Christmas is not over – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary time – MT 4:12-23 OR 4:12-17

So what if you have removed your decorations and have stopped popping marzipan sweets in your mouth; Christmas is not over! Matthew, the evangelist seems to agree with me; not with my liturgical incorrectness but with my trend of thought. We are in Chapter four of his gospel this Sunday, and have left behind the narrative of his birth, his baptism, his temptation and technically are somewhere at the beginning of his Galilean ministry. Yet I insist on wishing you a happy Christmas.

What is Christmas all about? It’s the celebration of God who gave us his son, the light of the world; a son who, as the evangelist John tells us, is the “light of all peoples”. So Christmas is not the celebration of a mere birth but the gift of light and life from God, His Son our Lord. As we say in the creed, “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.  So each time we dispel the darkness and welcome the light, we celebrate Christmas; we celebrate Him, who is the light of the world. Today’s reading does exactly that. It reminds us why Jesus came into the world; he comes in fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah, chapter 9: 1 (Mat 4:16) “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”.

Let us understand this ‘darkness’ that Jesus steps into. Matthew is deliberately quoting Isaiah to make a point. Jesus in fulfillment of the scriptures enters Galilee of the gentiles, and makes his home in Capernaum by the sea in the territory of Zebulum and Naphtali. To understand this text and its consequences we have to go back in time.

In 722 BC , Tiglath Pillesar, the Assyrian king had conquered the northern half of Israel  namely Judah ( the region of Galilee in our text). Years later, the Babylonians captured Jerusalem in the south in 529 BC, destroying the temple and sending the people into exile. Seventy years later the exiles of the south returned to rebuild the temple during the Persian captivity (read the book of Haggai); but the north never really recovered and lost its strong Jewish identity to the cultural influences of the Gentiles who surrounded the land.

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SAUL TO PAUL: ‘The Conversion on the Way to Damascus’ by Caravaggio (1601)

The great and brilliant Caravaggio (1571 – 1610) goes down in history as the legendary bad boy.  His life was termed turbulent; his attitude – mad, bad and perilous. He lived by the sword and was apparently prosecuted for having carried one in public without a license. His litany of infringements include throwing a plate of artichokes in the waiter’s face, casting a sword against another man in a love dispute, hurling stones at his landlady and the worst of all murdering a man over a tennis match brawl.

With the eventual death sentence hanging round his neck, he flees from Rome to Naples, Sicily and Malta. Thanks to his powerful Roman lobby, in the summer of 1610 he receives a pardon for his crime. As he sails northwards towards Rome the news of his sudden spasmodic death spreads throughout the region. The cause was cited to be fever but later argued to be a murder.

The mystery surrounding Caravaggio’s death can hardly be compared to the fresh breath of life rendered by his art to posterity. His crazy genius is well reflected in today’s masterpiece titled ‘The Conversion on the Way to Damascus’. It was executed in 1601 for the Cerasi Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in Rome. The work was commissioned by Monsignor Tiberio Cerasi, Treasurer-General to Pope Clement VIII who had purchased the chapel from the Augustinian friars in July 1600.    

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Mrs Helen Sequeira

Helen Sequeira makes this amazing Kori Chicken or Chicken sukka. This morning she came over to show me how to make this simple chicken dish which has always got me salivating. Recipes MUST be shared. There is no point in taking them to your grave. Enjoy and let me know how it turned out. 

For Masala 

Cloves                                      24

Peppercorns                       2 table spoons

Jeera                                        2 heaped tea spoons

Cinnamon                             1 inch piece

Cardamom                           3

Kashmiri chilly                30

Coriander seeds               7 heaped table spoons

Other ingredients

Chicken                                  1 ½  kgs

Onions                                    3 medium

Ginger garlic paste           I table spoon

Grated coconut               ½ coconut

Lime juice                             ½ lime

Oil

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#HomesWithDignity 

The parish of St Jude is tucked away between the national park in the East and the bustling railway station to the West. Within this very large and populous area is a tiny community of 800 Catholics most of whom struggle to eke out a respectable living. But what we do not have in material terms we more than compensate with our spirit of community. We are a small Church with a big heart!

It is this large heart (with the help of so many in the Archdiocese) that made us one of the first and perhaps continued to be the only responders to the people who fell victims of the tragedy on the first of July 2019 in which 31 people lost their lives and more than 250 families were rendered homeless.

The parish community had just adopted a new mission statement, ‘the Judean Family; striving to witness to the love and service of Christ to all people’ and it seems that Jesus took us very seriously in our outreach ‘to all’. Out of the 250 families that we reached out to only one was Christian.

But while the torrential rains battered the slopes of the National park where the tragedy occurred, it also showed no mercy to the rest of Malad East. Several homes in our parish were destroyed or submerged under water, leaving people with nothing. After having served others most in need, the parish as a family, reached out to our own.

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Sharing the stage of salvation history – 2nd Sunday in ordinary time –John 1:29-34 ( Click the link to read the text)

The narrative of today’s Gospel is part of events that took place over three days (verses 19, 29 and 35) and at its heart is the person of John the Baptist. Central also to these texts are two sets of words, ‘testimony’ and ‘the Lamb of God’. The choice of this text within its larger context seems to be a ‘handing over of sorts’ by the one who was called to prepare ‘the way’ for Jesus who ‘is THE way’.

It is John who gives us an insight into what the agenda of Jesus, ‘THE way’, would be like and he does this by presenting Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God’  both in today’s text and again in John 1:36. To a modern day Christian mind the ‘lamb of God’ would be easily accepted as a title that we use for Jesus but its deeper connection would evade us. Not so for the first century listeners of John the Baptist; they were Jews and they got it!

When John the Baptist called Jesus the ‘Lamb of God’ he awakened a dormant memory that was embedded in the history of the Jewish people. It was in the book of the Exodus that the people were called to take a ‘lamb’ and sacrifice it. Now John was pointing to Jesus the Lamb who would once again be sacrificed for them.

But the idea of a sacrificial lamb was also prophesised by Isaiah in the fifty third chapter when describing the suffering servant as a ‘lamb’ who was led to the slaughter and as a sheep silent before its shearers. John was presenting Jesus as the fulfilment of the prophecies; this was the NEW EXODUS and Jesus was the NEW PASSOVER LAMB.

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