Purpose in Life
(Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Job 7:1-7; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39)
“Woe to me,” writes St. Paul, “if I do not preach the Gospel.” He is not complaining, just stating the fact that this responsibility, laid on him without his being consulted, had become the all-consuming purpose of his existence.
Jesus says something similar: “For this purpose I have come,” namely his preaching.
Job takes us to the other extreme. His life has become a drudgery, and he finds no purpose in it. He expects that he will never know happiness again.
The tears of Mary at La Salette, such a beautiful and powerful image, are troubling in a way. They can make us repent our sins; that is good. But some wonder how Mary, in heaven, can experience unhappiness.
And yet she talks about the trouble her people’s infidelity have caused her personally: “How long a time I have suffered for you! … You pay no heed… You will never be able to recompense the pains I have taken for you.” More than a sign of unhappiness, her tears are a sign of her compassion, which she cannot possibly have set aside in heaven.
Peter’s mother-in-law can help us understand the situation. Once healed, what does she do? She waits on Jesus and his companions. In her illness she was, so to speak, enslaved and without purpose. The Lord restored her to her dignity as the lady of the house. Her honor lay in honoring her guests. The same could probably be said of all the persons Jesus cured that day, especially those he delivered from demons.
The purpose of the Beautiful Lady is the same: to restore us to our dignity as Christians. She came to speak to those who were Catholics in name only—including Mélanie and Maximin. Were they even aware of the promises made on their behalf at baptism?
We might paraphrase St. Paul and the message of La Salette together by saying, “Woe to me if I do not live the Gospel.” Mary lists her people’s woes, the consequence of their religious indifference.
In 1980, St. Pope John Paul II issued a challenge to the Christians of France: “France, eldest daughter of the Church, are you faithful to your baptismal promises?”
Indeed, what purpose can Christians find in not living and practicing their faith?
New and Old
(Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)
Jesus was, to say the least, an interesting personality, a phenomenon. People were amazed at his power and the authority with which he presented a new teaching.
In our second reading, we find a specific new teaching, a novel idea put forward by St. Paul. He thought that it was better not to marry, so as to devote oneself more to pleasing God than to pleasing a wife or husband.
That was nearly 2000 years ago. While most of St. Paul’s writings are normative for Christian faith, his idea about marriage never really caught on. The teachings of Jesus have, of course, been around for a very long time. In a sense, the Good News isn’t news any more.
When Mary told Maximin and Mélanie, “I am here to tell you great news,” she really did not have anything new to say, but what she had to say was vitally important, nonetheless. Her message echoes the Good News, as well as the Old Testament. But she did not just repeat Bible teachings; she had to get us to hear them in a new way. That is the prophetic approach.
If you read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, you will find very similar messages, but the language and the personality of each individual prophet is different. How true this is of the Beautiful Lady as well!
We may reasonably expect some similarity between her words and the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and indeed the tragic image of dying children recurs there quite often. In Jeremiah 14:17 we read, “Let my eyes stream with tears, day and night, without rest.” This evokes for us not only Mary’s weeping, but also her praying for us without ceasing.
Still, certain dimensions of the Apparition are unique: the unusual elements of Mary’s costume, her choice of witnesses. The newness of her message lies in the direct application to current events. Critics say that potatoes are not a suitable topic for the Blessed Virgin to address. True enough in the abstract, perhaps, but potatoes and wheat represented life to her people, and so constituted an effective way to get their attention.
The ’new teaching’ of Jesus is ancient, but not old, never passé. La Salette reminds us of the importance of finding new, more effective ways to announce it.
I am happy to inform you that by the Grace of God the following members are ordained to Priesthood.
Fr. KALLAKKUDIYAN, Sajith, M.S. - December 27, 2017
By Bishop Alex Vadakkumthala
Fr. VELUTHEDATHUPARAMBIL, Jobins, M.S. - December 28, 2017.
By Bishop Jose Porunedom
Fr. CHENNELIL, Kuriakose, M.S. - January 02, 2018
By Bishop Joseph Srampical
Fr. PULAVELIL, Jesbin, M.S. - January 02, 2018
By Bishop Joseph Srampical
Fr. F.,Thooyanathan, M.S - January 15, 2018
By Archbishop Anthoni Swami
Fr. GOMPA, Manibhushana Rao, M.S - January17, 2018
By Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu
Fr. Rojan Cheriyadan M.S
(Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Jonah 3:1-10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1-14-20)
Over the centuries, well over a hundred dates have been predicted for the end of the world, by an interesting variety of persons: St. Martin of Tours, Pope Sylvester II, the artist Sandro Botticelli, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, and a host of other famous or unknown prognosticators. Not one of those prophecies has been fulfilled. The most recent date predicted was just four months ago!
Jonah enters into that category. He was a true prophet, sent by God, to proclaim to the Ninevites that their time was up. But in Chapter 4 of the Book of Jonah, the prophet blames God for sending him on a fool’s errand. He knew all along, he claims, that he would fail and God would relent of the punishment he had threatened.
St. Paul writes that time is running out. Mary at La Salette says: “If my people refuse to submit, I will be forced to let go the arm of my Son. It is so strong and so heavy, I can no longer hold it back.” Both seem to speak with a certain threatening urgency.
We can say that Mary at La Salette was hoping for the same sort of failure that Jonah suffered. She did not want her predictions of famine and the death of children to be fulfilled. She offered an alternative. It is never too late! Transformation is always possible.
Jesus begins his public ministry by proclaiming a time of fulfillment and calling people to repentance. There is nothing threatening about this. Still, Jesus is announcing the end of the world—as we know it! A time of transformation lies ahead. This is what St. Paul means when he writes that “the world in its present form is passing away.”
We have no way of knowing just why Simon, Andrew, James and John left everything to follow Jesus. One thing is certain: it was the end of their world as they had known it. Becoming disciples of Jesus dramatically changed them in every way imaginable.
For us, as for them, the encounter with Christ inevitably changes us, and not just once, but over and over. But sometimes we resist that change and need to be called or challenged yet again. That’s where the message of La Salette finds its place. It takes a Beautiful Lady, or someone who loves her, to make it known.
(Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: 1 Samuel 3:3-19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-20; John 1:35-42)
Three times in today’s Gospel, John tells us what a Hebrew word means. We can conclude, therefore, that his audience was not familiar with them, and that he considered it important or, at least, useful to know and understand them. There are many similar cases in the New Testament, most notably the cry of Jesus on the Cross: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me).
Our Lady of La Salette, observing that at one point the children appeared confused, said, “Don't you understand, my children? Let me find another way to say it.” Then she translated the previous sentence or two into their dialect, and continued speaking that way almost to the very end of her message. She, too, knew the importance of understanding.
In the first reading, old Eli explained to young Samuel the nature of the voice he was hearing, and the importance of listening to it. After that, the boy went on to become one of the greatest of God’s spokespersons, discerning and interpreting God’s will for the people and their rulers.
St. Paul, without using the word, deals with a different kind of translation, not from one language to another, but from theory to practice or, better, from faith to life. He reminds the Corinthians that they have become temples of the Holy Spirit, and must act accordingly. Elsewhere he writes that because of that same Spirit we can call God Abba. Even in modern Hebrew, that is the name by which children call their father.
At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady laments that her people have failed to translate their Christian heritage into a Christian way of life, that life which is sometimes called simply ’the Way’ in the Acts of the Apostles.
This reflection gives me the opportunity to thank three men in a special way. Brother Moisés Rueda, M.S., and Mr. Paul Dion, have been faithfully translating these reflections every week, respectively into Spanish and French; and Fr. Henryk Przeździecki, M.S., publishes them on the Internet. Together they make these reflections accessible to so many whom I cannot reach.
But you don’t really need to be a linguist to translate the message of La Salette. Just live it!