A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

When Jesus prophesied his own betrayal and crucifixion it did not make any sense to his disciples because it did not fit their understanding of what the Messiah came to do. Unfortunately they were afraid to ask further questions! How ashamed the disciples must have been when Jesus overheard them arguing about who among them was the greatest!  Aren't we like the disciples? We compare ourselves with others and desire their praise. The appetite for glory and greatness seems to be inbred in us. Jesus made a dramatic gesture by embracing a child to show his disciples who really is the greatest in the kingdom of God. What is the significance of Jesus' gesture? Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples by placing the child in a privileged position of honor. Who is the greatest in God's kingdom? The one who is humble and lowly of heart, seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child. 

Jesus himself is our model. He came not to be served, but to serve (Mt. 20:28). Paul the Apostle states that Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). Jesus lowered himself (he whose place is at the right hand of God the Father) and took on our lowly nature that he might raise us up and clothe us in his divine nature. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). If we want to be filled with God's life and grace, then we need to empty ourselves of everything which stands in the way - pride, self-seeking glory, egoism, narcissism, self-centeredness, vanity etc. God wants empty vessels so he can fill them with his own glory, grace, and love (2 Cor. 4:7). Are we ready to humble ourselves and to serve others as Jesus did? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Who is Jesus for you - and what difference does he make in your life? Many in Israel recognized Jesus as a mighty man of God, even comparing him with the greatest of the prophets. Peter, always quick to respond whenever Jesus spoke, professed that Jesus was truly the "Christ of God" - "the Son of the living God". No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter, but only God. Through the "eyes of faith" Peter discovered who Jesus truly was. Peter recognized that Jesus was much more than a great teacher, prophet, and miracle worker. Peter was the first apostle to publicly declare that Jesus was the Anointed One. The word for "Christ" in Greek is a translation of the Hebrew word for "Messiah".  Both words literally mean the Anointed One.

Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die in order that God's work of redemption might be accomplished. How startled the disciples were when they heard this word. How different are God's thoughts and ways from our thoughts and ways! It was through humiliation, suffering, and death on the cross that Jesus broke the powers of sin and death, and won for us eternal life and freedom from the slavery of sin and from the oppression of our enemy, Satan. If we want to share in the victory of the Lord Jesus, then we must also take up our cross and follow where he leads us. What is the "cross" that we must take up each day? - It is that when my will crosses with God's will, then His will must be done!

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

How do we expect the Lord Jesus to treat us when we ask for his help? Do we approach with fear and doubt, or with faith and confidence? Jesus never turned anyone aside who approached him with sincerity and trust, and whatever Jesus did, he did well. When Jesus approached a man, who was deaf and had a speech impediment, Jesus showed his politeness for this man's predicament. Jesus took him aside privately, no doubt to remove him from embarrassment with a noisy crowd of onlookers. Jesus then put his fingers into the deaf man's ears and he touched the man's tongue with his own spittle to physically identify with this man's infirmity and to awaken faith in him. With a word of command, the poor man's ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 

What is the significance of Jesus putting his fingers into the man's ears? St. Gregory the Great, a church father from the 6th century, commented on this miracle: "The Spirit is called the finger of God. When the Lord put his fingers into the ears of the deaf mute, he was opening the soul of the man to faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit." The peoples’ response to this miracle testifies to Jesus' great care for others: He has done all things well. No problem or burden was too much for Jesus' careful consideration. The Lord treats each of us with kindness and compassion, and he invites us to treat one another in a like manner. The Holy Spirit who dwells within us enables us to love as Jesus loves. Do we show kindness and compassion to our neighbors and do we treat them with politeness and respect as Jesus did? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

How do we expect the Lord Jesus to treat us when we ask for his help? Do we approach with fear and doubt, or with faith and confidence? Jesus never turned anyone aside who approached him with sincerity and trust, and whatever Jesus did, he did well. When Jesus approached a man, who was deaf and had a speech impediment, Jesus showed his politeness for this man's predicament. Jesus took him aside privately, no doubt to remove him from embarrassment with a noisy crowd of onlookers. Jesus then put his fingers into the deaf man's ears and he touched the man's tongue with his own spittle to physically identify with this man's infirmity and to awaken faith in him. With a word of command, the poor man's ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 

What is the significance of Jesus putting his fingers into the man's ears? St. Gregory the Great, a church father from the 6th century, commented on this miracle: "The Spirit is called the finger of God. When the Lord put his fingers into the ears of the deaf mute, he was opening the soul of the man to faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit." The peoples’ response to this miracle testifies to Jesus' great care for others: He has done all things well. No problem or burden was too much for Jesus' careful consideration. The Lord treats each of us with kindness and compassion, and he invites us to treat one another in a like manner. The Holy Spirit who dwells within us enables us to love as Jesus loves. Do we show kindness and compassion to our neighbors and do we treat them with politeness and respect as Jesus did? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus' discourse on "eating his flesh and drinking his blood" (John 6:51-59) which pointed to the Last Supper, caused offence to many of his followers.  Jesus claimed to be the bread of heaven, the very life of God given to us as spiritual food to sustain us on our journey to our promised homeland with the Father in heaven. Jesus did not leave any middle ground for his hearers. They must either accept his word as divine or reject it as the claim of an imposter. Jesus pressed the issue with his beloved disciples because he wanted to test their faith and loyalty to him as the Holy One sent from the Father in heaven. Jesus assures his disciples that it is his heavenly Father who gives the invitation and the grace to believe and follow even in the "hard sayings".

How does God help us grow in faith and trust in his word, even the “hard sayings” which are difficult to understand? Faith is a gift which God freely gives to those who listen to his word and who put their trust in him. Faith is a personal response to God's revelation of himself. Faith is neither blind nor ignorant. It is based on the truth and reliability of God's word. True faith seeks understanding. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, "I believe in order to understand, and I understand the better to believe." The Lord Jesus offers all of his followers his life-giving word and Spirit to help us grow in our knowledge and understanding of God. Do we believe, as Peter did, that Jesus has the words of everlasting life and the power to change and transform our lives? Ask the Lord Jesus to increase our faith that we may grow in knowing, loving, and serving him as our Lord and Redeemer, Teacher and Healer, Master and Savior.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

The Assumption of Our Lady

 

The Feast of the Assumption is one of the most important feasts of our Lady.  Catholics believe in the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. That is, we believe that when her earthly life was finished, Mary was taken up, body and soul, into Heavenly glory, where the Lord exalted her, as Queen of Heaven. The Assumption is the feast of Mary’s total liberation from death and decay, the consequences of original sin. It is also the remembrance of the day when the Church gave official recognition to the centuries-old belief of Christians about the Assumption of their Heavenly mother.  By the 6th century the Dormitio ("falling asleep") of the Virgin began to be commemorated in Eastern churches on August 15. The observance gradually spread to the West, where it became known as the feast of the Assumption.  By the 13th century, the belief had been accepted by most Catholic theologians.  It was on November 1, 1950, that, through an Apostolic Constitution (Munificentimus Deus), Pope Pius XII officially declared the Assumption as a Dogma of Catholic faith. 

 

What is meant by "Assumption?"  “Assumption” means that after her death, Mary was taken into Heaven, both body and soul, as a reward for her sacrificial cooperation in the Divine plan of Salvation. It is our faith and a dogma of the Catholic Church today. It gives us hope that all those who believe in Jesus Christ will also be resurrected and will have eternal life with Jesus and Mary and with other saints in heaven. On this feast day, let us thank the Lord for the gift of this heavenly Mother, and let us pray to Mary to help us find the right path every day. I wish you all a Happy Feast!!!

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus makes the claim which only God can make: “I am the bread of life.” The bread which Jesus offers is none other than the very life of God. This is the true bread which can truly satisfy the hunger in our hearts. The manna from heaven prefigured the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, which Jesus gave to his disciples on the eve of his sacrifice. The manna in the wilderness sustained the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. It could not produce eternal life for the Israelites. Jesus' question to the crowd, and to each one of us as well, echoes the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy" (Isaiah 55:2)? 

There are two fundamental types of hunger - physical and spiritual. Only the Lord Jesus can satisfy the deepest hunger in our heart - the hunger for everlasting truth, life, and love. Jesus alone can satisfy our hunger for truth - because in him alone is the Truth which is found in God. Jesus alone can satisfy our hunger for life - because he alone can give us abundant life - the supernatural life of God which transforms us now and lasts forever. Jesus alone can satisfy our deepest hunger for love - the love of God that knows no end, that never fails nor forsakes us, that outlasts sin and death. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you are the true Bread of Heaven. Only you alone can truly satisfy the deepest longing and hunger of my heart. Nourish me with the bread of life that I may be truly satisfied in you alone as the giver of life.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the “true bread of heaven” that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The sign of the multiplication of the loaves (John 6:1-15), when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes through his disciples, prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or the Lord's Supper. When we receive from the Lord's table, we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the "one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ" (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward.

 

When we approach the Table of the Lord, what do we expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for our souls? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist at the Lord's Table is an intimate union with Jesus Christ, our Divine Healer and Savior. The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves so that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do we trust in God's provision for us and do we share freely with others, especially those who are in need? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Jesus gave his apostles both the power and the authority to speak and to act in his name (Mark 6:7). He commanded them to do the works which he did - to heal the sick, to cast out evil spirits, and to speak the word of God - the good news of the gospel which they received from Jesus. When Jesus spoke of power and authority, he did something unheard of. He wedded power and authority with self-sacrificing love and humility. The "world" and the "flesh" seek power for selfish gain. Jesus teaches us to use power for the good of our neighbor.

 

Why does Jesus tell the apostles to "travel light" with little or no provision? "Poverty of spirit" frees us from greed and preoccupation with our possessions and makes ample room for God's provision. The Lord wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves. He wills to work in and through each of us for his glory. The Lord entrusts us with his gifts and talents. Are we eager to place ourselves at his service, to do whatever he bids us, and to witness his truth and saving power to whomever he sends us? Let us pray: Lord Jesus, make me a channel of your healing power and merciful love, that others may find abundant life and freedom in you. Free me from all other attachments that I may joyfully pursue the treasure of your heavenly kingdom. May I witness the joy of the Gospel both in word and deed.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

July 4: Independence Day


As we celebrate the Independence Day of the United states today, I wish all of you a very Happy Independence Day.


1. This is a day to thank God for the political and religious freedom we enjoy, and to pray for God’s special blessings on the leaders and the people of our country.
2. It is a day to remember, with gratitude, the founding fathers of our democratic republic, who be-lieved that all power, including political power, came from God, and was given to the people who entrusted this power to their elected leaders.
3. It is a day to remember and pray for all our brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives to keep this country free and safe.
4. It is day to remember the basic principle underlined in the constitution, that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
5. It is day to remind ourselves that we have a duty to protect these God-given rights by voting into power leaders who believe in God, and who have character, integrity, experience and belief in absolute human rights.
6. It is a day to take a pledge to become recommitted to doing something about our own growth in Christ, and to living as Americans who contribute something to our religion, church and country and to the lives of others.
7. It is a day to offer our country and all its citizens, on the altar of God, asking His special provi-dential care, protection and blessings.
I wish you all once again a very Happy Independence Day. May God bless all of us.

 

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father’s Day

 

Father's Day is observed on the Third Sunday of June which falls on 20th June this year. Father’s Day is not designated to honor solely one’s biological father, rather modern Father’s Day suggests that we should celebrate this day with those whom we consider worthy to be our father even if they are not our fathers biologically or legally. Father’s Day is an important celebration in our lives in two ways. In one way, it gives us an opportunity to thank our fathers for their sacrifices. On the other hand, it helps us to understand the challenges of fatherhood. It also teaches us to stay responsible when raising our children,  because they will have to lift the burden of the nation on their shoulders some day. It is our moral obligation to train them well for such hard times.

 

Are you wondering about how to celebrate Father’s Day? Let me give you a few suggestions and you can plan your activities on this day. 1. Buy flowers for your father. 2. Start your day by wishing your father Happy Father’s Day and thank him for bringing you up. 3. Bring a Father’s Day gift for him that you can afford and you think would make him happy. 4. Plan a brunch or dinner together. 5. Plan an outing party with your family. 6. Take time to watch a movie together or sit together. 7. Share your childhood memories and feelings with your father. 8. If you are celebrating the day with someone other than your biological father, express your feelings with them and make him/her realize how much you revere him/her. I wish all Fathers a very Happy Father’s Day.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

Sunday Message

 

What can mustard seeds teach us about the kingdom of God? The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little mustard seed it produced. God's kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God's word, and it works unseen and causes a transformation from within. Just as a seed has no power to change itself until it is planted in the ground, so we cannot change our lives to be like God until God gives us the power of his Holy Spirit.

 

The Lord of the Universe is ever ready to transform us by the power of his Spirit. Are we ready to let God change us by his life-giving Word and Spirit? The kingdom of God produces a transformation in those who receive the new life which Jesus Christ offers. When we yield to the Lord Jesus and allow his word to take root in us, our lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Do we believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit? Let us pray: Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and transform me into the Christ-like holiness you desire. Increase my zeal for your kingdom and instill in me a holy desire to live for your greater glory.  Amen

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

3rd Sunday of Lent (B)

 

When Jesus went to Jerusalem at Passover time, he shocked the Jewish leaders by forcibly expelling the money-chargers and traders from the temple. Jesus referred to the temple as his Father's house which was being made into a "house of trade" (John 2:16) and "den of robbers" (Mark 11:17). Jesus' disciples recalled the prophetic words of Psalm 69: "Zeal for your house will consume me." This psalm was understood as a Messianic prophecy. Here the disciples saw Jesus more clearly as the Messiah who burned with zeal for God's house. 

 

Jesus' cleansing of the temple is also a prophetic sign of what he wants to do with each of us. He ever seeks to cleanse us of our sinful ways in order to make us into living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God desires that we be holy as he is holy. Do we recognize the indwelling presence of God within us through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit? The Lord Jesus wants to renew our minds and to purify our hearts so that we may offer God fitting worship and enjoy his presence both now and forever. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill us with a holy desire and burning zeal for his holiness and glory to grow in us and transform the way we think, act, and live as a son or daughter of God. Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, you open wide the door of your Father's house and you bid us to enter confidently that we may worship in spirit and truth. Help us to draw near to your throne of mercy with gratitude and joy.

to tell others of your mercy and compassion.  Amen.

4th Sunday of Lent (B)

 

Jesus explained to Nicodemus that the "Son of Man" must be "lifted up" to bring the power and authority of God's kingdom to bear on the earth (John 3:14). The title, "Son of Man," came from the prophet Daniel who describes a vision he received of the Anointed Messiah King who was sent from heaven to rule over the earth (Daniel 7:13-14). Traditionally, when kings began to reign they were literally "lifted up" and enthroned above the people on a daiz. Jesus explains to Nicodemus that he will be recognized as the Anointed King when he is "lifted up" on the cross at Calvary. Jesus died for his claim to be the only begotten Son sent by the Father in heaven to redeem, heal, and reconcile his people with God. 

 

The bronze serpent which Moses lifted up in the wilderness points to the cross of Christ which defeats sin and death and obtains everlasting life for those who believe in Jesus Christ. The result of Jesus "being lifted up on the cross", and his rising from the dead, and his exaltation and ascension to the Father's right hand in heaven, is our "new birth in the Spirit" and our adoption as sons and daughters of God. God not only frees us from our sins and pardons us, he also fills us with his own divine life through the gift and working of his Spirit who dwells within us. The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual power and gifts, especially the seven-fold gifts of wisdom and understanding, right judgment and courage, knowledge and reverence for God and his ways, and a holy fear in God's presence, to enable us to live in his strength as sons and daughters of God. Do we thirst for the new life which God offers us

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

3rd Sunday of Lent (B)

 

When Jesus went to Jerusalem at Passover time, he shocked the Jewish leaders by forcibly expelling the money-chargers and traders from the temple. Jesus referred to the temple as his Father's house which was being made into a "house of trade" (John 2:16) and "den of robbers" (Mark 11:17). Jesus' disciples recalled the prophetic words of Psalm 69: "Zeal for your house will consume me." This psalm was understood as a Messianic prophecy. Here the disciples saw Jesus more clearly as the Messiah who burned with zeal for God's house. 

 

Jesus' cleansing of the temple is also a prophetic sign of what he wants to do with each of us. He ever seeks to cleanse us of our sinful ways in order to make us into living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God desires that we be holy as he is holy. Do we recognize the indwelling presence of God within us through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit? The Lord Jesus wants to renew our minds and to purify our hearts so that we may offer God fitting worship and enjoy his presence both now and forever. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill us with a holy desire and burning zeal for his holiness and glory to grow in us and transform the way we think, act, and live as a son or daughter of God. Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, you open wide the door of your Father's house and you bid us to enter confidently that we may worship in spirit and truth. Help us to draw near to your throne of mercy with gratitude and joy.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

2nd Sunday of Lent (B)

 

Are we prepared to see God's glory? God is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when the disciples see Jesus transfigured on the mountain. Jesus' face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:2,3). When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (Exodus 34:29). St. Paul says that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). In the Gospel account Jesus appeared in glory with Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and with Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, in the presence of three of his beloved apostles - Peter, James and John. 

 

What is the significance of this mysterious appearance? Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem - his betrayal, rejection and crucifixion. Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave his approval: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him”. The Father glorified his Son because he obeyed. The Lord wants to share his glory with each of us. The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see his glory, he wants to share this glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father's glory: follow me - obey my words - take the path I have chosen for you and you will receive the glory and blessings of my Father's kingdom - your names will be written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Let us pray: Lord Jesus, keep me always alert and awake to you, to your word, your action, and your daily presence in my life. Let me see your glory.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

 

Do we seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus' time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. In Jesus’ time, lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Lepers were not only shunned, but regarded as "already dead" even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur. But Jesus not only granted the leper his request, but he demonstrated the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean - not only physically, but spiritually as well. 

 

How do we approach those who are difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some defect? Do we show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love or cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.  Amen.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

 

Who do we take our troubles to? Jesus' disciples freely brought their troubles to him because they found him ready and able to deal with any difficulty, affliction, or sickness which they encountered. When Simon brought Jesus to his home, his mother-in-law was instantly healed because Jesus heard Simon's prayer. Jerome, an early church bible scholar and translator (347-420 AD), reflects on this passage: "Can you imagine Jesus standing before your bed and you continue sleeping? It is absurd that you would remain in bed in his presence. Where is Jesus? He is already here offering himself to us. 'In the middle,' he says, 'among you he stands, whom you do not recognize' (John 1:26). 'The kingdom of God is in your midst' (Mark 1:15).

 

Do we allow Jesus to be the Lord and healer in our personal lives, family, and community? Approach the Lord with expectant faith. God's healing power restores us not only to health but to active service and care of others. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can't set us free from. Do we take our troubles to him with faith that he will help us? Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, you have all power to heal, and to deliver from harm. There is no trouble nor bondage you cannot overcome. Set us free to serve you joyfully and to love and serve others generously. May nothing hinder us from giving ourselves wholly to you and to your service.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

What is the kingdom of God? The word "kingdom" means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means "sovereignty" or "reign" and the power to "rule" and exercise authority. The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. His kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor (Psalm 145:11-13). God sent us his Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into his heavenly kingdom - a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus' mission. It's the core of his gospel message.

 

How do we enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do in order to receive the kingdom of God: repent and believe. Repentance means to change - to change my way of thinking, my attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of my heart rather than sin, selfishness, and greed. True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to sin and harmful desires. Do we believe that the gospel - the good news of Jesus - has power to free us from bondage to sin and fear? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

 

Who is Jesus for us? John calls Jesus the Lamb of God and thus signifies Jesus' mission as the One who redeems us from our sins. The blood of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12) delivered the Israelites from their oppression in Egypt and from the plague of death. The Lord Jesus freely offered up his life for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 Corinthians 5:7). The blood which he poured out for us on the cross cleanses, heals, and frees us from our slavery to sin, and from the "wages of sin which is death" (Romans 6:23) and the "destruction of both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10:28).

 

It is significant that John was the son of the priest, Zachariah, who participated in the daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29). In Jesus, John saw the true and only sacrifice which could deliver us from the bondage of sin, death, and the powers of hell. How did John know the true identity of Jesus, as the Son of God and Savior of the world (John 1:29)? The Holy Spirit revealed to John Jesus' true nature in such a way that John bore witness that this is the Son of God. How can we be certain that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of the living God? The Holy Spirit makes the Lord Jesus Christ known to us through the gift of faith. God gives us freely of his Spirit that we may comprehend - with enlightened minds and eyes of faith - the great mystery and plan of God to unite all things in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Let your Spirit be aflame in my heart that I may joyfully seek to do your will in all things.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

The Baptism of the Lord

Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John's baptism? In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the "baptism" of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus' baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father's will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan river. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation. 

How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus' humble self-abasement and baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD), an early church father tells us: "Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him." Do we want to see our life transformed in the likeness of Christ? And do we want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel? Examine Jesus' humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in our heart. As we do, heaven will open for us as well. Jesus is ever ready to renew and refashion us in his likeness through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus wants his love and truth to shine through us that many others may find new life, freedom, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill us with his Holy Spirit that we may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around us. 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

The Epiphany of the Lord

 

Jesus was born in obscurity. Only the lowly shepherds recognized him at his birth. Some wise men (Magi) also found their way to Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn King of Israel. These men were not Israelites, but foreigners. They likely had read and discussed the Messianic prophecies and were anxious to see when this Messianic King would appear. God led them by means of an extraordinary star across the desert to the little town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born. In their thirst for knowledge of God, the wise men from the East willingly left everything, their home and country, in pursuit of that quest. In their diligent search they were led to the source of true knowledge - to Jesus Christ, the Light and Wisdom of God. When they found the newborn King, they humbly worshiped him and gave him gifts fit for a king.

 

To know and to encounter Jesus Christ is to know God personally. In the encounter of the wise men with Jesus, we see the plan of God to give his only Son as King and Savior, not just for the Jewish people but for all the nations as well. The Lord Jesus came that both Jew and Gentile might find true and lasting peace with God.  It is God’s desire that Jew and Gentile alike will find the Lord and Savior on their journey of life. Do we bring the light of Jesus Christ to those we meet through the witness of our life and testimony? Let us pray today: Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for bringing salvation to all the nations. May the gospel of salvation be proclaimed to every nation today and to every person on the face of the earth.  Help me to be a good witness of the joy and peace of the gospel to all I meet.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

The Holy Family

By celebrating the Sunday following Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family, the Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for inspiration, example and encouragement.   They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that He might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God. Jesus brought holiness to the family of Joseph and Mary as Jesus brings us holiness by embracing us in His family. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the following advice to the parents: “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.  They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.  The home is well-suited for education in the virtues.” The CCC adds: “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children.” (CCC #2223).

The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that, as the basic unit of the universal Church, each family is called to holiness. In fact, Jesus Christ has instituted two Sacraments in His Church to make society holy - the Sacrament of priesthood and the Sacrament of marriage.  Through the Sacrament of priesthood, Jesus sanctifies the priest as well as his parish. Similarly, by the Sacrament of marriage, Jesus sanctifies not only the spouses but also the entire family. The husband and wife attain holiness when they discharge their duties faithfully, trusting in God, and drawing on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit through personal and family prayer, meditative reading of the Bible, and devout participation in Holy Mass.  Families become holy when Christ Jesus is present in them. Jesus becomes truly present in a family when all the members live in the Christian spirit of sacrifice. This happens when there is mutual understanding, mutual support and mutual respect.   There must be proper care and respect given by children to their parents and grandparents, even after they have grown up and left home. I wish you all a happy and a peaceful family life.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

4th Sunday Advent

 

How does Mary respond to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38)? She knows she is hearing something beyond human capability. It will surely take a miracle which surpasses all that God has done previously. Her question, "how shall this be, since I have no husband" is not prompted by doubt or skepticism, but by wonderment! She is a true hearer of the Word and she immediately responds with faith and trust. Mary believed God's promises even when they seemed impossible. She was “full of grace” because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. Mary is the "mother of God" because God becomes incarnate when He takes on flesh in her womb. When we pray the Nicene Creed, we state our confession of faith in this great mystery: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man". 

 

What is the key that unlocks the power and grace of God's kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience, for sure! God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willing obedience and heartfelt trust as Mary did. When God commands, he also gives us the help and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace, or resist and go our own way.

 

Do we believe in God's promises and do we yield to his grace?

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

Who or what takes first place in our lives - in our daily thoughts, cares, and concerns? God has put us first in his thought, care, and concern for our well-being and future. God loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding kindness and mercy towards us. Even while we were hopelessly adrift through our own sinful pride, rebellion and unbelief, he chooses to give us his own beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for our sake - to set us free from slavery to sin and death. 

God has no equal - that is why we owe the eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit our undivided loyalty, trust, and obedience. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for the Lord Jesus who calls us to follow him. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. To place any relationship or anything else above God is a form of idolatry. We can allow many different things to take control of our lives and possess us - such as greed and lust for power, possessions, and wealth. But only God's love can set us free to love as he loves - with mercy, kindness, goodness, patience, perseverance, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). If we pursue the love of God and put his kingdom first in our lives, then he will give us everything we need to sustain us now and, in the future, as well. Who is the Lord and Master of our lives?

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

Divine Mercy Sunday

 

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Since the year 2001, the second Sunday of Easter has been consecrated by the Church to celebrate the Feast of the Divine Mercy. It is an effect of the devotion started by a Polish nun named St. Faustina Kowalska to whom Jesus revealed the message of His divine and merciful love. This Sunday is specifically dedicated to praise the Love of God, a Love full of compassion for all those who have sinned, and therefore for all of us. “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, (and today, the doors are shut because of the fear of Coronavirus) Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send You.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” (Jn. 20:19-23)

 

The first word uttered by the Risen Christ to His Apostles conveyed His special Easter gift to His Church: “Peace!” Commissioning His apostles to forgive sins in His name was all the more made significant because He immediately followed His peaceful greeting with the words: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Jesus clearly wanted His apostles to realize that peace and mercy are inseparable; and that true peace can only be achieved by forgiving one another.

We know that forgiveness consists of far more than just the awareness of God’s never-ending love and mercy. Jesus says, “Be merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful … The measure with which you measure will be measured back to you.” (Lk 6:36-38) He also said: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Mt 5:7) The Lord’s point is that the prerequisite for our receiving mercy is our showing mercy to others. He taught how to pray to Our Father in which we pray: “Forgive us our trespasses as we have forgiven those who have trespassed against us,” (Mt 6:12). And He warned: “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their sins, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your sins.” (Mt 6:14-16)

As we spread the Good news that Jesus has truly risen in our midst, may we all experience the power of God’s mercy and never grow tired of forgiving each other. In response to Jesus’ merciful love shown to us on the Cross, in the Eucharist, and on Easter Sunday when He established the sacrament of His mercy, we say, “Jesus, we trust in You. Your mercy endures forever!” And today, in a special way, in the context of this Coronavirus Pandemic, let us pray to the Lord, “Lord, have mercy on us all.”

I wish you all a Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! Stay safe and healthy. My prayers are always with you.

Fr. Thomas A. Sebastian

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

Easter Sunday - 2020 

 

 I wish you all a Happy Easter. Today is Easter Sunday. What we are celebrating today is a mystery of our faith that Christ had been raised from the dead. He is a glorified Christ in body and spirit. If Christ did not resurrect, St. Paul says: “Then empty too is our preaching; empty too, your faith,” (1Cor 15:14). If Christ did not resurrect then our suffering would be without meaning; our belief in God would be for nothing; our love would be fruitless; our prayers and our striving to do good and to be good would all be useless; and our death would be in vain. But by His resurrection, Jesus is showing us that life is not meaningless, our suffering is meaningful and our love would be fruitful. And the Risen Lord said: “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).  Jesus continues His presence among us today but how? Bishop Villegas in his book, Love Like Jesus, gives us a word to describe and to remind us that Christ is very much present even up to today. The word that describes Jesus’ presence is S-W-A-M-P-S.  S – stands for Sacraments. The resurrected Christ is very much present in the Eucharist. Christ is present when we were baptized, confirmed, when a man and woman get married, anointed, or a priest is ordained. The consecrated host that we receive during Communion is not a symbol of His Body but His REAL Body. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then, our Sacraments will be meaningless because He will not have any power to live among us.  W – stands for Word of God. The Word of God is living and true. That is why St. Peter exclaimed to the Lord: “Lord, to whom shall we go, YOU have the word of everlasting life.” Every time we read the Scriptures or this is read during Mass and other religious activities, it is Christ who becomes present.  A – stands for Assembly, because the Lord said: “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.” When we gather, just like during Mass celebration, Jesus is present not only in His words and minister, he is present in the Church’s assembly because we gather in His name.  M – stands for Minister. Christ is present in the bishop and in the priest, as well as in deacon. Christ is present in the catechist and other ministers of those who serve God through other people. Christ is present in a special way in the ordain minister. Sorry to tell you, if you don’t like your priest but God has chosen this person to become His priest.  P – stands for prayer. Christ is present not only when we assemble in a community. Christ is present when we pray quietly. He is present in our solitude, when we meditate and contemplate and when we face to face with God.  S – stands for Service. Service is love. Service is forgiveness because the Lord said; “Whatever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters you do to me.” It is because every person is created in the image and likeness of God. So, what we do to the least, the lost and the last, we do to God.   Therefore, don’t forget this word SWAMPS in this Easter Sunday which stands for Sacrament, Word of God, Assembly, Minister, Prayer and Service.   I wish you all, and all your dear and near ones, a Blessed Easter Sunday. May the Risen Lord bless all of us, our families and the whole world today.  Fr. Thomas A. Sebastian 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

March 29, Sunday Message: Fifth Sunday of Lent: John 11:1-45

In our Gospel today (John 11:1-45), Jesus went to the house of His close friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. On the road, He knew already that Lazarus got sick. When He arrived, Lazarus was already dead for four days. He cried when He saw Martha and Mary crying. Most especially He cried when Martha said to Him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” (v. 21). It is because this shows Martha’s failing confidence and trust in the Lord.

 

Why is death so frightening? In fact, death is the way towards eternal life. This is what we believe. This is what our gospel is telling us today. We do not celebrate death. What we celebrate is life. Even in funeral masses, we are celebrating life and not death.

 

What is death? There are five definitions: First, is the biological and medical definition of death. Death is the moment at which irreversible destruction of brain matter, with no possibility of regaining consciousness. The moment at which spontaneous heart beat could not be restored, as established by ECG (Electrocardiogram). Or it is the moment of “brain death” as established by the EEG (electro-encephalogram).

 

Second, is the traditional understanding of death. Traditionally, death has been understood as the ‘break’ between the physical body and the soul. It is a ‘break’ with this world including one’s family and friends. It is an event over which man can only passively accept and over which he has absolutely no control.

 

Third, is the magisterial definition of death. Death is a consequence of sins. This magisterial definition is based on the book of Genesis 2-3 (the sin of our parents) and the letter of St. Paul to the Romans 5:12-14; 3:21; 6:23. Death is a moment where a spiritual element, endowed with consciousness and will, survive after death.

 

Fourth, is the modern theologian’s definition of death. For Karl Rahner, that it is a period of final decision where a person makes a final choice to accept or reject Christ or God. According to S. Boros, that it is not just adults but infants too would be able to make their decision in full liberty and knowledge at the moment of death.

 

Fifth, is the experiential definition of death. Why death is frightening? “Maybe because every time that this enters into our mind,” Fr. Celso Godillano, SSP said in his homily, “we think that all the beautiful things in our lives will come to an end”. For example, we will be separated from our loved ones and they will forget us completely after death. Plans, ambitions and dreams will not be fulfilled. We are afraid because we don’t know what will happen to us in the other life. No one who went there came back to tell us the image of heaven and hell. Nobody would like to accept that we would die. We want to live forever. Yes, we can live forever but not in this world but beyond this world.

 

So, Jesus entered the scene saying: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me even if he dies will live,” (v.25). In other words, we have to die in order to have life. We have to die to our sins in order to be forgiven. We have to die of our vices in order to be good and responsible person. We have to die to our anger and hatred in order to make our relationship with the other become better and many more. Death is sacrifice. Death is conversion. Death is change.

 

I wish you all a Blessed Sunday. I keep all of you and your family members in my daily prayers and Holy Mass. Stay healthy and stay home. Hope to see you all soon.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

Palm Sunday - 2020

Today is Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. This is the beginning of Holy Week and this begins with the commemoration of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowds, the people who are looking for the Messiah and upon hearing that Jesus is on His way to their city, they line the streets awaiting His arrival. They were expecting a messianic king who would be the mighty warrior and political savior of their nation. That is why they welcome Him spontaneously and warmly. They spread their cloaks and tree branches on the street. They proclaim that He is “the Son of David,” when Jesus enters their city he rides on a donkey. But five days later, on Good Friday when they saw that nothing happened, they drifted away and these same crowds shout: “Crucify Him!” Why did they change their attitude? If we are honest with our attitude, like the crowds, we change our attitude toward God depending on our convenience. We are obedient on one day and become a betrayer the next day. This Holy Week is a time to remember that God remains faithful despite our inconsistency and unfaithfulness. He waits for the important moment when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

How do we make our Holy Week meaningful? Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD in his homily book, Inquirer Moments, suggested how to make this week, not just an ordinary week, but a meaningful Holy Week. He gave meaning to each letter of the words H-O-L-Y W-E-E-K:

 

H – Stands for Halt! Stop for a while or at least slow down. Take time to rest and relax. Your body needs rest and to find time to be still. Go away and disappear. Rest awhile.

 

O – Stands for Off with your worldly pursuits and concerns. Turn off your cellular phones if you have to, so that you can focus on your spiritual life this week. Forget quotas, forget deadlines and forget performance. Just be. Don’t let the world and its cares disturb the tranquility of your mind and soul this week. Let the world go by and let the Lord take care of everything for once. Surprise yourself.

 

L – Stands for Listen. If you are in the Off or Silent Mode, then you can really listen, pray and meditate. Take time to listen to God and tell Him what’s happening with your life. Allow the Father to wrap His loving arms around your shoulders once again and just listen. Is there something you are missing in your life? Is there something more you need to do in your life?

 

Y – Stands for Yield to God. Let go of your grip on your own life. Be on the lookout for His road signs as your travel on. Listen to His instructions and you will find your way. Better still, let Him do the navigating and the driving.

 

W – Stands for Warm up your Relationships. Take time to allow your loved ones feel that warm-and-sunny-spring you, not the cold-and-cloudy-winter you. Reach out to the people you have taken for granted or left out altogether. Take time to call a friend and use your lifeline or ask for an apology, for help and for suggestions. Call, text, write, smile and hug (may be avoid hugs – it is Coronavirus time). Use anything that will help you repair, restore and revitalize your relationships.

 

E – Stands for Erase the burdens of guilt and sin with a good, honest and humble personal confession to God. Heed God’s call: “Come back to me with all your heart. Don’t let sin keep us apart. Long have I waited for your coming home to me.” In response to God’s love, may we also say to God, especially this week: “Create a clean heart in me, O God. Give back to me the joy of your salvation.”  Take time also to erase hurts, resentments, anger and ill feelings. Forgive people who hurt you and ask for forgiveness from people you have hurt, cheated, used or abused in any way.

 

E – Stands for Express your love. Whatever you do, especially this week, like praying, fasting, works of penance and deeds of charity, let them all be expressions of your love and gratitude to God. Let them be done not out of fear or out of obligation.

 

K – Stands for Kneel down. In humility, kneel down in prayer before God and thank Him for suffering so much, for dying on the cross and for rising again for our salvation. Somebody died for you and me. Let us not allow this week to pass without personally thanking Him. Lastly, our greatest challenge is to live too the paschal mystery of Christ in our day-to-day life.

 

I wish you all a Most Blessed HOLY WEEK. My prayers are always with you. Stay healthy and stay home.

 

Fr. Thomas A. Sebastian

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

3/1/2020

Dear Parishioners,

3rd Sunday of Lent

 

What is the point of Jesus' exchange with the Samaritan woman about water? (John 4:5-42) Water in the arid land was scarce. Jacob's well was located in a strategic fork of the road between Samaria and Galilee. One can live without food for several days, but not without water. Water is a source of life and growth for all living things. When rain came to the desert, the water transformed the wasteland into a fertile field. The kind of water which Jesus spoke about was living, running, fresh, pure water. Fresh water from a cool running stream was always preferred to the still water one might find in a pool or reservoir. When the Israelites complained about lack of water in the wilderness, God instructed Moses to strike the rock and a stream of fresh living water gushed out. (Exodus17:6)

The image of "living water" is used throughout the scriptures as a symbol of God's wisdom, a wisdom that imparts life and blessing to all who receive it. "The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life." (Proverbs 13:14)  "Living water" was also a symbol for the Jews of thirst of the soul for God. The water which Jesus spoke of symbolized the Holy Spirit and His work of recreating us in God's image and sustaining in us the new life which comes from God. The life which the Holy Spirit produces in us makes us a "new creation" in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Do we thirst for God and for the life of the Holy Spirit within us?  Let us pray: Lord Jesus, my soul thirsts for You. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may always find joy in Your presence and take delight in doing Your will.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

2/23/2020

Dear Parishioners,

  7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

What makes a disciple of Jesus Christ different from everyone else? What makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace—treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated—with loving-kindness and mercy. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and give us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace have power to heal and to save from destruction. The Lord Jesus suffered insult, abuse, injustice, and death on a cross for our sake. Scripture tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin and guilt (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7). Since God has been merciful towards us through the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ; we in turn are called to be merciful towards our neighbor, even those who cause us grief and harm.

How can we possibly love those who cause us harm or ill-will? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who believe and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. God knows our sinfulness and weaknesses better than we do, and He assures us of His love, mercy, and help. That is why He freely gives us His power, strength, and gifts so that we may not lack anything we need to do His will and to live as His sons and daughters (2 Peter 1:3). Do we want to grow in our love for God and for our neighbor? Ask the Holy Spirit to purify and transform us in the image of the Father that we may know and live in the joy and freedom of the Gospel. 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

2/16/2020

Dear Parishioners,

 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Jesus made it very clear that the essence of God's law—His commandments and way of life—must be fulfilled. God's law is true and righteous because it flows from His love, goodness, and holiness. It is a law of grace, love, and freedom for us. That is why God commands us to love Him above all else and to follow in the way of His Son, the Lord Jesus who taught us how to love by laying down our lives for one another. Jesus taught reverence and respect for God’s law—reverence for God Himself, reverence for the Lord's Day, reverence or respect for parents, respect for life, for property, for another person's good name, respect for oneself and for one's neighbor lest wrong or hurtful desires master and enslave us. Reverence and respect for God's commandments teach us the way of love—love of God and love of neighbor.

God gives us the grace, help, and strength to love as He loves, to forgive as He forgives, to think and judge as He judges, and to act as He acts with mercy, loving-kindness, and goodness. The Lord loves righteousness and hates wickedness. As His followers we must love His commandments and hate every form of sin and wrong-doing. If we want to live righteously as God desires for us, then we must know and understand the intention of God's commands for us, and decide in our heart to obey the Lord. Do we seek to understand the intention of His law and to grow in wisdom of His ways?  Let us pray: Lord Jesus, begin a new work of love within me. Instill in me a greater love and respect for Your commandments. Give me a burning desire to live a life of holiness and righteousness. Purify my thoughts, desires, and intentions that I may only desire what is pleasing to You and in accord with Your will.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

2/9/2020

Dear Parishioners,

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

What is the significance of Simeon's encounter with the baby Jesus and His mother in the temple? Simeon was a just and devout man who was very much in tune with the Holy Spirit. He believed that the Lord would return to His temple and renew His chosen people. The Holy Spirit also revealed to him that the Messiah and King of Israel would also bring salvation to the Gentile nations. When Joseph and Mary presented the baby Jesus in the temple, Simeon immediately recognized this humble child of Bethlehem as the fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies, hopes, and prayers. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he prophesied that Jesus was to be "a revealing light to the Gentiles." The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Lord to those who are receptive and eager to receive Him. 

Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and he prophesied to Mary about the destiny of this child and the suffering she would undergo for His sake. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord.  Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and His promises. Jesus promised His disciples that "no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take way.  Ask the Lord to renew our faith in the indwelling presence of His Spirit within us. And give Him thanks and praise for coming to make His home with us. 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

1//2020

Dear Parishioners,

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

John calls Jesus the Lamb of God and thus signifies Jesus' mission as the One who redeems us from our sins. The blood of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12) delivered the Israelites in Egypt from slavery and death. The Lord Jesus freely offered up His life for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 Corinthians 5:7). The blood which He poured out for us on the cross cleanses, heals, and frees us from our slavery to sin, and from the "wages of sin which is death" (Romans 6:23) and the "destruction of both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10:28). It is significant that John was the son of Zachariah, a priest of Israel who participated in the daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29). John recognized that Jesus was the perfect unblemished lamb offered by the Father in heaven as the one and only sacrifice that could cancel the debt of sin, and free us from death and the destruction of body and soul in hell. 

When John says he did not know Jesus (John 1:31,33), he was referring to the hidden reality of Jesus' divinity. But the Holy Spirit in that hour revealed to John Jesus' true nature, such that John bore witness that this is the Son of God. How can we be certain that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of the living God? The Holy Spirit makes the Lord Jesus Christ known to us through the gift of faith. God gives us His Spirit as our helper and guide who opens our hearts and minds to receive and comprehend the great mystery and plan of God—to unite all things in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Do we want to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ? Ask the Lord to pour His Holy Spirit upon us to deepen our faith, hope, and love for God and for the plan He has for our lives.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

1/12/2020

Dear Parishioners,

The Baptism of the Lord

Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John's baptism at the River Jordan? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3).  In this humble submission of Jesus, we see a foreshadowing of the "baptism" of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus' baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God's suffering Servant (Isaiah 42:1-4). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father's will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too, was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan river. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation.

The Lord Jesus is ever ready to renew and refashion us in his likeness through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit - and he anoints us for mission as ambassadors of his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17). We are called to be the "light" and “salt" of his kingdom that radiates the beauty and aroma of his mercy and goodness to those around us (Matthew 5:13,15-16). The Lord Jesus wants his love and truth to shine through us that many others may find new life, freedom, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill us with his Holy Spirit that we may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around us. 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

12/22/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Advent 4th Sunday (A)

Mary had to face an enormous challenge to her faith and trust in God and to the faith of her family and Joseph, the man she chose to marry. It had never been heard of before that a child could be born without a natural father. Mary was asked to accept this miraculous exception to the laws of nature. That required faith and trust in God and in His promises. Second, Mary was not yet married. Pregnancy outside of wedlock was not tolerated in those days. Mary was only espoused to Joseph, and such an engagement had to last for a whole year. She was asked to assume a great risk. She could have been rejected by Joseph, by her family, by all her own people. Mary knew that Joseph and her family would not understand without revelation from God. She nonetheless believed and trusted in God's promises. 

Joseph, a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass or punish his espoused wife, Mary, when he discovered that she was pregnant. Joseph no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger. God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah. Like Mary, Joseph is a model of faith for us. He is a faithful witness and servant of God's unfolding plan of redemption. Are we ready to believe in the promises of God, even when faced with perplexing circumstances and what seems like insurmountable problems? Let us celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, with joyful hearts and let us renew our faith and hope in God and in his redeeming work.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

1/5/2020

Dear Parishioners,

The Epiphany of the Lord

 

In their thirst for knowledge of God, the wise men from the East willingly left everything, their home and country, in pursuit of that quest. In their diligent search they were led to the source of true knowledge - to Jesus Christ, the Light and Wisdom of God. When they found the newborn King they humbly worshiped him and gave him gifts fitting for a king. The Lord of the universe who revealed the star of Bethlehem to the Gentiles of the East so they could come and worship Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and King of Kings (Revelations 19:16), gives each one of us the same light of revelation to recognize and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

 

Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. It is through the help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and opens the eyes of the mind, that we are able to understand, accept, and believe the truth which God has revealed to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. In faith, the human will and intellect cooperate with grace. To know and to encounter Jesus Christ is to know God personally. In the encounter of the wise men with Jesus we see the plan of God to give his only Son as King and Savior, not just for the Jewish people but for all the nations as well. The Lord Jesus came that both Jew and Gentile might find true and lasting peace with God.  Let us pray today that Jew and Gentile alike will find the Lord and Savior on their journey of life. Do we bring the light of Jesus Christ to those we meet through the witness of our life and testimony? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

12/8/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Advent 4th Sunday (A)

Mary had to face an enormous challenge to her faith and trust in God and to the faith of her family and Joseph, the man she chose to marry. It had never been heard of before that a child could be born without a natural father. Mary was asked to accept this miraculous exception to the laws of nature. That required faith and trust in God and in His promises. Second, Mary was not yet married. Pregnancy outside of wedlock was not tolerated in those days. Mary was only espoused to Joseph, and such an engagement had to last for a whole year. She was asked to assume a great risk. She could have been rejected by Joseph, by her family, by all her own people. Mary knew that Joseph and her family would not understand without revelation from God. She nonetheless believed and trusted in God's promises. 

Joseph, a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass or punish his espoused wife, Mary, when he discovered that she was pregnant. Joseph no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger. God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah. Like Mary, Joseph is a model of faith for us. He is a faithful witness and servant of God's unfolding plan of redemption. Are we ready to believe in the promises of God, even when faced with perplexing circumstances and what seems like insurmountable problems? Let us celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, with joyful hearts and let us renew our faith and hope in God and in his redeeming work.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

12/8/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Advent 2nd Sunday (A)

John the Baptist's life was fueled by one burning passion: to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of His kingdom. Who is John the Baptist and what is the significance of his message for our lives? Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15) by Christ Himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, John leapt in her womb as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). Like the prophets of the Old Testament, John devoted his entire life to prayer and the word of God. He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he was tested and grew in the word of God. John's clothing was reminiscent of the prophet Elijah (Kings 1:8). The Holy Spirit prepared John for the mission entrusted to him as forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our salvation (John 1:1,14).

John's baptism was for repentance, turning away from sin and taking on a new way of life according to God's word. Our baptism in Jesus Christ by water and the Spirit results in a new birth and entry into God's kingdom as His beloved sons and daughters (John 3:5). The Lord Jesus gives us the fire of His Spirit so that we may radiate the joy and truth of the Gospel to a world in desperate need of God's light and truth. His word has power to change and transform our lives that we may be lights pointing others to Christ. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do we point others to Christ in the way we live, work, and speak?

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

10/13/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The word mercy literally means "sorrowful at heart". But mercy is something more than compassion. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer. But mercy goes further—it removes suffering. A merciful person shares in another's misfortune and suffering as if they were his or her own. What is the significance of these ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) asking for mercy? They know that they are in need of healing, not just physical, but spiritual healing as well. They approach Jesus with contrition and faith because they believe that He can release the burden of guilt and suffering and make restoration of body and soul possible. Their request for mercy is both a plea for pardon and for release from suffering. Jesus gives mercy to all who ask with faith and contrition. 

Why did only one leper out of ten return to show gratitude? Gratefulness, another word which expresses gratitude of heart and a thankful disposition, is related to grace. Gratitude is the homage of the heart which responds with graciousness in expressing an act of thanksgiving. The Samaritan approached Jesus reverently and gave praise to God. If we do not recognize and appreciate the mercy and help shown to us, we will be ungrateful and unkind towards others. Ingratitude is forgetfulness or a poor return for kindness received. Ingratitude easily leads to lack of charity and intolerance towards others, as well as to other vices, such as complaining, grumbling, discontentment, pride, and presumption. How often have we been ungrateful to our parents, teachers, and neighbors? Do we express gratitude to God for His abundant help and mercy towards us, and are we gracious, kind, and merciful towards our neighbors in their time of need and support? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

10/27/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Proverbs 3:34) Jesus reinforced this warning with a vivid story of two people at prayer (Luke 18:9-14). Jesus' parable speaks about the nature of prayer and our relationship with God. He does this by contrasting two very different attitudes towards prayer. The Pharisee, who represented those who take pride in their religious practices, exalted himself at the expense of others. Absorbed with his own sense of self-satisfaction and self-congratulation, his boastful prayer was centered on his good religious practices rather than on God's goodness, grace, and pardon. Rather than humbling himself before God and asking for God's mercy and help, this man praised himself while despising those he thought less worthy. The tax collector, who represented those despised by religious-minded people, humbled himself before God and begged for mercy. His prayer was heard by God because he had true sorrow for his sins. He sought God with humility rather than with pride. 

This parable presents both an opportunity and a warning. Pride leads to self-deception and spiritual blindness. True humility helps us to see ourselves as we really are in God's eyes, and it inclines us to seek God's help and mercy. God dwells with the humble of heart who recognize their own sinfulness and who acknowledge God's mercy and saving grace: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit. (Isaiah 57:15) God cannot hear us if we boast in ourselves and despise others. Do we humbly seek God's mercy, and do we show mercy to others, especially those we find difficult to love and to forgive? 

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

11/24/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

What is the significance and meaning of Jesus' kingship for us? Kingship today seems outdated and useless, especially in democratic societies where everyone is supposed to be free and treated equally. The Jews understood that the Messiah ("Anointed One") would come as God's anointed King to restore paradise and establish God's reign of peace for them. They wanted a Messianic King who would free them from strife and division and from foreign oppression. Many had high hopes that Jesus would be the Messiah and Ruler for Israel. Little did they understand what kind of kingship Jesus claimed to possess.

 

Jesus came to deliver His people, and the whole world, from the worst kind of tyranny possible— from bondage to sin, guilt and condemnation, and from the wages of sin which is death. (Romans 6:23) Jesus came to conquer hearts and souls for an imperishable kingdom—a kingdom ruled not by force or fear, but by the power of God's righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17) Jesus died not only as King of the Jews, but as King of all nations and Lord of the universe. His victory over the power of sin, Satan, and the world was accomplished through His atoning death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day. In the Book of Revelation Jesus is called King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:16) He now sits in glory at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and, from His throne, He rules as Lord over all.  Do we recognize Jesus Christ as our Sovereign King and Redeemer?

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

10/06/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

How strong is our faith in God and how can we grow in it? Faith is not something vague, uncertain, undefinable, or something which requires a leap of the imagination or worse, some kind of blind allegiance. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Faith is a response of trust and belief in what is reliable, truthful, certain, and real. To have faith is to believe and trust in someone or something. We believe in the power of electricity even though we can't visibly see it with the naked eye.  We know we can tap into that power and use it to do things we could not do by our own human power. Faith in God works in a similar way. Jesus is God's visible proof that His word is reliable and true—His love is unfailing and unconditional—and His power is immeasurably great and unlimited.

 

What did Jesus mean when He said to His disciples that our faith can move trees and mountains as well? (Luke 17:5-6) The term "mountain remover" was used for someone who could solve great problems and difficulties. What appears impossible to human power is possible to those who believe in God's power. Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand His truth, and to live in the power of His love. God expects more from us than we can simply do by ourselves. That is why Jesus gives us the gift and power of the Holy Spirit who helps us to grow strong in faith, persevere in hope, and endure in love. For our faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and with obedience—an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever He commands. Do we trust in the grace and strength which God freely gives to help us resist temptation and to overcome obstacles in doing his will?

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

9/28/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

What most absorbs our time, our attention, and our heart? In the parable of the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) who refused to help the beggar named Lazarus, Jesus paints a dramatic scene of contrasts: riches and poverty, heaven and hell, compassion and indifference, inclusion and exclusion. We also see an abrupt and dramatic reversal of fortune. Lazarus was not only poor and a beggar, he was also sick and unable to fend for himself.  He was "laid" at the gates of the rich man's house. The dogs which licked his sores probably also stole the little bread he got for himself. The rich man treated the beggar with contempt and indifference, until he found his fortunes reversed at the end of his life!

 

In God's economy, those who hold on possessively to what they have lose it all in the end, while those who share generously receive back many times more than they gave away. The name Lazarus means God is my help. Despite a life of misfortune and suffering, Lazarus did not lose hope in God. His eyes were set on a treasure stored up for him in heaven. The rich man, however, could not see beyond his material wealth and possessions. He was too absorbed in what he possessed to notice the needs of those around him. He lost sight of God and the treasure of heaven because he was preoccupied with seeking happiness in material things. He served wealth rather than God. In the end the rich man became a beggar! Let us pray today: “Lord Jesus, You are my joy and my treasure. Make me rich in the things of Your heavenly kingdom and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others the spiritual and material treasures You have given to me.”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

9/22/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

What is the point of Jesus' parable of the rich man and the steward? (Luke 16:1-13) Jesus did not praise the steward for his dishonest behavior but for his shrewd foresight in relieving the debts of others whom he believed would, in turn, treat him as a friend and show him mercy, kindness, and generosity in his time of need and great want. Jesus immediately followed this parable with an exhortation to His followers to make use of the world's material goods, including "tainted money," to relieve those who are indebted to us for the material and physical help we give them in their time of need and want. In the Scriptures generous giving is connected with alms giving—the sharing of our financial and material resources with those in need. (Luke 12:33) Those who receive alms become our friends because we are merciful to them in their time of need. And God who sees all, rewards those who are generous in helping others.

 

What is the enemy of generosity? It's greed, the excessive desire for personal gain and security. However, we do not need to be afraid for true generosity does not impoverish the giver, but enriches that person a hundredfold! Our money, time, and possessions are precious resources and gifts from God. We can guard them jealously for ourselves alone or allow the love of the Lord to guide us in making good use of them for the benefit of others, especially those in need. Ask the Lord to fill our hearts with a spirit of generosity and joy in sharing what we have with others. Let us pray:” Lord Jesus, all that I have is a gift from You. May I love You freely and generously with all that I possess. Help me to be a wise and faithful steward of the resources you put at my disposal, including the use of my time, money, health and possessions. Amen.”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

9/15/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Luke in his Gospel account tells us that "tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus speak." (Luke 15:1) Wealthy tax collectors were despised by the Jews because they often forced the people to pay much more than was due. And sinners, like prostitutes and adulterers, were a scandal to public decency. The scribes and Pharisees took great offense at Jesus because He went out of His way to meet with tax collectors and public sinners and He treated them like they were His friends. The Pharisees had strict regulations to avoid all contact with them, lest they incur ritual defilement. They were quite shocked to see Jesus speaking with sinners and even going to their homes to eat with them.

Why were many tax collectors and sinners drawn to Jesus? Jesus offered them forgiveness, mercy, and healing and the promise of full restoration with God the Father and the whole community of heaven—God's kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. When the Pharisees began to question Jesus' motive and practice of associating with sinners of ill-repute, Jesus responds by giving them a three-fold lesson in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. (Luke 15:4-32) God the Father always rejoices in searching out those who have strayed, and He welcomes them home with open arms. Do we know the joy of our heavenly Father who welcomes us home to His kingdom of everlasting righteousness, peace, and joy? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

9/8/ 2019

Dear Parishioners,

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:27)

Jesus willingly embraced the cross, not only out of obedience to His Father's will, but out of a merciful love for each one of us in order to set us free from slavery to sin and everything that would keep us from His love, truth, and goodness. Jesus knew that the cross was the Father's way for Him to achieve victory over sin and death—and glory for our sake as well. He counted the cost and said 'yes' to His Father's will. If we want to share in His glory and victory, then we, too, must 'count the cost' and say 'yes’ to His call to "take up our crosses and follow Him." 

What is the 'way of the cross' for us today? It means that when our will crosses with God's will, then His will must be done. The way of the cross involves sacrifice, the sacrifice of laying down our life each and every day for Jesus' sake. What makes such sacrifice possible and "sweet" for us is the love of God poured out for us in the blood of Christ who cleanses us and makes us a new creation in Him. Paul the Apostle tells us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:5) Do we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and transform our lives with the overflowing love and mercy of God? Jesus challenges His disciples to examine who and what they love first and foremost. If we choose  the Lord Jesus and put our trust in Him, He will show us the path that leads to true joy and happiness with our Father in heaven.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

9/1// 2019

Dear Parishioners,

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

What is true humility and why should we make it a characteristic mark of our lives and actions? True humility is not feeling bad about ourselves, or having a low opinion of ourselves, or thinking of ourselves as inferior to others. True humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves, whereas a low self-opinion tends to focus our attention on ourselves. Humility is truth in self-understanding and truth in action. Viewing ourselves truthfully, with sober judgment, means seeing ourselves the way God sees us (Psalm 139:1-4). A humble person makes a realistic assessment of himself or herself without illusion or pretense to be something he or she is not. The humble regard themselves neither smaller nor larger than they truly are. A humble person does not have to wear a mask or put on a facade in order to look good to others, especially to those who are not really familiar with that person. The humble are not influenced by accidentals, such as fame, reputation, success, or failure. 

Humility is the queen or foundation of all the other virtues because it enables us to view and judge ourselves correctly. Humility leads to true self-knowledge, honesty, realism, strength, and dedication to give ourselves to something greater than ourselves. Paul the Apostle, gives us the  greatest example and model of humility in the person of Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, ...who humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). The Lord Jesus gives grace to those who seek Him humbly. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, You became a servant for my sake to set me free from the tyranny of sin, selfishness, and conceit. Help me to be humble as You are humble and to love freely and graciously all whom You call me to serve.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

8/23/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Jesus warns us that we can be excluded from God’s Kingdom if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door. (Luke 13:23) What did Jesus mean by this expression? The door which Jesus had in mind was Himself: I am the door; if any one enters by Me, he will be saved. (John 10:9) God sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to open the way for us to have full access to the throne of God's grace and mercy. Through Jesus' victory on the cross, He has freed us from slavery to sin and hurtful desires and addictions, and He has made us sons and daughters of God and citizens of His heavenly kingdom. We are free now to choose which kingdom we will serve: the kingdom of truth and light ruled by God's wisdom, or the kingdom of falsehood and darkness ruled by Satan and the world’s system.

If we want to enter God's kingdom and receive our full inheritance which is stored up for us in heaven, then we must follow the Lord Jesus in His way of the cross through a willing renunciation of our own will for His will—our own life for His life—our own way for His way. To enter the kingdom of God we must struggle against every force or power of opposition, even the temptation to remain indifferent, apathetic, or compromising in our faith and personal trust in Jesus, our hope in holding firm to the promises of Jesus, and our uncompromising love for God above all else. The Lord reminds us that when we face difficulties, trials, temptations, and even failures, we do not struggle alone. He knows our weaknesses even better than we know them, and He is always ready to help us in our struggle to overcome sin and wrong-doing. God's grace is sufficient!

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

8/18/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Why did Jesus link fire from heaven with costly division on the earth? (Luke 12:49-53) Did He expect His followers to take His statement of "father against son and son against father" and "mother against daughter and daughter against mother" literally? Or was He intentionally using a figure of speech to emphasize the choice and cost of following Him above all else? Jesus used a typical Hebrew hyperbole (a figure of speech which uses strong language and exaggeration for emphasis) to drive home an important lesson. We often do the same when we want to emphasize something very strongly. Jesus' hyperbole, however, did contain a real warning that the Gospel message does have serious consequences for our lives. When Jesus spoke about division within families, He likely had in mind the prophecy of Micah: a man's enemies are the men of his own household. (Micah 7:6) The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Jesus Christ, a loyalty that takes precedence over every other relationship. To place any relationship above God is a form of idolatry. 

Jesus challenges His disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that His disciples give Him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel us to put God first in all we do? (2 Corinthians 5:14) Let us Pray: “Lord Jesus, may the fire of Your love consume me and transform my life that I may truly desire nothing more than life with You. Fill me with the power of Your Holy Spirit that I may always seek to please You and do Your will.”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

8/11/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

What is the meaning of the parable of the master who returns from a wedding feast to his home in the middle of the night (Luke 12:35-40)? The door to one's house in the ancient world was usually bolted from the inside, especially at night to keep out thieves and troublemakers. It was not possible to enter from the outside without help from someone inside. Domestic servants who knew their master's voice were expected to be always vigilant and prepared to unbolt the door and let him in without a moment's delay. This required an attentive watchfulness and listening ear for any sign of the master's approach. No distraction, not even sleep, could be allowed to interfere with the preparation for the master's return. If the servants failed to hear the voice of their master's return, they literally shut him out since he could not unbolt the door from the outside.  Their failure to welcome and serve the master on his return brought shame and dishonor and even punishment.

If the Lord Jesus knocked on our door today, would we be ready and eager to receive Him? He wants us to be prepared for His coming: today, tomorrow, at the hour of our death, and when he comes again at the end of this present world to judge all the living and the dead. The Lord will reward those who have believed in Him. The Lord Jesus knocks on the door of our heart each and every day. Do we listen to His word and receive it with trust and joy? The Lord calls to each one of us and He says, "Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in and we will feast together" (Revelation 3:20). Do we hunger for the Lord and for the treasure of His kingdom? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

8/4/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

The Ten Commandments were summarized into two prohibitions do not worship false idols and do not covet what belongs to another. It's the flip side of the two Great Commandments: love God and love your neighbor. Jesus warned the man who wanted half of his brother's inheritance to "beware of all covetousness." To covet is to wish to get wrongfully what another possesses or to begrudge what God has given to another. Jesus restates the commandment "do not covet," but He also states that a person's life does not consist in the abundance of his or her possessions. Jesus reinforces His point with a parable about a foolish rich man (Luke 12:16-21). Why does Jesus call this wealthy landowner a fool? Jesus does not fault the rich man for his industriousness and skill in acquiring wealth, but rather for his egoism and selfishness: it's mine, all mine, and no one else's. This parable is similar to the parable of the rich man who refused to give any help to the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

The rich fool had lost the capacity to be concerned for others. His life was consumed with his possessions and his only interests were in himself. His death was the final loss of his soul! What is Jesus' lesson on using material possessions? It is in giving that we receive. Those who are rich towards God receive ample reward: not only in this life, but in eternity as well. Let this be our prayer today: “Lord Jesus, free my heart from all possessiveness and from coveting what belongs to another. May I desire you alone as the one true treasure worth possessing above all else. Help me to make good use of the material blessings you give me that I may use them generously for your glory and for the good of others.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

7/28/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Do we pray with joy and confidence? The Jews were noted for their devotion to prayer. Formal prayer was prescribed for three set times a day. And the Rabbis had a prayer for every occasion. It was also a custom for Rabbis to teach their disciples a simple prayer they might use on a regular basis. Jesus' disciples ask Him for such a prayer (Luke 11:1-4). When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He gave them the disciple's prayer, what we call the Our Father or Lord's Prayer. What does Jesus' prayer tell us about God and about ourselves? First, it tells us that God is both Father in being the Creator and Author of all that He has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and He is eternally Father by His relationship to His only begotten Son who, reciprocally is Son only in relation to His Father (Matthew 11:27). In the Lord Jesus Christ, we are spiritually reborn and made new, and we become the adopted children of God (John 1:12-13; 3:3).

Jesus teaches us to address God as "our Father" and to confidently ask Him for the things we need to live as His sons and daughters. We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because Jesus Christ has opened the way to heaven for us through His atoning death and resurrection. When we ask God for help, He fortunately does not give us what we deserve. Instead, He responds with grace and mercy. He is kind and forgiving towards us, and He expects us to treat our neighbor the same way.  Jesus' prayer includes a petition that we must ask God to forgive us in proportion as we forgive those who have wronged us (Matthew 6:14-15). God's grace frees us from every form of anger, resentment, envy, and hatred. Are we ready to forgive others as the Lord Jesus forgives us?

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

7/14/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

What is the significance of Jesus appointing seventy disciples to the ministry of the word of God? Seventy was a significant number in biblical times. Moses chose seventy elders to help him in the task of leading the people through the wilderness. The Jewish Sanhedrin, the governing council for the nation of Israel, was composed of seventy members. In Jesus' times seventy was held to be the number of nations throughout the world. Jesus commissioned the seventy to a two-fold task -  to speak in his name and to act with his power. Jesus gave his disciples instructions for how they were to carry out their ministry. They must go and serve as people without guile, full of charity and peace, and simplicity. They must give their full attention to the proclamation of God's Kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things. They must travel light - only take what was essential and leave behind whatever would distract them - in order to concentrate on the task of speaking the word of the God.

Why does Jesus tell his disciples to not take joy in their own successes, even spiritual ones? Jesus makes clear that the true source of our joy is God, and God alone. Regardless of the circumstances, in good times and bad times, in success or loss, God always assures us of victory in Jesus Christ. Jesus assures his disciples that he has all power over evil, including the power of Satan and the evil spirits who conspire against us. In fact, that is why Jesus came into the world to overthrow the evil one (John 12:31). We, too, as disciples of Jesus have been given spiritual authority and power for overcoming the works of darkness and evil (1 John 2:13-14). Do we witness the truth and joy of the Gospel by word, deed and good example to those around us? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

6/28/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

13th Sunday (C)

 

When Jesus calls us to follow Him He gives us the grace to put aside everything that might keep us from doing His will. Loyalty to Jesus requires sacrifice, letting go of my will for God's will. A would-be disciple responded by saying, I must first go and bury my father, that is, go back home and take care of him until he dies.   Jesus certainly did not mean that we should refuse to care for others, especially our parents in their old age. His startling statement, however, made clear that God must always be first in our lives. If we love Him above all, then everything else will fall into its proper place and time.

Jesus surprised His disciples by telling them that they must not look back but keep their focus on the goal set for their lives--full happiness and union with God. A plowman who looked back caused his furrow to be crooked. Likewise, if we keep looking back to what we left behind, our path in following God will likely go off course, and we will miss what God has for us. When the going is rough or the way ahead looks uncertain, we are tempted to look back to the "good old days" or to look for "greener turf". Are we resolved to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and to "stay the course" in following Him to the end? Let us pray: “Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me. I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace. With these, I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more. Amen.”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

6/23/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

Corpus Christi

 

Jesus' feeding of the five thousand is a sign of God's generous care and provision for His people. When God gives, He gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves so that we may have something to share with others, especially those in need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Jesus' feeding of the five thousand points to the superabundance of the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. Jesus made Himself an offering and sacrifice, a perfect gift that was truly pleasing to the Father in heaven. Jesus established the Lord's Supper and Eucharist as a memorial of His death and resurrection and He commanded His disciples to celebrate it until His return again in glory. 

When we receive from the Lord's table, we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in His body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the "one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ" (Ad Eph. 20:2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward. When we approach the Table of the Lord, we receive healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for our souls. The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Let us pray:” Lord Jesus, You nourish and sustain us with Your very own presence and life. You are the ‘Bread of Life’ and the ‘Cup of Salvation’. May I always hunger for You and be satisfied in You alone. Amen”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

6/16/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

Pentecost Sunday

Do we know and experience in our own life the gift and power of the Holy Spirit? After his death and resurrection, Jesus promised to give his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. He said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (John 20:22) Jesus knew that his disciples would need the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission entrusted to them. The gift of the Holy Spirit was conditional upon the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father. That is why Jesus instructed the apostles to “wait in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Why did they need “power from on high”? The Gospels tell us that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit when he was baptized at the Jordan River: "And John bore witness, 'I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him... this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit'" (+Mark 1:8).

Just as Jesus was anointed with the Spirit at the beginning of his ministry, so the disciples needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission entrusted to them by Jesus. The Holy Spirit is given to all who are baptized into Jesus Christ to enable us to live a new way of life - a life of love, peace, joy, and righteousness (Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:7), and he gives us the strength and courage we need in order to live as faith-filled disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and enables us to grow in spiritual freedom - freedom from doubt, fear, and from slavery to our unruly desires (Romans 8:21). The Spirit instructs us in the ways of God, and guides us in living according to God's will. The Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness. Isaiah foretold the seven-fold gifts that the Spirit would give: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the gift of Pentecost and for the new life you offer in the Holy Spirit. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and set our heart ablaze with the fire of your love that we may serve you in joy and freedom.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

6/16/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

The Most Holy Trinity

Jesus made a claim which only God can make--He knows all things—the present and the past, as well as the future. Jesus not only claims to speak the truth, He calls Himself the very source of truth when He proclaims that He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Now Jesus promises to send His disciples the Spirit of Truth who will guide them in understanding all that Jesus came to say and do! Jesus tells His disciples that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to reveal what is true. It is through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit, who enlightens our hearts and minds, that we come to understand that the Godhead is a trinity of persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus reveals the true nature of God the Father in an unheard of sense. He is eternally Father by His relationship to His eternal and only-begotten Son, who, reciprocally, is Son only in relation to His Father (Matthew 11:27). The Spirit, likewise, is inseparably one with the Father and the Son. Jesus reveals the triune nature of God and the inseparable union of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

The mission of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit are the same: to reveal the glory of God and to share that glory with us by uniting us in a community of love with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus tells His disciples that the Spirit will reveal the glory of the Father and the Son and will speak what is true. The ultimate end, the purpose for which God created us, is the entry of God's creatures into the perfect unity of the blessed Trinity. In baptism we are called to share in the life of the Holy Trinity here on earth in faith and, after death, in eternal light. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the Father and the Son to us and who gives us the gift of faith to know and understand the truth of God's word. The Lord Jesus gives us His Holy Spirit as our divine Teacher and Helper that we may grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God. Do we seek the wisdom that comes from above, and do we eagerly listen to God's word and obey it? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

6/2/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

Pentecost Sunday

Do we know and experience in our own life the gift and power of the Holy Spirit? After his death and resurrection, Jesus promised to give his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. He said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (John 20:22) Jesus knew that his disciples would need the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission entrusted to them. The gift of the Holy Spirit was conditional upon the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father. That is why Jesus instructed the apostles to “wait in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Why did they need “power from on high”? The Gospels tell us that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit when he was baptized at the Jordan River: "And John bore witness, 'I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him... this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit'" (+Mark 1:8).

Just as Jesus was anointed with the Spirit at the beginning of his ministry, so the disciples needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission entrusted to them by Jesus. The Holy Spirit is given to all who are baptized into Jesus Christ to enable us to live a new way of life - a life of love, peace, joy, and righteousness (Romans 14:17). The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:7), and he gives us the strength and courage we need in order to live as faith-filled disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and enables us to grow in spiritual freedom - freedom from doubt, fear, and from slavery to our unruly desires (Romans 8:21). The Spirit instructs us in the ways of God, and guides us in living according to God's will. The Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness. Isaiah foretold the seven-fold gifts that the Spirit would give: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the gift of Pentecost and for the new life you offer in the Holy Spirit. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and set our heart ablaze with the fire of your love that we may serve you in joy and freedom.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

5/19/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

5th Sunday of Easter ©

 

There is no greater glory and honor that one can offer than the willing sacrifice of one's life for the sake of another. This is the true nature of love - the total self-giving and free offering of one's life for the good of another. A mother who loves her child will do everything in her power to nurture, protect, and save the life of the child. A soldier devoted to his country's welfare, will endure any hardship and suffering and willingly sacrifice his own life to defend his people. God the Father showed the unfathomable depth of his love and mercy by willingly offering his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. The Lord Jesus died for our sins, to bring us abundant new life in his Spirit, and to restore our nature in the true image and likeness of God. Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment and way of love - not a commandment that replaces the Old Covenant commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself. This new commandment transforms the old commandment with the love and mercy which the Lord Jesus poured out for us on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus proved that love is stronger than death.

The distinctive mark of every disciple and follower of Jesus Christ is love - a love that is ready to forgive and forget past injuries, to heal and restore rather than inflict revenge and injury. The cross of Jesus is the only path to pardon, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Every other way will fail, or fall short of the glory and victory which Jesus Christ has won for us through his death and resurrection. If we embrace his love and truth and allow his Holy Spirit to purify and transform our hearts and minds, then we will find the inner freedom, joy, and strength we need to love without measure, to forgive without limit, and to serve without reward - except that of knowing we are serving the One who wants to be united with us in an unbreakable bond of peace and joy forever. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, your love knows no bounds and surpasses everything I could desire and long for. Fill me with the fire of your love and with the joy of your Holy Spirit that I may freely serve my neighbor with loving-kindness, tenderhearted mercy, and generous care for their well-being. 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

5/26/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

6th Sunday Easter

 

In his farewell discourse Jesus grants peace as his gift to his disciples. What kind of peace does he offer? The peace of Christ is more than the absence of trouble. It includes everything which makes for our highest good. The world's approach to peace is avoidance of trouble and a refusal to face unpleasant things. Jesus offers the peace which conquers our fears and anxieties. Nothing can take us from the peace and joy of Jesus Christ. No sorrow or grief, no danger, no suffering, can make it less. How can we attain the peace which the Lord Jesus offers his followers? Through the gift and work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. The Lord Jesus shows us how to yield our passions of anger, fear, and pride to him so we can receive his gift of peace. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and strengthens us with his gifts and supernatural virtues which enable us to live as wise and holy disciples of Christ. 

Caesarius of Arles (470-542 AD), an early church bishop in Gaul who was noted for his godly wisdom and preaching of Scripture, linked peace with the character of Christ and the Christlike virtues which help us to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Caesarius describes some of the key character traits which form us into true people of peace: Peace, indeed, is serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, the fellowship of charity. It removes hatred, settles wars, restrains wrath, tramples on pride, loves the humble, pacifies the discordant and makes enemies agree. For it is pleasing to everyone. It does not seek what belongs to another or consider anything as its own. It teaches people to love because it does not know how to get angry, or to extol itself or become inflated with pride. It is meek and humble to everyone, possessing rest and tranquility within itself. If anyone loves it, he will be an heir of God, while anyone who despises it rebels against Christ. When our Lord Jesus Christ was returning to the Father, he left his peace to his followers as their inherited good, teaching them and saying, 'My peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you.’ Anyone who has received this peace should keep it, and one who has destroyed it should look for it, while anyone who has lost it should seek it. For if anyone is not found with it, he will be disinherited by the Father and deprived of his inheritance." (Sermon 174.1)

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

5/05/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

3rd Sunday Easter ©

 

Why did Jesus choose to reveal Himself to the apostles at the Sea of Galilee--and right after they had spent a whole night of futile fishing? The Risen Lord was waiting on the shore for Peter and the other apostles. When their boat drew near the shore, Jesus questioned them and then gave a command to lower their nets into the sea. When their nets began to burst at the great catch of fish, John, the beloved disciple, recognized that it was the Lord who was speaking to them. Peter then immediately leaped from the boat and ran to the Lord. Do we run to the Lord Jesus when we meet setbacks and disappointments, and when our faith is being put to the test? The Lord Jesus is always ready to renew us in faith and to give each of us fresh hope in His promises for us.

 

The Lord Jesus calls each one of us, even in our personal struggles, weakness, and sin, to draw near to Him as our merciful Healer and Savior. He invites us to choose Him as our Lord and to love Him above all else. What can hold us back from giving Him our undivided love and unqualified loyalty? Nothing but our own sinful pride and stubborn will and blind fear can hold us back from receiving His gracious forgiveness, loving-kindness, and faithful love. God's abundant grace is a free and unmerited gift, far beyond what we deserve or could possibly hope to obtain through our own means. We can never outmatch God in generosity and goodness. He loved us first and our love for Him is a response to His exceeding grace and mercy. Let us pray: “Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with Your merciful love and remove everything that is unkind, ungrateful, unloving and unholy, and that is not in accord with Your will. May I always seek to love You above all else and follow You wherever You wish to lead me.”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

4/28/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                             2nd Sunday Easter (C)

The Risen Lord Jesus revealed the glory of his resurrection to his disciples gradually and over a period of time. Even after the apostles saw the empty tomb and heard the reports of Jesus' appearance to the women, they were still weak in faith and fearful of being arrested by the Jewish authorities. When Jesus appeared to them he offered proofs of his resurrection by showing them the wounds of his passion, his pierced hands and side. He calmed their fears and brought them peace, the peace which reconciles sinners and makes us friends of God. He commissioned his weak and timid apostles to bring the good news of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This sending out of the disciples is parallel to the sending out of Jesus by his heavenly Father. Jesus fulfilled his mission through his perfect love and obedience to the will of his Father.

The last apostle to meet the resurrected Lord was the first to go with him to Jerusalem at Passover time. When Jesus proposed that they visit Lazarus after receiving news of his illness, Thomas said to the disciples: "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16).
When Thomas recognized his Master after the resurrection of Jesus, he believed and exclaimed that Jesus was truly Lord and truly God! Through the gift of faith, we, too, proclaim that Jesus is our personal Lord and our God. Jesus called his first disciples and he now calls each one of us to do the same. Just as he gave his first disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit, so he breathes on each of us the same Holy Spirit who equips us with new life, power, joy, and courage to live each day as followers of the Risen Lord. Do we believe in the good news of the Gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring us new life, hope, and joy? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

4/21/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                                     Easter Sunday  Easter is a celebration of "new life”!   All creation joins in the celebration. Each Spring we rejoice in the new life of nature bursting forth after the slumber of winter.  And we Christians echo nature in celebrating the "new life" of God’s presence bursting forth among us through the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is raised from the dead!  But not only is Jesus raised from the dead, we are too!  St. Paul could not be more direct in his Letter to the Colossians: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. At Easter we celebrate the historical event of Christ’s resurrection two thousand years ago! But at Easter we also celebrate the “new life” we receive through faith and baptism. Indeed, our celebration becomes significant to the degree that we personally recognize this “new life” within us, those fruits of the Spirit’s presence in our own hearts: charity, joy, peace and patience.  On Easter morning, the stone was rolled back from the mouth of the tomb. Is my heart being like a tomb awaiting resurrection? Can I identify any “gravestone” that is holding me back from a fuller, freer life? It could be an addiction, a compulsion, or some dark secret I have never shared with anyone. We can be sickened by our secrets. But as Pope Francis said, we are meant to be “people of joyful hope, not doomsday prophets!” By trusting in the resurrection of Jesus, we can all find hope and joy, and go out to share them with others. I wish you all a Happy and Blessed Easter!

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

4/14/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                               5th Sunday Lent (C)

 

The Gospel accounts frequently describe how Jesus had to face unjust accusations made by the Scribes and the Pharisees. They were upset with Jesus' teaching, and they wanted to discredit Him in any way they could. They wanted to not only silence Him, but to get rid of Him because of His claim to speak with God's authority. When a moral dilemma or difficult legal question arose, it was typical for the Jews to take the matter to a Rabbi for a decision. The Scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. John writes that they wanted to "test" Jesus on the issue of retribution so " they might have some charge to bring against Him" (John 8:6). Jewish law treated adultery as a serious crime since it violated God's ordinance and wreaked havoc on the stability of marriage and family life. If Jesus said the woman must be pardoned, He would be accused of breaking the law of Moses. If He said the woman must be stoned, He would lose His reputation for being the merciful friend of sinners.

 

Jesus then does something quite unexpected—He begins to write in the sand. The word for "writing" which is used here in the Gospel text has a literal meaning "to write down a record against someone." Perhaps Jesus was writing down a list of the sins of the accusers standing before Him. Jesus now turns the challenge toward His accusers. In effect, He says: Go ahead and stone her! But let the man who is without sin be the first to cast a stone. The Lord leaves the matter to their own consciences. When the adulterous woman is left alone with Jesus, He both expresses mercy and He strongly exhorts her to not sin again. The scribes wished to condemn; Jesus wished to forgive and to restore the sinner to health. His challenge involved a choice: either to go back to her former way of sin and death or to reach out to God's offer of forgiveness, restoration, and new life in His kingdom of peace and righteousness. Jesus gave her pardon and a new start on life. God's grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is—unfaithfulness to God—and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God's mercy and forgiveness.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

3/31/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                                      4th Sunday Lent (C)

What is worse than being separated from your home, loved ones, and friends? The pain of separation can only be surpassed by the joy of the homecoming and reunion. When God commanded His people to celebrate the Passover annually, He wanted them to never forget what He did for them when He freed them from oppression and slavery in the land of Egypt and brought them back to their promised homeland which He gave as a sign of His immense love and favor (Joshua 5:9-12). Jesus illustrates this Passover from slavery to sin and condemnation to freedom and new life in Christ with the longest parable recorded in the Gospels (Luke 15:11-32). What is the main point of Jesus' story about two ungrateful sons and their extravagant, loving father? Is it the contrast between a grudgingly obedient son and a rebellious son who had wished his father were dead? Or the warm reception given to a spendthrift son and the cold reception given by the eldest son? Jesus does contrast the eldest son's cold and aloof reception for his errant brother with the father's warm embrace and lavish homecoming party for his repentant son, but there is more.

In this parable Jesus gives a vivid picture of God and what God is like. God is truly kinder than any of us. He does not lose hope or give up when we stray from Him. He is always on the lookout for those who have a change of heart and want to return. He rejoices in finding the lost and in welcoming them home. Do we know the joy of repentance and the restoration of relationship as a son or daughter of our heavenly Father? Let us pray: “Lord Jesus, may I never doubt Your love nor take for granted the mercy You have shown to me. Fill me with Your transforming love that I may be as merciful and generous as You are merciful and generous. Amen”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

4/7/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

5th Sunday Lent (C)

 

The Gospel accounts frequently describe how Jesus had to face unjust accusations made by the Scribes and the Pharisees. They were upset with Jesus' teaching, and they wanted to discredit Him in any way they could. They wanted to not only silence Him, but to get rid of Him because of His claim to speak with God's authority. When a moral dilemma or difficult legal question arose, it was typical for the Jews to take the matter to a Rabbi for a decision. The Scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. John writes that they wanted to "test" Jesus on the issue of retribution so " they might have some charge to bring against Him" (John 8:6). Jewish law treated adultery as a serious crime since it violated God's ordinance and wreaked havoc on the stability of marriage and family life. If Jesus said the woman must be pardoned, He would be accused of breaking the law of Moses. If He said the woman must be stoned, He would lose His reputation for being the merciful friend of sinners.

 

Jesus then does something quite unexpected—He begins to write in the sand. The word for "writing" which is used here in the Gospel text has a literal meaning "to write down a record against someone." Perhaps Jesus was writing down a list of the sins of the accusers standing before Him. Jesus now turns the challenge toward His accusers. In effect, He says: Go ahead and stone her! But let the man who is without sin be the first to cast a stone. The Lord leaves the matter to their own consciences. When the adulterous woman is left alone with Jesus, He both expresses mercy and He strongly exhorts her to not sin again. The scribes wished to condemn; Jesus wished to forgive and to restore the sinner to health. His challenge involved a choice: either to go back to her former way of sin and death or to reach out to God's offer of forgiveness, restoration, and new life in His kingdom of peace and righteousness. Jesus gave her pardon and a new start on life. God's grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is—unfaithfulness to God—and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God's mercy and forgiveness.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

3/24/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                                          3rd Sunday Lent (C)

Jesus' parable of the barren fig tree illustrates his warning about the consequences of allowing sin and corruption to take root in our hearts and minds. Fig trees were a common and important source of food for the people of Palestine. A fig tree normally matured within three years, producing plentiful fruit. If it failed, it was cut down to make room for more healthy trees. A decaying fig tree and its bad fruit came to symbolize for the Jews the consequence of spiritual corruption caused by evil deeds and unrepentant sin. The unfruitful fig tree symbolized the outcome of Israel's indifference and lack of response to God's word of repentance and restoration. The prophets depicted the desolation and calamity of Israel's fall and ruin—due to her unfaithfulness to God—as a languishing fig tree (Jeremiah 8:13). Jeremiah likened good and evil rulers and members of Israel to figs that were either good for eating or rotten and wasteful (Jeremiah 24:2-8).

Jesus' parable depicts the patience of God, but it also contains a warning that we should not presume upon God's patience and mercy. God's judgment will come in due course --very soon or later. God, in His mercy, gives us time to get right with Him, but that time is now. We must not assume that there is no hurry. A sudden and unexpected death leaves one no time to prepare to settle one's accounts when he or she must stand before the Lord on the day of judgment. Jesus warns us that we must be ready at all times. Tolerating sinful habits and excusing unrepentant sin and wrongdoing will result in bad fruit, painful discipline, and spiritual disease that leads to death and destruction. The Lord in His mercy gives us both grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a day, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. Do we hunger for the Lord's righteousness and holiness? Let us pray: “Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for You that I may grow in righteousness and holiness. May I not squander the grace of the present moment to say yes to You and to Your will and plan for my life.”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

2nd Sunday Lent ©

 

What can blind us or keep us from recognizing God's glory in our lives? Sin and unbelief of course! Faith enables us to see what is hidden or unseen to the naked eye. Through the eyes of faith Abraham recognized God, and God's call on his life. He saw from afar not only what God intended for him, but for his descendants as well - an everlasting covenant of friendship and peace with the living God (Genesis 15:18). Are we prepared to see God's glory? God is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when the disciples see Jesus transfigured on the mountain. Jesus' face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:2,3). In the Gospel account Jesus appeared in glory with Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and with Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, in the presence of three of his beloved apostles - Peter, James, and John. 

 

Luke's Gospel account tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God's glory and action because we are asleep spiritually?  There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the "unexamined life" can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ.  Prejudice can make us blind to s