IV SUNDAY OF THE YEAR: 29 January 2023

_Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12a

One of the saddest songs I have heard is “Nobody’s Child”: a song about a blind orphan boy, who feels he is nobody’s child because nobody wants him. Many come to the orphanage to adopt children, but – because he is blind – they leave him behind. He strongly feels the absence of love.

There are moments in our lives when we feel like “nobody’s children”: we feel unwanted, unloved, misunderstood, and rejected; we consider ourselves failures.
Today’s readings tell us that we have no cause for despair… because our God prefers the nobodies of the world!

In the first reading, Zephaniah speaks of and to “a people humble and lowly”.
These – the remnant of Israel/anawim – are a small group of people who, despite difficulties and trials, have been faithful to God. While others turn to worldly wealth and power, these know that their power lies in God alone. Hence, they shall know true peace: “they shall pasture… with none to disturb them”!
The anawim are a concrete sign of God’s power working among the nobodies of the world.

This is the thrust of the gospel beatitudes!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit…” The ‘poor in spirit’ do not have the resources to meet their needs and recognise their total dependence on God. Jesus does not justify/extol economic poverty; he calls his disciples to recognise their complete dependence on God and to give up self-reliance. “… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He assures them that when they are ‘poor in spirit’ they will experience deep communion with God now.
The second to the seventh beatitudes spell out aspects of being ‘poor in spirit’.
In the eighth beatitude, we hear again the refrain: “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Those declared ‘blessed’ are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Righteousness, for Matthew, is doing God’s will always.

Today’s readings that – however painful the circumstances – the anawim or the poor in spirit experience the grace of God and intimate communion with him… here and now and always.
In my darkest hour, in moments of intense isolation and pain, in moments when I feel like nobody’s child, can I be ‘poor in spirit’? Can I acknowledge my nothingness before God and my complete dependence on him? If yes, mine is the kingdom of heaven.

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB

III SUNDAY OF THE YEAR: 22 January 2023

Isaiah 8:23—9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23

Mother Teresa visited a man who lived alone. His room was dark and dirty. She started cleaning the room. The man gruffly asked her to leave it as it was. She kept cleaning. Under a pile of rubbish, she found a dirty oil lamp. She asked: “How come you never light this lamp?” He replied: “Why should I light it? No one ever comes to see me. I never see anybody.” “Will you light it if one of my sisters comes to see you?” “If I hear a human voice, I’ll light the lamp.”
Two sisters began visiting him. His situation and he gradually improved. Then one day he told them: “Sisters, I’ll manage on my own from now. But do me a favour. Tell that first sister who came to see me that the light she lit in my life is still burning.”

What Mother Teresa did for that poor man (and countless others) was to continue the mission of Jesus: to bring light to “the people who sit in darkness”.

The gospel announces the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. It is significant that Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee. For Matthew, this is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s oracle (First Reading) concerning the Messiah: the darkness of Galilee’s Assyrian captivity will end and the “great light” of their deliverance will appear.
Further, Galilee was home to Jewish immigrants who, for centuries, were surrounded and influenced by Gentiles. The people of the southern kingdom of Judah looked down on them. Jesus, himself an immigrant, begins his ministry among these outcasts, the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”.

Jesus’ mission is to proclaim and establish the kingdom of God: a state of love, justice, and peace; a reversal of darkness and oppression of every kind. He does this by teaching and healing people, by calling them to “repent” and to follow him.

The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light – that is today’s good news. But our reality is that we still live in darkness; we still face isolation and oppression.
The Lord, who called Simon and Andrew, James and John, calls us to follow him to continue his mission to bring light to “the people who sit in darkness”.
Who are the people who sit in darkness in my life? And how will I bring light to them? Will I leave my “boat” and “nets” (my securities, my old value system) to follow him?

May we who “have seen a great light” allow this light to remove all darkness from our lives.

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB

II SUNDAY OF THE YEAR: 15 January 2023

Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34

Someone asked a missionary whether he liked what he was doing. His response was shocking: “Do I like this work? No! I do not like dirt. I have reasonable refined sensibilities. I do not like crawling into dirty huts.” He listed all the difficulties he endured.
He continued: “But is a person to do nothing for Christ he/she does not like? Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. I have orders to ‘go’ and I go. Love impels me.”

Today’s liturgy emphasises that love impels every missionary… beyond their dislikes and feelings.

In the first reading (the second servant song from Isaiah), God says that he forms his servant to bring back Jacob and Israel to himself. And that mission “is too light a thing” and so the servant has “to be a light to the nations.”
In the second reading, Paul affirms that he is “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.” Reading through the Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s Letters, it is clear that Paul feels impelled to be an apostle. He has orders to “go” and he does… despite the hardships and tribulation he faces.
In the gospel, John the Baptist spells out his mission: to reveal Jesus to Israel and to testify that he is the son of God. The fact that he did not know Jesus is irrelevant; he “had” to witness to him.

The mission of the servant, of Paul, of John the Baptist – and it is one mission – is our mission too. You and I are called to be a light to the nations; to be apostles; to lead others to Jesus.

Do I allow love to impel me to be an apostle and a missionary? Or do my likes and dislikes, fears and prevent me from witnessing to God’s love? How will I be a light to “the nations”? How will I reveal Jesus to people around me?
May you and I “go”. May his love impel you and me!

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB


Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

Growing up as a “fauji” kid was an amazing experience of a life of communion! Each campus was a mini-India. We hailed from different places and spoke different languages, professed different faiths, and had different customs. Despite our numerous differences, we shared a common bond. In sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, in mourning and in celebration, we were one people: members of one fauji family.

We are members of one family—one human family which the One God has created. This is the thrust of the readings on the Feast of the Epiphany.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes that the manifestation (or epiphany) of God’s glory in Jesus reveals God’s plan to make all people “members of the same body”.
In the first reading, Isaiah invites Jerusalem to “rise up in splendour” because the exile is over. Her sons and daughters return to Jerusalem; and so will the Gentiles bearing “the wealth of nations” to praise God who has done wonders for all his people.
What Isaiah proclaims in verse, Matthew narrates in word! Bethlehem is the destination of the pilgrimage of the Magi bearing gifts to honour the King of the Jews. Jews and Gentiles are one in praising and adoring the one God. And God, in the person of Jesus, is reaching out to one people, to the whole world.

In a world which increasingly emphasizes division based on gender, race, religion, nationality, class… the Feast of the Epiphany is a powerful reminder that for God there are no foreigners, no outsiders; all are his beloved children.
Do I see myself as a member of the one human family? How will I manifest and celebrate my oneness with all people in the week ahead?

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB