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

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

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

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 something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God. Are we spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory.  The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do we seek his presence with faith and reverence? Let us pray: Lord Jesus, keep me always alert to you, to your presence in my life, and to your life-giving word that nourishes me daily. Let me see your glory.

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

3/17/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

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 something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God. Are we spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory.  The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do we seek his presence with faith and reverence? Let us pray: Lord Jesus, keep me always alert to you, to your presence in my life, and to your life-giving word that nourishes me daily. Let me see your glory.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

3/10/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

1st Sunday Lent (C)

 

What lesson can we learn from Jesus' temptation in the wilderness? How can we hope to fight temptation and overcome sin in our own personal lives? When Jesus went out into the wilderness to fight temptation by the devil, He was led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not rely on His own human strength and will-power for overcoming temptation. He relied on the Holy Spirit to give him strength, wisdom, courage, and self-control. The Lord Jesus knows that we cannot fight temptation on our own. We need the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us. The Lord Jesus gives us His Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26) and to be our guide and strength in times of testing (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Lord gives grace to those who humbly acknowledge their dependence on Him (James 4:6) and He helps us to stand firm against the attacks of Satan who seeks to destroy us (Ephesians 6:10-18). The Lord Jesus is ever ready to pour out His Spirit upon us that we may have the courage we need to repent of our sins and to turn away from them, and to reject the lies and deceits of Satan.

The forty days of Lent are the annual retreat of the people of God in imitation of Jesus' forty days in the wilderness. We are called to journey with the Lord in a special season of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, repentance, and renewal as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Easter. The Lord gives us spiritual food and supernatural strength to seek His face and to prepare ourselves for spiritual combat and testing. We, too, must follow in the way of the cross in order to share in the victory of Christ's death and resurrection. As we begin this holy season of preparation and renewal, let's ask the Lord for a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit that we may grow in faith, hope, and love, and embrace His will more fully in our lives. Let us pray: “Lord Jesus, Your word is life and joy for me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may have the strength and courage to embrace Your will in all things and to renounce whatever is contrary to it. Amen”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

3/2/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

 

                                                   What makes Christians different

 

and 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. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saints and sinners alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder it is when we can expect nothing in return!

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 in and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace have power to heal and to save from destruction. That is why Paul the Apostle tells those who know the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to "bless and not curse... nor take revenge... and to overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:14,17,21). Do we know the power of God's love, mercy, and righteousness for overcoming evil with good? Let us pray today: “Lord Jesus, Your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and set my heart free with Your merciful love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.” 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

2/24/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

 

What makes Christians different and 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. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saints and sinners alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder it is when we can expect nothing in return!

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 in and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace have power to heal and to save from destruction. That is why Paul the Apostle tells those who know the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to "bless and not curse... nor take revenge... and to overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:14,17,21). Do we know the power of God's love, mercy, and righteousness for overcoming evil with good? Let us pray today: “Lord Jesus, Your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and set my heart free with Your merciful love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.” 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

2/17/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                             5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

 

                                             Why did Jesus perform the miracle                                          of the great catch of fish? No doubt the great crowd of people who had pressed upon Jesus had something to do with this miracle. They were very hungry for God and were eager to hear His word. Jesus wanted to use this occasion to teach His disciples an important lesson. Although Simon was wearied from a night of fruitless toil, he nonetheless did what the Lord Jesus told him to do: At your word I will let down the nets. When we meet disappointment and failure, do we press upon the Lord, like Simon, to hear His word and to receive His command? This incident tells us an important truth about how God works in and through each of us for His glory. God expects of us greater things than we can do by ourselves. When we cooperate in His works, we accomplish far beyond what we can do on our own.

God chooses ordinary people, like you and me, as His ambassadors, and He uses the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives and work situations to draw others into His kingdom. Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will "catch people" for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the Gospel. Do we witness to those around us the joy of the Gospel and do we pray for our neighbors, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of His love and truth? Let us pray today: “Lord Jesus, fill my heart with love and compassion for those who do not know You or follow You. May I be a good witness of Your truth and salvation to my family, friends, and co-workers.”

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

2/3/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                           4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

 

                                        When Jesus first proclaimed the good                                            news of God's kingdom to his own townspeople at Nazareth (Luke 4:23-27), he did not hesitate to confront them with their sin of indifference and unbelief. He surprised his listeners in the synagogue at Nazareth with a seeming rebuke - that no prophet or servant of God could receive honor among his own people. He then angered them when he complimented Gentiles who had shown more faith in God than the "chosen ones" of Israel. Jesus' praise for "outsiders" offended the ears of his own people because they were blind-sighted to God's merciful plan of redemption for all the nations. The words of rebuke spoken by Jesus were met with indignation and hostility. The Nazarenes forcibly threw him out of their town and would have done him physical harm had he not stopped them. 

 

We all stand in need of God's grace and merciful help every day and every moment of our lives. God gives grace to the humble who seek him with expectant faith and with a repentant heart that wants to be made whole and clean again. The Lord Jesus will set us free from every sinful habit and every harmful way of relating to our neighbor if we allow him to cleanse and heal us. If we want to walk in freedom and grow in love and holiness, then we must humbly renounce our sinful ways and submit to Christ's instruction and healing discipline in our lives. Scripture tells us that the Lord disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness (Hebrews 12:10). Do we want the Lord Jesus to set us free and make us whole again? Ask him to show us the way to walk in his healing love and truth. Let us pray today: Lord Jesus, teach me to love your ways that I may be quick to renounce sin and willfulness in my life. Make me whole and clean again that I may delight to do your will. 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

1/27/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

 

                                                            St. Luke tells us in today’s                                                gospel that Jesus chose to openly announce His mission in the synagogue at Nazareth. The people there were familiar with Jesus since it was His custom to regularly attend the weekly Sabbath service. Jesus was also known by many in Nazareth as a "carpenter" (Mark 6:3) and "son of Joseph" (Luke 4:21). When the president of the synagogue called on Jesus to read from the book of the prophet Isaiah, Jesus chose to read Isaiah's description (Isaiah 61:1-2) of what the Messiah would do when He came to restore God's kingdom for the people of Israel. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."  Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be sent by God and anointed in the power of the Holy Spirit to preach "good news" and bring healing, blessing, and freedom to all who were oppressed.

 

Jesus awakened their hope in God's promises when He announced that this word was now being fulfilled in His very own person. Luke tells us that the people of Nazareth spoke well of Him and received His "gracious word" with amazement and wonder. But they also openly questioned how the "son of Joseph" would fulfill this Messianic mission (Luke 4:21). Jesus challenged them to believe the word God had spoken through the prophets and the word He now spoke in God's name through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks this same word to each of us today; He comes to bring us healing and restoration, pardon and freedom from the oppression of sin, despair, hopelessness, and destruction. The Lord will not refuse to pour out his Spirit on all who trust in Him. Ask the Lord Jesus to renew in us the joy of the Gospel and the freedom to live each day with trusting faith, joyful hope, and ardent love.

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

1/20/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                           2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time ©

 

                                         Do we recognize the glory and                                                       presence of the Lord Jesus in our lives? God often reveals His glory to us in the most improbable of places—in a cold stable at Bethlehem, at a village wedding party in Cana, on a bloody cross at Golgotha, or on the road to Emmaus. In today’s Gospel reading, we see the first public sign and miracle which Jesus performed. The Lord Jesus brought great blessing and joy to a newly-wed couple and their wedding party; first by His presence, and second by saving them from embarrassment when the wine ran out. Changing water into wine was a remarkable act of kindness. In the Old Testament wine is seen as both a gift and blessing of God (Deuteronomy 7:13; Proverbs 3:10, Psalm 105). That Jesus would miraculously produce 120 gallons of the best wine (many times more than needed) shows the superabundance of the blessings which He came to offer. 

This miracle signifies the "new rich wine" of the Gospel and it points to the “wine of the new covenant” and the “bread of life” which Jesus provides for His disciples in the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist. It also points to the Messianic banquet which Jesus will provide at the end of the age when He comes again in His glory. The miracles of Jesus demonstrate the power of God's love and mercy for His people. God's kindness knows no limits. And the ultimate expression of His love is revealed in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. He became flesh for our sake, and He died for our redemption, and He rose that we, too, might be raised up and glorified with Him. Do we thirst for God and for the abundant life and blessings He offers to us? Let us pray today: “Heavenly Father, You have revealed Your glory in our Lord Jesus Christ. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may bring You glory in all that I do and say. 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

1/6/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

 

                                                      The Epiphany of the Lord

 

                                            If Jesus truly is who He claims to be,                                              the eternal Son of God and Savior of the world, then why is He not recognized by everyone who hears His word and sees His works? John the Evangelist states that when Jesus came into the world the world knew Him not and His own people received Him not (John 1:10-11). Jesus was born in obscurity. Only the lowly shepherds recognized Him at His birth. Some wise men 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 fitting 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.  Let Jew and Gentile alike 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 lives 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

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

1/13/  2019

Dear Parishioners,

                                                              The Baptism of the Lord

                                             

 

                                             John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). 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

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

12/16/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

 

3rd Advent

Today, the third Sunday of Advent, God's word introduces us to Jesus Christ's precursor: Saint John the Baptist. God the Father is preparing the arrival, that is, the Advent, of His Son, born of the Virgin Mary, in many different ways, as the beginning of the Letter to the Hebrews, says: Patriarchs, Prophets and Kings prepared Jesus' arrival. We see both genealogies, in Matthew's and Luke's Gospels, Jesus Christ as son of Abraham and son of David. Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah announced His Advent and described the features of His Ministry. But Saint John the Baptist, would be the one to point Him out to the world, and the privilege of Baptizing our Lord went to him. His was to be the very last testimony before Jesus' arrival. And he gave it with his life, with his death and with his word.

John’s birth was also announced, like that of Jesus, and was prepared, as seen in Luke’s Gospel (chapters 1 and 2). And his death, as a martyr, victim of a king's weakness and of a wicked woman's hatred, also prepared the way for that of Jesus. This is why, he receives the most extraordinary praise from Jesus Himself, which can be read in Matthew's and Luke's Gospels, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John”. John, who would have known of all this praise, is however an example of humility: he tells us today, “I am not worthy to untie His sandal” (Lk 3:16). And, according to Saint John, “He must increase while I must decrease”. Let us listen today to his word, exhorting us to share what we have and to respect the justice and dignity everybody deserves. Thus, we shall be preparing ourselves to receive He who is coming to save us and will come again to “judge the living and the dead”.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

12/9/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                      .2nd Sunday Advent

 

                                                                                                                                                             Do we recognize the voice of the Lord speaking to us when we listen to the word of God in Scripture? Luke the evangelist tells us that the "word of God came to John in the wilderness" (Luke 3:2). Who was John the Baptist and what is the significance of the word which he received and delivered to the people of his day? Luke tells us that John was the son of Zechariah, a priest who served in the temple at Jerusalem. John stood at a pivotal juncture in the history of God's dealing with His people. He bridged the Old and New Testaments, also known as the Old and New Covenants, which God made with His people. How did John prepare for the coming of the Anointed (Messiah) King and Savior of the world? Luke tells us that "the word of God came to John" when he was dwelling in the wilderness of Judea (Luke 3:2). John was called from an early age to devote himself to prayer and to the word of God. John was led by the Spirit into a barren and lonely place away from the noise and distractions of everyday life. There God taught John in the solitude of the desert and prepared him for a prophetic ministry that would turn the hearts of His people to receive their long-awaited Messiah. 

How can we, like John the Baptist, prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus Christ, today and every day, and when He comes again to bring us fully into His everlasting kingdom? John the Baptist tells us that the first step is conversion and repentance (Matthew 3:2). Conversion involves receiving God's word into our hearts and minds and allowing His Word to change our attitudes and wrong ways of thinking and judging. Repentance is the deliberate turning away from sin and turning to God to receive His pardon, healing, and strength to do what is good and reject what is wrong. John saw from a distance what Jesus the Messiah would accomplish through His death and resurrection :pardon for our sins, healing and restoration, and eternal life for all who would believe in the Lord Jesus. Are we hungry for the Word of God and do we allow God's word to transform the way we think, speak, and live our lives? "Let us pray: Lord Jesus, You are the Word of God and the Savior of the world. Help me to receive Your Word with expectant faith, and to live it with confident hope, and to proclaim it joyfully with love and boldness to all I meet.” 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

12/2/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                       1st Sunday 

                                                          Advent

Marking the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year, the four weeks of Advent lead us to the celebration of Christmas. Advent’s familiar sights and sounds stir in us a readiness to receive our savior, while sharpening our sense of the world’s need for redemption and of the great mystery of God’s becoming human for us. Advent is a season of wonder. And nothing surprises us more than God’s extravagant giving of gifts. Without even asking, God has given us the gift of life, bestowed on us our unique bodies and minds, our families and situations in which we slowly but surely make our way back to God from whom we have come. But perhaps the biggest surprise of all is the gift God has given us in Jesus, who is God become human. This most surprising gift is the one we concentrate on during our Advent preparation for Christmas.

Advent is from a Latin word meaning the coming or arrival. The season of Advent is a time to prepare to celebrate the three arrivals of Christ: His lowly birth in the past, His mysterious coming to the Christian community in the present, and His promised return as our judge at the end of time. Advent was originally celebrated as a kind of “Lent” during the forty days before the feast of Christmas. Gradually, Advent developed its own distinctive character, retaining a slight penitential dimension but emphasizing our joy-filled hope in the coming of the Lord. Today, these two aspects continue side by side. During the first part of Advent, the prophecies of Isaiah and John the Baptist remind us that we are waiting for God’s coming and need to prepare. During the latter part of the season, the focus shifts more directly on the events leading up to Jesus’ birth. These twin perspectives give richness to our observance of Advent, leading us to introspection and renewal, and to the exuberant joy and celebration of Christmas. I wish you all a blessed and a graceful Advent season.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

11/12/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

                   33rd Sunday (B)

 

 

Jesus came to bring us the kingdom of God and to set us free from bondage to sin, death, destruction and from the powers of evil. What did Jesus mean when He spoke about a time of tribulation, shaking, and the "Son of man coming with great power and glory"? The title Jesus most frequently used to describe His mission was the "Son of Man" (Mark 13:26). The image of a "Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven" is taken from the vision of the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14). Daniel's vision is a royal investiture of a human king before God's throne. This king, whose authority comes from God, is given power to rule over "all peoples, nations, and languages" (Daniel 7:14). The kingdom which he comes to establish cannot be broken or destroyed because it is built on the foundation of God's justice, truth, and holiness. 

Jesus' first coming was a rescue mission  to free the human race from slavery to sin and Satan. His second coming will be the final completion of His mission when He will "make all things new": a new heaven and a new earth, after He has put down the last enemy which is death and restored our lowly bodies to immortality when death will be no more (Daniel 12:2-3). The first coming of the Lord Jesus is inseparably linked with His second coming at the end of this present age. We do not know the day or hour when the Lord will return again in glory. But now, in this present age, we can experience the abundant new life in the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, and the fruits of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) and so many other qualities which the Spirit works within us, thus enabling us to love and serve others with tenderhearted mercy, patience, and goodness. Let us pray today: “Lord Jesus, fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of Your kingdom and the fire of Your love to all I meet and serve. Direct my life to the glory of Your name and to the coming of Your kingdom.” 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

10/11/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                    32nd Sunday (B)

What is true religion and devotion to God? Jesus warns His disciples against the wrong kind of religion. In His denunciation of the scribes (the religious experts of His day), He warns against three things: the desire for prominence and first place of honor rather than lowly service for the benefit of others; the desire for deference and recognition rather than seeking to promote the good of others through humble service and selfless care for others; attempting to use one's position for self-gain and self-advancement. True religion is relating rightly to God and to one's neighbor with love, honor, and respect. The Lord puts His Holy Spirit within us that we may be filled with the joy of His presence, the joy of true worship, and the joy of selfless giving and love for others. True reverence for God frees the heart to give liberally, both to God and to neighbor. 

Jesus taught His disciples a dramatic lesson in generous giving with love and devotion. Love doesn't calculate; it spends lavishly! Jesus drove this point home to His disciples while sitting in the temple and observing people offering their tithes. Jesus praised a poor widow who gave the smallest of coins in contrast with the rich who gave greater sums. How can someone in poverty give more than someone who has ample means? Jesus' answer is very simple: love is more precious than gold! Jesus taught that real giving must come from the heart. The poor widow could have kept one of her coins, but instead she recklessly gave away all she had! Jesus praised someone who gave barely a penny - how insignificant a sum - because it was everything she had, her whole living. What we have to offer may look very small and not worth much, but if we put all we have at the Lord's disposal, no matter how insignificant it may seem, then God can do with it and with us what is beyond our reckoning. Do you know the joy and freedom of giving liberally to God and to neighbor with gratitude and love? Let us pray today: “Lord Jesus, all that I have is Yours. Take my life, my possessions, my time and all that I have and use them as You desire for Your glory.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

11/04/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                                31st Sunday (B)

 

What is the purpose of God's law or commandments? The Pharisees prided themselves in the knowledge of the laws and their ritual requirements. They made it a life-time practice to study the 613 precepts of the Old Testament along with the numerous rabbinic commentaries. They tested Jesus to see if He correctly understood the law as they did. Jesus startled them with His profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. What does God require of us? Simply that we love as He loves! God is love and everything He does flows from His love for us. God loved us first, and our love for Him is a response to His exceeding grace and kindness towards us. The love of God comes first and the love of neighbor is firmly grounded in the love of God. The more we know of God's love and truth, the more we love what He loves and reject what is hateful and contrary to His will. 

What makes our love for God and His commands grow in us? Faith in God and hope in His promises strengthen us in the love of God. They are essential for a good relationship with God, for being united with Him. The more we know of God, the more we love Him, and the more we love Him, the greater we believe and hope in His promises. The Lord, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, gives us a new freedom to love as He loves. Do we allow anything to keep us from the love of God and the joy of serving others with a generous heart?  Paul the Apostle says: hope does not disappoint us because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us (Rom. 5:5). Let us pray with St. Anselm: “We love You, Oh! God; and we desire to love You more and more. Grant to us that we may love You as much as we desire, and as much as we ought. Give us in our hearts pure love, born of Your love to us, that we may love others as You love us. Oh! most loving Father of Jesus Christ, from whom flows all love, let our hearts, frozen in sin, cold to You and cold to others, be warmed by this divine fire. So, help and bless us in Your Son.” 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

10/21/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

28th Sunday (B)

 

                                                 Right after a wealthy young man refused to follow Jesus, Peter, somewhat crudely wanted to know what he and the other disciples would get out of it since they had freely accepted Jesus' offer to follow Him unconditionally (Mark 10:28-30). Jesus spoke with utter honesty: Those who left all for Him would receive a hundred times more now, even in this life, as well as unending life in the age to come. The Gospel presents us with a paradox: we lose what we keep, and we gain what we give away. When we lose our lives for Jesus Christ, we gain a priceless treasure and an inheritance which lasts forever. Whatever we give to God comes back a hundredfold. Generosity flows from a heart full of gratitude for the abundant mercy and grace which God grants. And generosity will be amply repaid, both in this life and in the life to come (Luke 6:38). 

What's the best investment you can make with your life now and the future? Jesus offers us an incomparable treasure which no money can buy and no thief can steal. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. Material wealth will shackle us to this earth unless we guard our hearts and set our treasure on God and his everlasting kingdom. No earthly reward or treasure can outmatch the joy and bliss of knowing God's love, mercy, and peace and the joy of knowing that our names are written in heaven where we will dwell with God forever. Where is our treasure? Do we know the joy of the Lord and the treasure He has stored up for us in heaven? Let us pray today: Lord Jesus, You have captured our hearts and opened to us the treasures of heaven. May you always be my treasure and delight and may nothing else keep me from giving You my all.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

10/14/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

27th Sunday (B)

What is God's intention for our state in life, whether married or single? Jesus deals with the issue of divorce by taking his hearers back to the beginning of creation and to God's plan for the human race. In Genesis 2:23-24 we see God's intention and ideal that two people who marry should become so indissolubly one that they are one flesh. That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve. They were created for each other and for no one else. They are the pattern and symbol for all who were to come. Jesus explains that Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal. Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept His commands. Jesus, likewise, sets the high ideal for those who freely renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:11-12).

Both marriage and celibacy are calls from God to live a consecrated life, that is to live as married couples or as singles who belong not to themselves but to God. Our lives are not our own, but they belong to God. He gives the grace and power to those who seek to follow His way of holiness in their state of life. Do you seek the Lord and His grace in your state of life? Let our prayer be this today: Lord Jesus Christ, Your call to holiness extends to all in every state of life. Sanctify our lives - as married couples and as singles - that we may live as men and women who are consecrated to you. Make us leaven in a society that disdains life-long marriage fidelity, chastity, and living single for the Lord. 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

  9/30/2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                    25th Sunday (B)

Whose glory do you seek? There can be no share in God's glory without the cross. 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. And they were afraid to ask further questions! Like a person who might receive a bad verdict from the doctor and then refuse to ask further questions, they, too, didn't want to know any more. How ashamed the disciples must have been when Jesus overheard them arguing about who among them was the greatest! But 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 are the greatest in God's kingdom? The ones who are humble and lowly of heart, who instead of asserting their rights, willingly empty themselves of pride and self-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 power, 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, power, and love (2 Cor. 4:7). Are we ready to humble ourselves and to serve as Jesus did? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

10/7/  2018

Dear Parishioners,

26th Sunday                       

 

 

 

Jesus said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42). Was Jesus exaggerating when He urged His followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences? Jesus set before His disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God Himself and His will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness. Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death. 

Jesus warns His disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he or she in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith. Do we set a good example for others to follow, especially the young? Let us pray today: Lord Jesus, fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the Gospel to others. May Your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and joy in You, and freedom from sin and oppression.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

  9/26/2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                              24rd Sunday (B)

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, consecrated by the Father and sent into the world to redeem a fallen human race enslaved to sin and cut off from eternal life with God. 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 you and I must take up each day? When my will crosses with God's will, then His will must be done. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to know the Lord Jesus personally as our Redeemer, and the power to live the Gospel faithfully, and the courage to witness to others the joy, truth, and freedom of the Gospel. Who do you say that Jesus is? 

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

  9/26/2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                      23rd Sunday (B)

 

                                           

                                                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. He demonstrated both the beauty and goodness of God in his actions. When Jesus approaches a man who is deaf and has a speech impediment, Jesus shows his sympathy for this man's predicament. Jesus takes him aside privately, no doubt to protect him from embarrassment in a noisy crowd of onlookers. Jesus then puts his fingers into the deaf man's ears and he touches 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 loosened, and he spoke plainly. 

What is the significance of Jesus putting his fingers into the man's ears? St. Gregory the Great, a Father of the Church from the 6th century, comments on this miracle: "The Spirit is called the finger of God. When the Lord puts 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 people's 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 the same 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? Today let us pray: "Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with love and compassion. Make me attentive to the needs of others that I may show them kindness and care. Make me an instrument of your mercy and peace, that I may help others find healing and wholeness in you."

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

  9/26/2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                            22nd Sunday (B)

                                               Which is more important to God: clean hands or a clean mind and heart? The Scribes and Pharisees were upset with Jesus because He allowed His disciples to break with their ritual traditions by eating with unclean hands. They sent a delegation all the way from Jerusalem to Galilee to bring their accusation in a face-to-face confrontation with Jesus. Jesus dealt with their accusation by going to the heart of the matter - by looking at God's intention and purpose for the commandments. Jesus explains that they void God's command because they allow their hearts and minds to be clouded by their own notions of what is true religion. Jesus accuses them specifically of two things. First, of hypocrisy. Like actors, who put on a show, they appear to obey God's word in their external practices while they inwardly harbor evil desires and intentions. Secondly, He accuses them of abandoning God's word by substituting their own arguments and ingenious interpretations for what God requires. They devised clever arguments based on their own thoughts rather than on God's word.

Jesus points His listeners to the source of true defilement:  evil desires which come from inside a person's innermost being. Sin does not happen. It first springs from the innermost recesses of our thoughts and intentions, from the secret desires which only the individual soul can conceive. When Cain was jealous of his brother, Abel, God warned him to guard his heart: "Sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7). Do we allow any sinful desires to enter the door of our hearts and minds? Only God can change our hearts and make them clean and whole through the power of the Holy Spirit. Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God through His Word and Spirit first brings to light our sinful condition that we may recognize sin for what it is and call upon God's mercy and pardon. The Lord is ever ready to change and purify our hearts through His Holy Spirit who dwells within us. His power and grace enable us to choose what is good and to reject what is evil. Do we believe in the power of God's love to change and transform our heart?

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

  9/26/2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                         21st  Sunday (B)

Why do some people find it easier while others find it harder to accept the claims which Jesus made? Many were attracted to Jesus because He offered them something irresistible—a visible sign of God's mercy and favor which Jesus demonstrated in His wonderful works of healing, deliverance, and miraculous signs, including the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Many stumbled, however, when Jesus made claims which only God can make. 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

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

  9/19/2018

Dear Parishioners,

20th Sunday (B)

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, speaks of Himself by saying He is the Bread of Life. And, as we know quite well, the bread is to be eaten, but to eat, we should not forget, we must be hungry. How can we actually understand what being a Christian really means, if we have lost our hunger for God? Hunger to know Him, hunger to regard Him as a good Friend, hunger to make Him known to all, hunger to share Him, as we share our bread at the table. What a beautiful picture to see the head of the family slicing his daily bread earned by the sweat of his brow, while sharing it abundantly with his children! Now, however, it is the very Jesus who is offering Himself as the Living Bread, and it is Himself who sets up the measure, and who gives Himself away to us, with an overflowing magnanimity that makes us shudder with emotion.

Bread of Life—of what Life? It is quite clear that it will not allow us to live down here any longer than we should; though, it may indeed change the quality and depth of every instant we live here. Let us honestly ask ourselves: What life do I want for myself? And let us compare it with what our present life really is. Is this what we expected? Don't we think our horizon can widen much more? Then, look: much more than we could ever imagine—much fuller—much more beautiful—much more is the Life of Christ that throbs and pulsates in the Eucharist. And He is there, expecting us to eat Him, waiting at the door to our heart, patient, enduring, passionate, for He knows how to love. And, after that, the eternal Life: “Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” (Jn 6:58). What else do we want?

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

  9/12/2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                              19th Sunday (B)

 

 

 

God offers His people abundant life, but we can miss it. What is the bread of life which Jesus offers? It is first of all the life of God Himself--life which sustains us not only now in this age but also in the age to come. The Rabbis believed that the father who missed the promised land also missed the life to come. God sustained the Israelites in the wilderness with manna from heaven. This bread foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer His followers. Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. 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. The bread which Jesus offers His disciples and us sustains all not only on our journey to the heavenly paradise, but it gives us the abundant supernatural life of God which sustains us for all eternity. 

When we receive from the Lord's table, we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in His body and blood and partakers of His divine life. Jesus offers us the abundant supernatural life of heaven itself, but we can miss it or even refuse it. To refuse Jesus is to refuse eternal life, unending life with the Heavenly Father. To accept Jesus as the bread of heaven is not only to accept life and spiritual nourishment for this world but glory in the world to come. 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 or Lord's Supper 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. Do we hunger for the "bread of life"?

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

  9/5/.2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                                      18th Sunday (B)

 

In today’s gospel the crowds of people whom Jesus fed in the wilderness come back, looking for Him, wanting more of this bread He had provided. Jesus takes the opportunity to point them toward what is more enduring. His advice is “Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life.” The horizon of Jesus is not the mere horizon of this world but that of eternity. When He speaks of what truly lasts, He means what it is that lasts into eternity. For Jesus what is of lasting value is not just what is remembered for generations into the future, but what will continue to have value in eternity. It is hard to keep that horizon of eternity before us, especially in these times when our universe seems so all fascinating. Yet the horizon of Jesus is the horizon of eternity. Certainly, He takes this earthly life very seriously; He has invested Himself in showing us how to live in this life, by His teaching, His way, His relating to others. He gave Himself over to meeting the basic needs of those He met. He healed the sick; He comforted the bereaved; He fed the hungry; He befriended the lonely. He told us to do the same and declared that what we do for others, we do for Him. Yet, all the time the backdrop was an eternal horizon. In living in this way, we are preparing ourselves to live forever. Those who live by the values of the kingdom of God will inherit the kingdom of God. Since human beings were created by God to live forever, Jesus came to show us how to gain that eternal life and to help us on our way to it. In a great metaphor, He speaks of Himself as the bread of life which nourishes us into eternity. If we stay with Him, our deepest hungers and thirsts will be satisfied in this life and more fully in the next. When we wonder about what endures, we should think first of Jesus. He is the gateway to enduring life, for ourselves and for all we love and value.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

 

  8.26.2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                          17th Sunday (B)

                                                Today, we can contemplate how                                                     both human and supernatural love                                                 can be forged in us, given that we use the same heart to love both man and God. Generally speaking, love starts to grow in the human heart with the progressive discovery of that which is attractive in the other person: their friendliness and their goodness. This is the case with the “boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish” (Jn 6:9). He gives Jesus all that he has got with him, the bread and the fish, because he has let himself be won over by the attractiveness of Jesus. Have I discovered the attractiveness of the Lord?

The next step is falling in love, the consequence of feeling a response: “Large crowds followed Him because of the miraculous signs they saw when He healed the sick” (Jn 6:2). Jesus listened to them; He paid attention to them because He knew what they needed.
Jesus Christ finds an attraction in me and desires that I fulfill myself both humanly and supernaturally. He loves me as I am, in all my smallness because I ask for forgiveness, and with His help, I continue trying.

The fullness of love is love that gives of itself. When you look for the good of a loved one without expecting anything in return, even when it entails personal sacrifice, that is the fullness of love. Today, we can say: “Lord, You who let us participate in the miracle of the Eucharist, I ask You not to hide that You live with us, that we may see You, that we may touch You, that we may feel You, that we may be always at Your side, that You be the King of our lives and of our work” (Saint Jose Maria).

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

A Message from

Fr. Thomas Anatharackal CST

Our Lady of Grace

Administrator

 

    7/8/2018

Dear Parishioners,

                                                                     14th Sunday

 

                                                                    Being rejected is a painful experience. Whether it is                                                                        trying out for a musical group, a part in a play,or                                                a sports team; whether it is being rejected by a potential employer, publisher, college, or an individual we are interested in, rejection hurts. Perhaps it hurts the most when we are rejected by those who have known us the longest – our family and the people who watched us grow up. Rejection by those closest to us is a painful experience that evokes sharp emotions, such as anger, outrage, self-pity, and hurt. More people have experienced this type of rejection than we might think.

Jesus knew what it was like to be rejected in this way. In today’s gospel, Mark tells us that Jesus was rejected by those in His hometown. (Mark 6:1-13). The New Testament tells us many times that Jesus was rejected by His own people. “He came to what was His own, and His own people did not accept Him.” (John 1:11). St. Paul wrestles with the rejection of Jesus by His fellow Jews (Romans 9:11). The rejection at Jesus’ hometown synagogue did not hinder the mission for long.  In fact, it may have given impetus to the commissioning of His twelve disciples for their first assignment.

What do we take from this passage from Mark today? Don’t underestimate Jesus. Don’t be so sure of what we know that we are not open to God doing new things. Can we see things that don’t fit our expectations? Be careful how we measure people, especially those we have known a long time. Be like a tailor, measure everyone new each time we see them. They may have changed. If you have been rejected, follow the example of Jesus and the disciples and go and do something for someone else, rather than wallowing in self-pity. Just as Jesus sent his disciples out on a journey of faith to live and share the good news, we are also sent on a similar journey in our time. We are accountable for sharing, not for the results. Remember, if we are having a hard time with human rejection in some form, that in God’s eyes we are all beloved.

Have a Blessed and Joyful  Week

 

 

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