church and with the world forever. We read that promise in Matthew 28:20 “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Second important thing about this passage is that the ascension of Jesus together with the Pentecost day gave us hope of the Second Coming. There is no need to speculate about how and when it will happen because Jesus Himself said that not even He knew the day and the hour when the Son of Man would come. But we need to strive for the coming of that day and to make ourselves ready for it, knowing that God has a plan for the world, mankind and for each one of us even in our daily life. 

The risen God was no ghost or hallucination; the risen God is real. Christianity is a historical fact and we as Christian are waiting for that risen Christ. While we are waiting, it is also our duty to be His witness in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. As Christians it is not only a time to wait for God but also a time to work for God because the most priceless thing is waiting for us in heaven. The book of Acts tells us that the Church carries on the life of Christ. So it is our duty as Christians, to carry out the message of Jesus Christ.


May God almighty help each one of us to attain that joy of hope for the world to come and to be His witness to the end of the earth.
Amen.


Grace and Peace,


Fr. Mathew P. Idicula 

 

Trinity Sunday
Christians all over the world are celebrating today as (Sunday after Pentecost) as Trinity Sunday. Pentecost originally is a Jewish festival. In Christianity it is one of the most important days. Pentecost day is the birth day of Christian Churches. We believe in a God in Trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Trinity is also the basis of Christian faith.

The main theme for these days for our reading is a God who loves us and a God who is with us because God is love. In the Gospel portion (John 3:1-16) we heard an interesting, controversial and thought provoking story. The famous story of Nicodemus. This story was played out as a passion play. In order to understand the story better; there are certain things that we should know about Nicodemus.

Nicodemus must have been wealthy. We read that when Jesus died he brought for His body valuable (myrrh and aloes) gifts (John 19:39). Only a wealthy man could afford that at that time.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee. We may think that Pharisees are not good people. It is not at all true. They believe that the Law, the first five books of the Old Testament, to be the perfect and complete word of God. They worship God and observe the law word by word. The best example of that is their Sabbath Laws. Last year when I visited Holy Land I saw that first hand. On Sabbath days even elevator floors cannot be selected by human efforts. Due to Sabbath it was set on automatic.

Nicodemus was a ruler. He probably belonged to one of the most distinguished Jewish families. It is amazing that this Jewish aristocrat; ruler of the Jews came to this homeless carpenter of Nazareth that he might talk to Him about his soul.

It was by night that Nicodemus came to Jesus. He may not have wished to be seen by others by coming to Jesus. But there may be another reason also. Throughout the day Jesus was surrounded by crowds of people. It may very well be that he came by night because he wanted an absolutely private and completely undisturbed time with Jesus.

Nevertheless Nicodemus was a disturbed man; very well be like many of us; a man with all the honors and yet with something lacking in his life.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus he said to him “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God”. Jesus’ answer was that it was not the signs and the wonders that were really important; the important thing was such a change in a man’s inner life; new birth.

When Jesus said that a man must be born again he misunderstood Him.

In Jewish faith the idea of rebirth is nothing new. When a man from another faith became a Jew; when he had been accepted into Judaism by prayer and sacrifice and baptism he was regarded as being reborn. But when Jesus spoke of a man being born again Nicodemus misunderstood. Suddenly he thought of the physical rebirth.

This idea of rebirth and the phrase born again; runs all through the New Testament.

Paul speaks of the Christian New birth throughout his writings. If any man is in Christ it is as if he had been created all over again (2 Cor. 5:17). In Christ there is a new creation (Gal. 6:15). The new man is created after God in righteousness. (Eph. 4:22-24) The person who is at the first beginnings of the Christian faith is a babe (Hebres 5:12-14). Christianity came to this world with a message of rebirth. What does this rebirth means to us?

There are four closely inter-related ideas in the gospel of John. There is the idea of rebirth. There is the idea of the Kingdom of God, into which a man cannot enter unless he is reborn. There is the idea of son-ship of God. And there is the idea of eternal life.

In Matthew also we have same idea but more simple. “Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”.

Then what does Kingdom of heaven means? In Lord’s Prayer we see that the Kingdom of Heaven is a society where God’s will is as perfectly done on earth as it is in heaven.

To be in the Kingdom of Heaven is therefore to lead a life in which we have completely and willingly submitted everything to the will of God. We fully and perfectly and completely accept the will of God.

Let us take the idea of eternal life. Eternal life is not everlasting life in this miserable world. Eternal life is the kind of life that God lives. We can only enter into that life with close communion and fellowship with God; when we render to God that love, that reverence, that devotion, that obedience which truly bring us into fellowship with God.

When that happens we are born off water (means cleansing) and the Spirit (means power). We are born again.

To be born again is to be changed in such a way that it can only be described as rebirth and re-creation. The change comes when we love Jesus and allow Him into our hearts.

Then we become citizens of the Kingdom of God and we become sons and daughters of God. Then we enter into eternal life, which is the very life of God.

In the Old Testament portion (Exodus 3: 1-6) we see a different God. God the Father who called Moses to free Israelis. God spoke to Moses from an unexpected source; a burning bush. Abraham saw the smoking firepot and blazing torch. (Gen 15:17) When the slaves were free from Egypt God appeared before them as pillars of cloud and fire. Moses approached God who appeared in fire, with reverence and removed his shoes.

In the New Testament portion (Romans 8:12-17) we experience another different relationship with God; God the Spirit. Here Paul speaks of the Christian being adopted into the family of God. Because of what Jesus did there opens out to the Christian a life which is no longer dominated by the flesh. But a life, that is dominated by the Spirit of God; Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit is a word misunderstood by many Christian denominations today. Some have even taken monopoly on the word Holy Spirit or God’s Spirit. Charismatic Movement is considered to be the fastest-growing religious movement of our time, talk about Holy Spirit as their monopoly. On the other hand organized Christian denominations gave little or no importance to the word Holy Spirit or the presence of God in this world.

Holy Spirit is not only a power by which God once upon a time intervened in the world. Holy Spirit is also the power by which God intervenes constantly in the present world; in the Church; in our midst; in our personal lives.

When we live in this world some times we wonder why? Why this; why that why me? The risen God is with us always. Holy Spirit is with us in our homes, in our work places, in our Communities and in our churches. Remember the Spirit of God is with us when we are searching answers for our personal problems.

We are born again when we love Jesus and allow Him into our hearts and in to our day today life. Then we become citizens of that Kingdom; then we become sons and daughters of God; then we enter into eternal life, which is the very life of God and life with God.

Will you follow that risen Christ? God, the Father who called Moses to deliver His people from slavery. God, the Son who came down to this world as Christ to save us from our sins. And the risen God; who is with us as Holy Spirit to lead us in our day today life

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).


May God Almighty help each one of us to attain that joy of hope for the world to come. Amen.

Fr. Mathew P. Idicula 

"Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation." Mark 16:15

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