Homily: April 10, 2024, Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter (Go take your place)

"But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” I love this scene from the Acts of the Apostles. You can almost feel the excitement and experience a jaw-drop reaction when you visualize the prison doors suddenly open wide and a bright light leading them all out of prison. Free again! To continue preaching and spreading the Good News with greater fervor and conviction! It was not yet time for the apostles to stay in prison, they still had more work to do, so God sent His angels to set them back to the temple area, to reinstate them from being prisoners back to being preachers.  This is not a legend, not someone’s imagination, but it truly did happen. The truth is, such divine intervention is still happening in our time. Have you heard about the story of the beggar priest? I will share the gist  of it here. There was a priest who did somet

Homily: April 9, 2024 Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter (Needy Person)

 "There was no needy person among them." Today’s first reading described how the early Christians lived, they shared everything, no one owned anything to their own name, and the apostles distributed everything equally among the people. Can you imagine living in such a community, in such a society? Wouldn’t it be wonderful? Because truly, there would not be any needy person, everyone’s basic needs would be provided for. In the first few decades after the resurrection of Jesus, there was a common belief that the second coming of Jesus would happen very soon. It is reflected in an old Aramaic prayer the people chanted regularly, “Maranatha” which means "Our Lord is coming". Because of that belief, the people did not cling on to their property or wealth.  However, as the number of Christians increased, it must have become a herculean task for the apostles to ensure equal and fair distribution. And when they came to understand later that the second coming of the Lord was

Homily: April 8, 2023 Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Thy will be done)

 Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all. From the second reading, we hear about the ‘will’ and ‘consecration’. In the Gospel also, we hear the great Fiat of Mary, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”. By choosing to unite her will to God’s, the incarnation took place, the long-awaited Messiah took on human flesh. Mary was a simple young woman from Nazareth who like all other Jews, had been praying for the coming of the Messiah. When God’s plan was announced to her, she did not give up her well, instead she chose to unite her will freely and totally to the will of God. At that moment, her life is no longer separate from God’s plan, instead her life became separated and set aside from the world. She has consecrated herself totally to God. As Jesus grew and began to exercise His will

Homily: April 7, 2024 Second Sunday of Easter Sunday of Divine Mercy

 Let the house of Israel say, "His mercy endures forever." Let the house of Aaron say, "His mercy endures forever." Let those who fear the LORD say, "His mercy endures forever." We sang these verses in today’s responsorial psalm. God’s mercy endures forever. ‘Forever’ means from the very beginning to the very end of time, God’s mercy ‘endures’. What does it endure? Does it endure just the length of time? No, more than that. It endures the breadth of our sins, and the depth of our hard-heartedness. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they had to bear the consequences of their sins. Even then, we read the scene of God putting together some garments for Man and Woman to cover themselves, who became conscious of their nakedness. This is a beautiful sign of God’s affectionate and compassionate love for the man and woman He created. This is God’s mercy. Thereafter throughout the whole of history, from Abraham to Moses, to Jesus till today, God continues to pur

Homily: April 6, 2024, Saturday in the octave of Easter (First five saturday devotion.)

Thank you all for continuing to come for Saturday morning Mass. When I was little, my family used to attend Saturday morning Mass together and will always end with the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. To me, that is a beautiful devotion for the whole family. I have wanted to start Saturday morning Mass when I first came to SAC but didn’t know if it will catch on with the parishioners. Last year, I attended an evening talk about Our Lady of Fatima at St. Augustine Parish and came to know about the First Five Saturday devotion, and I was again motivated. Finally, today being the first Saturday of the month, we can begin. Let me share a bit more about this devotion. Sr. Lucia was one of the three shepherd children visionaries to whom our Blessed Mother appeared for six months in 1917 in Fatima. Later when Lucia grew up and joined the convent in Spain, our Blessed Mother appeared to her again on December 10, 1925, with this message, “Behold, my daughter, my Heart encircled with thorns

Homily: April 2, 2024, Tuesday in the Octave of Easter (Mary at the Tomb).

 Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb, weeping. Today’s gospel begins by describing the emotional state of Mary. We can all visualize and identify with this scene. Mary Magdalene is very sad, to the point of experiencing deep emotional pain which triggers tears. This is love.  I recall when my papa died within a week of discovering his illness. It was unexpected, we were all unprepared. All my sisters wept on the day he died, and into the days after his burial. They cried again, very emotionally, when we visited his tomb thereafter and I recited the Office for the Dead. I, too, cried a lot at papa’s death. Love is a powerful emotion. It stirs our heart to feel the pain of loss, which works up our brain to trigger the release of tears, to help reduce the emotional pain. God gave us tears to help us manage our pain.  Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus, and before He entered Jerusalem, and at the garden of Gethsemane. His love for humanity stirred up deep emotional pain, strong enough f

Homily: March 27, 2024, Wednesday of teh Holy Week

Preached During  Holy Family School Mass.  This week is a special week, do you know what it is known as? Yes, Holy Week! It is the holiest week in the whole year of the church. This is the week when the church follows everything that happened to Jesus, and studies seriously everything that Jesus did and taught, every day, up to Easter Sunday. Christians all over the world remember and celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus during this week. How many of you went to church last Sunday? Did you take back some palms? Great! So last Sunday was Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. It remembers the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem sitting on a donkey and many people welcomed him with palms shouting, “Hosanna to the King of kings!” It is the beginning of Holy Week. Then we have Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday. And what is today? You are right, today is Holy Wednesday. But there is also another name to this day…anyone knows? Today is also known as Spy Wednesday. A s

Homily: March 26, 2024, Monday of the Holy Week (Light to the nations)

 "I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." We can see light from the sun, we know what happens when we turn on the light switch in a room, we understand how it is like to walk in the night without any streetlight. But how does a person become a light to others and to the world? Yesterday we read from one servant song from Isaiah, meditating on the compassion, mercy, and love of the Messiah, who came as a suffering servant of God. Today we read a second servant song, which further iterates the mission of the Messiah to shine for the world and bring the salvation of God to everyone. God is light, in Him there is no darkness, and Jesus is the light of the world. How does His light shine in the world? During middle school, I read a short story titled ‘The Little Girl Who Spread Light’. It was based on a true story. It told of a businessman whose business failed terribly, he had no way out of the situation and decided to end hi

Homily: March 25, 2024, Monday of the Holy week (Servant songs).

“A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.” There are four passages in the book of the prophet Isaiah known as ‘Servant Songs’, or ‘Songs of the Suffering Servant’.  Today’s first reading is taken from the first song. The next two days we will read from another two songs. These are prophecies about Jesus, written 700 years before His birth, and they reveal the mission and disposition of the Messiah. This first song describes the most important disposition of Jesus and His very purpose on earth. A bruised weed is a stalk of grain which is crushed and broken in such a way that it will never produce any grain again. It is a dying stalk. This refers to the poor and oppressed, so miserable is their life such that they can never on their own, rise above their poverty and neediness. Their only hope is having someone to lift them out of their situation. A smoldering wick mi

Homily: March 22, 2024, Friday of the fifth week in Lent (vengeful)

 “But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure, they will be put to utter shame.” Jeremiah is arrogantly confident of God. He boasts of God’s might and that He will fight Jeremiah’s enemies down and put them all to ‘utter shame’ for the sake of the prophet. Don’t we all wish to have a mighty warrior, like a bodyguard, watching our back and causing all our enemies to fear and tremble? During my school days, kids from my village had to walk two miles every morning and evening, to and from school. There were twenty kids from my village who had to walk that way together every day. And along the way we would have lots to talk, play and fight about. We talked about anything and everything, and we fought over small and simple things. But the fights never lasted long; very quickly we became friends again. There was this girl, who was also my sister’s classmate, whenever somebody fought with her, she would threaten them by

Homily: March 20, 2024 Fifth Monday in Lent (Abraham's work)

 Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works of Abraham.” Traditionally, children often follow the trades of their parents, learning the craft and skills and attitude. Apprenticeship was the prevalent education system. So, what were the works of Abraham? What did he do? Searching scripture for the answer, James 2:23 says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.” All of Abraham’s works were works of faith; it was not ‘what’ he did, but ‘how’ he lived. He lived in faithfulness to God, he lived in close relationship with God. His faithfulness made him the father of all the faithful for generations and generations. His faithfulness caused him to believe in God and in the impossible. When God called him out of his homeland, his birthplace and to move to an unknown distant land, promising him a child in his very old age, and having descendants like the stars of heaven. These were v

Homily: March 18, 2024, Monday of the Fifth week in Lent.

“They suppressed their consciences; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments”.  Do you remember hearing these verses in today’s first reading? It is a very long reading so you might have missed it. These words made me recall something a very devout woman once said to me. She said, “Father, it is not easy to go to hell.” That got my attention because I have always thought that it is easy to go to hell but difficult to go to heaven, don’t you think so? She then continued and explained, “God has given us everything we need to help us get to heaven easily: a conscience, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, many opportunities to perform good deeds, help, guidance, gifts and charisms from the Holy Spirit, and the list goes on. But to go to hell, we have to choose to go against all these intentionally.” What an interesting perspective! And she is not wrong. In today’s story about Susanna, the judges who were plotting evil, had to go again

Homily: March 17, 2024, Fifth Sunday in lent (see Jesus)

“And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” Are you drawn to Jesus? In the Gospel, we see that the Greeks want to see Jesus. Greeks were non-Jews, they were pagans. They did not know the prophesies about a Messiah who will come to save the world. But these Greeks are seeking out Jesus.  They might have heard of His wisdom, or witnessed the miracles He performed, or seen the number of people He healed. They might simply be curious, or they might really be drawn to this amazing person, so much so that they approached Philip to arrange for them to see Jesus. Do you also want to see Jesus? We are getting closer to Holy Week. This is already the fifth Sunday of Lent and traditionally, the church veils the crucifix from now till Good Friday. Some churches would veil the statues too.  How do you feel seeing, or rather, not seeing the crucifix and statues of Jesus and the saints in the church? Have you ever thought, what would this world be if Jesus had not come?

Homily: March 16, 2024, Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

 "Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?” Do you firmly believe in Jesus? Why? If someone in authority comes and questions you, “Why do you believe in Jesus? Have you been deceived?” Would you be shaken? Would you know how to answer? In today’s Gospel, we see many people believing in Jesus, even the temple guards were inspired, because “never before has anyone spoken like this man”, they say. They believe because they have seen and heard Jesus for themselves. What about us? Who brought you into this faith? For me, it was my parents. They were believers and their parents were believers too. And so, generations in my family all believe in Jesus because someone whom we trust introduced us to the faith. And I do not for one moment think they have deceived me. Most of us would have started our faith life the same way. We come to believe because someone we trust believes in God first, and we followed them. They are not people of author

Homily: March 12, 2024, Tuesday of the fourth week in Lent (To be well)

“Once more, he measured off a thousand, but there was now a river through which I could not wade; for the water had risen so high it had become a river that could not be crossed except by swimming.” The book of Ezekiel contains visions and prophecies of Ezekiel, called to minister to the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon. We get a glimpse of how they were living in those times. Having lost the temple in Jerusalem, the people felt they have lost God and were giving up on the traditions and practices to keep up their faith. This vision of Ezekiel led me back to my own childhood days. Everyone in my village knew how to swim. There were no swimming coaches nor life jackets, but children just learnt to swim by following what others did. There was a pond at our family farm, it was 20 feet deep and almost always full. My siblings and I would go there very often. They learnt to swim very fast, but I took a long time. I was afraid of the deep waters; I was fearful about drowning. While ot

Homily: March 11, 2024, Mnday of the fourth week in Lent (Need signs and wonders to believe)

 "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe…" If you had been praying to God all your life, but never once were your prayers answered, would you still believe? My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was still studying in Rome. I prayed hard for a miracle for my mommy to be healed and to live long enough to see me become a priest. But she died at age 62 in 2012, four years before my ordination. Then in 2018, my father was also diagnosed with cancer. He was 70 years old. Again, I prayed hard for his speedy recovery, since I was already a priest for two years, I desperately needed a miracle to believe in my priesthood. But he passed away just one week after his diagnosis. I was sad for my parents’ early death, but what I found very difficult to accept was that my prayers for miracles were rejected, or so I thought. Now fast forward to January 2024, finally I made my first trip back to India after four years in USA. One of my anxieties was my hundred-and-o

Homily: March 10, 2024, Fourth Sunday in Lent (Hide from Light)

“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.” It is logical right? If we did something terrible, made mistakes or broke the rules, we really do not want to be exposed. It is embarrassing, shameful and so we hide. Either we do not want to face the consequences of punishment, or we are simply afraid that if others know about it, they will lose respect for us, look at us differently or stop loving us. A friend shared with me that once when he went for reconciliation, he sat in the confessional behind the screen and tried to change the tone of his voice so that he would not be recognized by the confessor who was his parish priest because he felt ashamed of his sins. At the end of the confession, after the absolution, the priest suddenly spoke to him to convey a message and called him by his name. He was recognized! Honestly, just to share with you as a priest, I really do not think too much about the sins y

Homily: March 6, 2024, Wednesday of the Third week in Lent (Laws)

 “Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, 'This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’” In today’s first reading, Moses exhorts the people of Israel to be carefully obedient to God’s Law. It is emphasized that if they remain faithful to these statutes, they will be a great nation, ‘truly a wise and intelligent people’. We know how the story developed after this - they became arrogant, rebellious, and disobedient to God, their glory did not last, eventually they ended up in exile and slavery. By nature, humans have been gifted with free will, and thus we do not like to be controlled, restricted, or bound by rules and laws. Yet, without boundaries, society or community will be in chaos. Everyone will be doing as they wish, there will be no order. Thus, laws are everywhere – in the church, in school, in every country, even in the family. It seems like we have no

Homily: March 5, 2024, Third Monday in Lent (Clear Debts).

"When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount." My family farm used to engage many workers from other Indian states who needed work. They were paid a daily wage. At the beginning of the farming season, these workers arrive at our farm without any money, so they would ask for some salary in advance as a loan and pay it off with their daily wage. However, if anyone with an outstanding loan went to ask for another loan, my papa would not allow it unless it was for a grave need. That way he could help them avoid accumulating more loans beyond their ability to pay back. Whenever I read this parable, I would recall my papa’s system and wonder why this King allowed his servant to accumulate such a huge amount of debt, knowing he would not be able to pay back. He could have required him to pay off his outstanding debt before taking up another loan. Did his generosity encourage the servant to borrow and spend more than he could earn and retu

Homily: March 4, 2024 Monday of the third week in Lent (Thy will be done).

 “My father," they said, "if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it?" Naaman was expecting to be healed in dramatic ways, in his opinion, that would make his travel all the way to Israel worth it. He probably thought he didn’t travel all the way to go through simple tricks. But finally, the simple instructions did the job perfectly. Not what Naaman was expecting but a miracle indeed. There was a period in my childhood when I was terribly afraid of injections. I was terrified of the needles. Once, I had a fever. There was a primary health center just a few yards from my home. I went to the doctor, who was a good friend of my family. I told him confidently, "I have a fever, not a high fever, so I only need paracetamol, no injections needed." The doctor laughed at me, he was very amused and knew very well what I was afraid of. I wanted the doctor to heal me but, in my way, in my terms, so I thought I could advise him how

Homily: March 3, 2024, Third sunday in Lent (Foolishness of God)

 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” Could God ever be foolish? Is God ever weak? Recently, I've been listening to a podcast by a man who converted from Hinduism to Christianity. Interestingly, he became interested in the Christian faith after reading Hindu sacred scriptures. The Rig Veda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda, are Hindu sacred writings in Sanskrit from around 3500 years ago. What he found in these ancient writings were consistent references to a divine savior who would come into the world and die on a cross. Convinced that those prophecies were pointing to Jesus, he began fervently preaching about Jesus the Savior of the world, in the context of Hindu scriptures, until his passing. Growing up in a predominantly Hindu country, I always enjoyed narratives of Hindu deities, especially epic stories from the history of Hinduism. I admired their invincible power, repeated victories in battles,

Homily: February 27, 2024, Tuesday of the second week in lent (White as snow).

 “Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow…” Today’s first reading is set at the time when the people of Judah had been rebellious against God, who had been providing for them. Prophet Isaiah spoke on behalf of the Lord, who though having been offended, was calling them to repentance and return to God. God wants to set things right with His people, and the way He will do it is to wash away all the sins and offences against Him, leaving no trace of the wrongdoings, becoming ‘as white as snow’, ‘as white as wool’. I have a friend who shared that when she was in high school, there was one year when she could never complete her school assignments. Her family was going through a rough time and it affected her studies. At one point the amount of schoolwork she owed her Math teacher was so much that she felt like dying, she knew she would never be able to complete all the outstanding work and it burdened her tremendously

Homily: February 26, 2024, Monday of the second week in Lent (God is mercy).

 In the first reading, it was during the time of exile in Babylon, when Daniel pleaded with God, saying, “But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!” In the responsorial psalm, we prayed, “May your compassion quickly come to us.” And the gospel passage for today began with this verse: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Our God is merciful, compassionate and always forgiving! How do you feel about this? I feel totally blessed and thankful. Because if our God is not, I would be condemned forever for my sins! Pope Francis published a book in 2016 titled, “The Name of God is Mercy”, reminding us to trust and always turn to God even in our unworthiness. The world exists today because of our God is loving, compassionate and merciful. If we look around and examine within ourselves, sin is everywhere. In this country alone, legal abortions would have hit 30 million since the turn of the millennium, not counting the illegal ones. Humanity continues to commit s

Homily: February 25, 2024, Second Sunday in lent (Obedient to death)

 “And in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing— all this because you obeyed my command." This Sunday’s first reading ends with these words. This is so powerful. God promises Abraham that because of his obedience and faithfulness to God, all the nations of the earth all through the generations will be blessed. It was a very difficult test that Abraham had gone through, his only son who was born at his old age had to be sacrificed as an offering to God, and he was willing. How many of us would be willing to do the same? Abraham, a human father, was willing to sacrifice his only son to please God. Would not God, our heavenly Father be willing to sacrifice His only beloved Son to save His people? Thus, Abraham proved himself worthy to be the father of all the faithful. His obedience and faithfulness remain to this day, 4000 years later, a perfect model for all of us, his descendants. God called Abraham out of his comfort to a life of seeking the land promis

Homily: February 24, 2024, Monday of the first week in lent

 “Be careful, then, to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.” To be careful, is to put care and attention into what we do. It is to be mindful, to be intentional. This verse in the first reading today makes us reflect: we are ending the first week of Lent, have we been careful with our Lenten observances? Lent is a beautiful season during which the church recommends all the faithful to put in extra effort into our spiritual life, so that we can advance in holiness, to come closer to God. Abstinence, prayer, almsgiving, fasting. These are what we are called to practice every day of the year, but during Lent, these same activities are especially emphasized. We are called to be careful in doing these, to observe them with greater sincerity and effort. For example, abstinence from meat on Fridays. It is such a very simple and easy act, to be in sync with the universal church, and in solidarity with those who do not even have proper meals on any day of their lives. So, do