31st January 2021: The feast of st. John Bosco was celebrated with the fitting pomp and solemnity at the headquaters salesian province of Dimapur. It was presided over by Rev. Fr. Provincial, Fr. Jose Kuruvachira sdb and concelebrated by 17 Salesian Priests. The salesian Institute of Philosophy assisted in singing. The mass began around 06.00 p.m. In his homily, Fr. Provincial highlighted the qualities of Don Bosco as being passionate, Hard working, man with a purpose, spiritual giant, prolific writer and so on and so forth. The solemn holy mass was ensued by sumptuous dinner.
——Fr. Christudoss Antony sdb
- What is the art of silkworm breeding called?
- On which river is Nagarjunasagar Project situated?
- Which is the biggest freshwater lake in India?
- Which is called the Tiger State?
- What is meant by the term “cirrus”?
- On which soil is hard to cultivate?
- Tsunamis are huge sea waves caused by
- Which river is called “Sorrow of Bihar”?
- How much is the duration of a day at the Equator?
- Where is Siachin Glacier situated in India?
- Wular Lake (also coined as Wullar) in Bandipora, Jammu and Kashmir
- Madhya Pradesh
- A high-cloud
- Red Soil
- 12 Hours
- Jammu & Kashmir
(By Fr Jaojian Ganmei SDB)
AUTHORITY FROM RELATIONSHIP
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28
Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, had a quarrel early in their marriage. Albert walked out and went to his room. Victoria followed him. She found the door locked and began pounding on it.
“Who’s there?” Albert asked. “The Queen of England,” was the reply. The door remained locked.
More pounding followed. There was only silence. Then a gentle tap. “Who’s there?” Albert inquired. Victoria replied: “Your wife, Albert.” Albert opened the door immediately.
What opened Albert’s door and heart was not the authority that came from the power and status of the Queen of England, but an authority that came from relationship.
That is the kind of authority that Jesus had.
After the call of the first disciples (which we heard last Sunday), Jesus continues his public ministry by teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, and by casting out an unclean spirit. The people are astonished because he taught and healed as one having personal authority unlike the scribes who derived their authority from their role/status.
The crowd cannot identify the source of this authority. The unlikely voice of “a man with an unclean spirit” does: “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, after his death on the cross, another unlikely voice—that of the Roman centurion—will identify Jesus: “This man was the Son of God!”
Jesus derived his authority from his intimate and personal relationship with his father.
Jesus’ exercise of this authority, too, was different.
He told his disciples: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their officials flaunt their authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant… For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
He powerfully demonstrated this: by his compassion in feeding the multitude, by reaching out to the marginalised and the sorrowing, by washing the feet of his disciples, by cooking breakfast for them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
From where do I derive my authority: from my role/status and power/prestige or from my relationship with my God? How do I relate with others: from power or through relationship? How do I exercise the authority I have?
(By Fr. Dr. Vinod Mascarenhas SDB)
He taught them with authority. (Mark 1:22)
In many places, teaching is a very highly paid job. They need to prepare themselves very seriously for responsibility. After the completion of their college studies, they need to have specialised training so that they can tackle the subject with its various nuances. They should also have sound training in psychology and know the implications involved in the growth of a child and how learning makes or unmakes a person. There is great traditional wisdom in saying that: “In order to teach John Mathematic you must know not only mathematics but also John.” The successful teachers, therefore, are not only subject experts but also people-friendly. They are expected to be human and humane persons.
When a teacher is exceptionally good, his language and even other shortcomings are often overlooked. The relationship styles of the teacher are very vital as he carries out the job of enriching the lives of students.
As Jesus comes into the teaching world of the Jews, they are surprised because he is not like the other teachers they have known. They relied on the authority of the books or on others who appointed them. They were teaching with their words. But Jesus was teaching them with his life and the authority of God. In the first lesson that he taught them in the Synagogue at Nazara, he spoke of himself as the one anointed by the Spirit. (Luke 4:18) It was with the authorization that came from that Jesus taught. He also claimed: “The Father and I are one. (John 10.30)
Every lesson that he taught was backed by the example he gave with his own life. Regarding the lessons of loving, he said: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13.34) He taught people with the words: “Love your enemies and do good to them hate you.”(Mat 5:44) As a follow up of this lesson he gave a personal and perfect example with his own life. As he was in his last agony on the cross, he prayed for those who were persecuting him. “Forgive them Father; they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke: 23:34) His deeds were like a ready reference for the lives of his students. Looking at his life, they understood all that he taught them. That is why he said, “Learn of me, I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mat 11:29)
Prayer: God our father, most of the life we are busy learning and teaching. Very often we limit our teaching-learning merely to words and mostly to classrooms. Help us to be like your son Jesus who learned with respect and obedience. Make us teachers like him to teach with the authority of a good exemplary life. Amen.
(By Fr P X Francis Charuvila SDB, a missionary in Manipur)
First Reading: Heb 11: 1 – 2, 8 – 19 Gospel: Mk 4: 35 – 41
Fear! Everyone has had some experiences of fear. The causes of fear keep changing even for the same person as years go by and as one gets more experienced. Some years ago a short video clip of a child of about three had gone around in social media circles. In the video, the child was outdoors on a sunny day before noon or after. It could see its own shadow on the ground and was trying to move away from it but couldn’t. Gradually it began to panic, scream in fear and try to run zigzag faster. As a result, it tripped and fell a couple of time. The suppressed laughter in the background audio track gave the impression that all the elders around, the one who shot the video including, never cared to help the child but enjoyed the amusing sight. Why? Well, they knew that there was nothing harmful around the baby except its own harmless shadow. But the baby was ignorant, which was a matter of fun for the adults watching. The baby was in mortal fear of an enemy which was not there.
The kind of response that Jesus has for his disciples in the Gospel passage of today is very similar. He asked them plainly, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” He was pretending to be fast asleep, but he was having a close look at the fearful response of his disciples. Who knows, if he too was chuckling in silence seeing their plight like the people who laughed at the scared baby.
Does this episode have anything to apply to us directly? The answer is an emphatic ‘Yes’. It is a mirror image of our lives and our relation to God too. There are many among us who keep arguing with God for a sign. They keep blaming God that they are unable to trust Him for lack of clear signs from Him. They promise to be faithful provided He gave them a clear sign. The question is whether we will have more faith if we had a real miracle of our choice?
The disciples had been eyewitnesses to all sorts of signs and miracles. Yet they missed the whole point that He had been trying to prove to them, He was the Emmanuel, the God with us. No wonder they were scared beyond all limits. They failed in the test that Jesus had put them to a test of their faith. The result was ‘fear.’ They thought they were all going to perish in spite of the presence of the Emmanuel. That simply means that they kept hearing Jesus preaching about the coming of the Kingdom of God. But what they failed to realise was that Jesus was not only teaching them about the Kingdom but they were already part of it, they were with the Emmanuel, God with us.
Today the number of people suffering from depression is on the increase. This malady has entered silently also in the circle of priests and religious who are trained counsellors. Of late there have been so many cases of priests and religious taking their own lives, or living in depression, fear and hopelessness. What has gone wrong? The answer can be found in the Gospel passage that we are reflecting on. We can forget God and live sometimes. But when that becomes a habit we try to take everything into our own hands. And that is impossible. At one point we are bound to run out of solutions and answers to our crisis moments. If we don’t think of God at that point we might misunderstand that everything is over, and that is the end of the road. For such then comes the suicide point or, at least, they fall into the trap of depression.
If anyone among us is in a similar situation it is high time that he/she checks his/her level of faith. Faith is not a conviction in a set of formulae that we find in a Catechism book. Rather, faith ultimately consists in developing an awareness of God’s continuous presence with me. It is that presence of Jesus that His disciples forgot and were filled with fear. The same applies to us too. At the root of all our anxieties and fears is our shallow faith which makes us incapable of feeling God walking along with us. The Gospel passage of today must be able to convince us that we are never alone. Come what may, I will never give up, because, God is with me.
(By Fr Jenson Kalloor CM, St. Vincent’s Seminary, Dimapur)
Dimapur 29 January 2021: *General Knowledge* series starting on 31 January 2021 by Salesian Province Web Site (www.donboscodimapur.org) is an attempt to help the aspiring young talents to sharpen their already smart minds. The series will include 10 questions each daily on different areas of general knowledge. You are welcome to share it with your friends and aspiring young talents of UPSC and other competitive examination takers.
Call to Give and not to Gather: Purchase is one among the many regular activities all engage in. There could be a causal approach while buying ordinary things, but there is great care while buying something important and costly. Quality, durability, etc., are ascertained before the deal is done. On the side of the company, it puts its trademark and grade-mark on its products to claim quality. The producers foresee the utility and suitability of its products for the consumers. There is a definite purpose envisioned for a product and this purpose defines and designs the product. This is our experience from the world of daily living. Take it further to a level of seeing the creation of human being in terms of its ultimate purpose in God’s view. What is human life designed and destined for?
Jesus is described as one who came to show the ‘Way to God’ to humanity. He spoke of the need for all human beings to be part of the Kingdom of God. This is not about geographical location but it’s about a ‘lifestyle.’ He spoke of values and qualities required of life in line with God’s purpose of creation. While using parables to explain, Jesus had a variety of them to speak of the different aspects.
Jesus described human life and its purpose with the image of a small seed that grows up to a big tree; big enough to shelter the birds besides bearing fruits of its own. Two emphatic elements mentioned here are ‘basic purpose,’ and an ‘extended purpose.’ The tree is called ‘good’ when it bears fruit. However, the parable speaks of the ‘extended achievement of the tree in sheltering the birds.’ This description of a tree and its purpose raise a deeper question; how much should one achieve with one’s life? While explaining about human life on another occasion, Jesus mentioned that he came so that all may have life and life in its abundance (Jn. 10.10). There is a larger clarity that it is not enough to have life, but to achieve the purposes of life; that too in as many ways as possible.
In addition, the image of a tree brings to light that the ‘purpose of life,’ is not ‘gathering for oneself’ but it’s about giving away and making oneself available like a tree that produces fruits to be taken away and its branches to be used by others. When people of the time counted God’s blessings in terms of ‘what was gathered for oneself’ Jesus calls for an enlightened outlook from his disciples that life and its purposes are to be counted in terms of how much one could productively give and avail oneself usefully for the good of others.
Lord, help us to be gratefully aware of the gift of life given to us. Enlighten us day after day on the need to be purposeful in life. Anoint us, Lord, that we may find joy not in gathering for ourselves but in making ourselves useful and available for others’ growth, Amen.
(Fr Dr Francis, Principal of St Xavier’s College, Jalukie)
Dimapur 27 January 2021: In collaboration with Don Bosco Youth Ministry of Dimapur Province, the SBI Bazaar Branch Dimapur, donated 6 computers for the inmates of central jail Dimapur. Present for the occasion were Assistant Inspector General of Prisons and his staff as well as the Chief manager of SBI and his technicians. Fr Peter Salew SDB represented Don Bosco Youth Ministry of Dimapur Province.
The standard you use. (Mark 4:24)
There used to be a joke about some kings in Europe who were Catholics at home and Protestants abroad. They expected very sincere and serious behaviour from their subjects but they had another type of expectation from themselves. We can see the same type of behaviour in the leaders of some political parties. They make use of different standards for different situations and the only permanent standard appears to be the desire to get more votes and continue to remain in power.
The word of God presents us Jesus telling us about the way we live our lives. In some cases, we are merciless towards ourselves and extremely merciful towards ourselves. Jesus referred to this when he told his disciples the story of the unforgiving servant. When a man had a debt to pay back, his master decided to be tough with him. The man in debt was to be sold with his wife and all his property. The man fell on his knees before the master and begged for mercy. The master had so much compassion that he forgave the man all his debt. But this same man came across a fellow servant who owed him a small amount. But forgetting about the compassion he had received, he was ruthless and extracted from the man all that was his due. Bet when this was reported to the Master of them both, the unforgiving man was taken to task and the forgiveness granted to him earlier was withdrawn. The master declared that the one who does not forgive will not be forgiven. The standard which he used for others fell back on him.
The All-powerful God and father of the universe is all full of kindness and compassion. But there is one matter on which he acts extremely tough: the forgiveness of the offences done to us. When he taught his disciples to pray he told them to say: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us”. (Mat 6:12) It is strange but true that the God who loves us unconditionally will forgive conditionally. That is the standard that Jesus lays down.
We can see this standard being used in the case of John the Baptist and our blessed mother. Both of them used the standard of humility for themselves and exalted God. The Baptist put it so dramatically and said. : “He must increase and I must decrease.”(John 3:30). The response was that Jesus spoke of him as the greatest man born of women. (Luke 7:28) Jesus loved, respected and honoured him and wanted others to follow his humility.
Mary the humble handmaid preferred to remain a servant even though the angel had addressed her as the highly favoured one. (Luke 1:28). She replied to the angel: “I am the servant of the Lord”.(Luke 1:38) She realized that it was the Lord who had done great things for her. (Luke 1:49)
Samuel, David, Saul of Tarsus and other specially chosen instruments of God, acted with great humility and were exalted by God. That was God’s wonderful standard.
Prayer: God our Father, we see ourselves using double standards in our dealings with you and others. We are proud and merciless. Make us more like your son Jesus and others, who followed him closely. Help us to realise that we are what we are by your grace. Help us to grow in your love, compassion and mercy. Amen.
(By Fr P X Francis Charuvila SDB, a missionary in Manipur)
Heb 10: 11 – 18, Gospel Mk: 1 – 20
Who among us has not been fascinated by the games children play! One of the childish games we see on sandy beaches is building castles in wet sand. Elders enjoy all the more watching them because the kids appear so involved and serious when they are at it. But when the sand begins to dry up or some distracted person stamps on it the whole sandcastle falls into a heap and the sight often breaks their heart. All hell breaks out; they begin to scream uncontrollably as though something terrible has happened and parents get busy pacifying them as usual with other distractions like cookies, toys and so on. For the adults it is all mere sights of light amusement, but not for the children for whom the castle they build is a real business at that moment.
The human mind sans divine enlightenment is ignorant. In ignorance, each of us could be busy in so many tasks, as seriously or even more seriously as the kids who are building sandcastles. Heb. 10: 11 talks of the many priests of the Temple of Jerusalem performing sacrifices umpteen times but could never take away our sins. But the only one sacrifice of Jesus sufficed to take away sins of the world for all times. How could then we ensure that we do not linger on in ignorance and fruitless service?
The answer is in the Gospel passage of the day, ‘the Word of God.’ Recognise the Word of God, believe in its power, read it, believe it, teach it and practice it.
The Parable of the Sower’ is one that we find in all the three synoptic Gospels. The Word of God is compared to the best seeds an expert farmer selects for his next crop. He knows the quality of his seeds, so does God who sends out His Word through His son, Jesus, who has sown His well-chosen seeds of the Word with His mouth and His example. He lived what He preached. There is nothing wrong with the seeds that He has chosen. But they haven’t produced the same fruits everywhere and every time. What is going wrong and why? The answers are there in the parable itself.
Every ground need not produce a harvest despite the high-quality seeds. Hence Jesus goes on to name four types of grounds where the seeds might fall. The footpath, the rocky ground, the portions with thistles and the well- prepared ground of soil. Every one of us belongs to one of the four types of ground where God’s Word falls.
In my reflection, I would leave out two groups who don’t need my attention, namely the first and the last. The footpath is never in the plan of the farmer. It represents people who have never heard of God or never been gifted with the grace of faith. They are totally ignorant for reasons only known to God. “Faith is a gift of God that He chooses to give to those He wishes.” We do not belong to that group now that we have been granted faith to some measure and so let us not put us at par with the foot-path. The last group represents those who have attained high levels of sanctity and perfection. They have reached levels of farmer’s expectation, whom we call saints and blesseds, who also do not need my attention. But the two groups in the middle are those who need to pull themselves up to meet the standards of the farmer, hence, they have my attention too in this reflection.
The ground of rock is the first in that list. Those with farming experience know that every virgin land has a lot of hard rocky ground. It requires some amount of ploughing, breaking, powdering and levelling before it is ready to receive the seeds. Some fields become better and better with each passing year and every time the same process of breaking and powdering is repeated. It takes years of patience and expertise of a good farmer before it becomes a fertile high yielding farmland. The same is true for each of us. In the beginning, we too are similar to a virgin piece of land. We must go through a lot of tilling, breaking, and powdering of ourselves. We could be very stubborn and hard as the stones in the parable that refuse the Word to take any root to make any change in us. Replace the stubbornness with humility and we will see the difference. So it is said that humility is the queen of all virtues. Humble yourself, accept the Word, allow it to correct you, and then, see the change.
The second group of people who have the Word given them but fail to produce any harvest is ‘the ground with thorny bushes’. The thorny bushes stand on the fertile land where the seeds were expected to flourish. The seeds had good ground, manure and conducive weather conditions; but they had the thistles to chock and to retard their growth. There are some who are the best of talents around, intelligent and creative who were fortunate to have some of the best opportunities, trainers and formators, and yet, end up being counter-productive. Why does this happen? Mostly it is noticed that there would be some bad habits or personality problems that the person suffers from which eclipse all his positives. Such persons are typically like the servant who hid his talent in the ground and stood condemned by his master (Mt 25: 18, 24-30).
We are blessed to be sharing so much of God’s life in us. Each of us is a great plan of the omnipotent God unfolding gracefully. However we are not just dead inanimate instruments, rather, graceful and proud partners in God’s world. If only we could work on our stubbornness to weed out personal negative energies and allow God’s energy to come forth, we would, no doubt gradually join the fruitful plants reaping rich harvests too.
(Fr Jenson Kalloor CM, St. Vincent’s Seminary, Dimapur)