IV SUNDAY OF EASTER: 30 April 2023

Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 2:20b-45; John 10:1-10

An Amerindian and his friend were walking in midtown New York. Decibel levels were deafeningly high: people chatting, vehicles moving, horns honking. Suddenly, the Amerindian said: “I hear a cricket.” His friend exclaimed: “That’s crazy! You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all this noise!”
The Amerindian insisted that he had heard a cricket. He walked to a big plant, looked under the branches and… found a cricket.
His friend was stunned: “That’s incredible! You must have superhuman ears!” The Amerindian said: “My ears are no different from yours. It depends on what you’re listening for!” He pulled out a few coins from his pocket and dropped them on the sidewalk. Every head within twenty feet turned to see if the money that had tinkled on the pavement was theirs!
“See what I mean!” said the Amerindian. “It depends on what your ears are attuned to, and that depends on what’s important for you.”

Today’s liturgy highlights the importance of having ears attuned to God and his word.

The gospel has two parables.
In the first, the imagery is of a sheepfold into which the shepherd and a prowler seek to enter. It is a challenge to Israel’s religious authorities: will they listen to and heed Jesus’ message? Jesus can offer no external credentials for his authority.
The second parable concerns the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd, and between the sheep and a stranger. Jesus indicates that a small group respond in faith to his message because they hear in it the authentic voice of God.

Both parables make the same point: The Lord is our shepherd who cares for us, accompanies us, protects us, and gives us abundant life; we need to listen to him and allow him to be our shepherd. The previous chapter of John had shown Jesus doing the work of the Good Shepherd—healing the man born lame and then seeking him out!

The first reading is an “enactment” of the second parable! The people listen to Peter’s admonishment. “They were cut to the heart” and ask what they must do. They heed Peter’s voice: they repent and are saved.

If Jesus and his word are important for us, we will hear him above the bustle of our lives, above the noise of consumerism and materialism. If our ears are attuned to power, prestige, and pleasure, we will hear those. To whom/what do I listen? Whom do I follow? Do I still hear the shepherd and follow him?
The quality of our life indicates to what our ears are attuned! If we do not live “abundantly”, we are listening to and following not the shepherd but a stranger.

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB


Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

The film “The Miracle Worker” is the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. It depicts how Sullivan broke through Keller’s isolation, confusion, and anger, which came about because of her inability to communicate with people. For 49 years, she journeyed with Keller—first as teacher and then as companion. She showed Keller the meaning of words; she helped Keller transform herself from a wild girl into a world-famous speaker, author, and advocate for differently abled people.

The two disciples on their way to Emmaus had a journey like Keller. They have just experienced a great loss. “We had hoped,” they say. Past tense! They have left the community of disciples and are walking away from Jerusalem… away from the place where their hopes were shattered! And then Jesus walks with them. They went from despair to hope, from looking downcast to having burning hearts after the Risen Jesus journeyed with them as teacher (he broke the word to them) and companion (he broke bread with them). After this walk, they became messengers of hope to the other disciples.

The second reading is an excerpt from 1 Peter written for Christians in Asia Minor whose acceptance of the gospel alienated them from society. Peter bolsters their faith. He tells them that during the time of their sojourning, the Risen Jesus sojourns with them.

“God walking with us” is a recurrent theme in the Bible: he walked with Adam and Eve in the garden; he walked with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he walked with the Israelites in the desert; he walked with the exiles; he walked the shore of Galilee healing the sick and comforting the anguished.

We are often on an Emmaus journey. God walks with us in our times of anguish and despair, confusion and pain, when we cannot make sense of the events of our life and our world. Do I recognise him? Or do discouragement and despair prevent me from recognising him?
God continues to explain his way and his word to us. Will I listen to him and attempt to understand? Do I walk with others?

May you and I be aware of God walking with us on our “Emmaus” journeys! May the opening the scriptures and the breaking the bread strengthen us to walk with others to bring them hope.

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB

II SUNDAY OF EASTER: 16 April 2023

Acts 2:42-47; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

After a lecture on mental health, Karl Menninger—the famous psychiatrist—answered audience questions. One person asked: “What would you advise a person to do if he/she felt a nervous breakdown coming on?” Duh! the obvious answer: see a counsellor! Menninger caught everyone off guard with his response: “Lock up your house… find someone in need and do something to help that person.”

Brilliant advice! And it applies to all sorts of situations: when you have problems of your own, get out of yourself.

That’s what the risen Jesus advises and commissions his disciples to do when he finds them “on the evening of that first day of the week” behind closed doors “for fear of the Jews”! He sends them out with the Spirit to proclaim God’s love and forgiveness.
A week later, he finds them still behind closed doors. Little wonder, then, that Thomas refused to believe that Jesus was risen. They were—in Pope Francis’ idiom—the first “Christian bats”!
They eventually do go out of the closed room. The result? They “suffer through various trials” (second reading). They also experience fellowship—sharing of material resources and spiritual moments—and growth (first reading).

A natural reaction when we are afraid is to focus inward. Sometimes the “unnatural” works better.
Moreover, our closed doors do not stop Jesus; he comes to us in our fear, doubts, confusion… with his peace and with his Spirit. He keeps returning week after week… in the word, in the bread and the wine. And he keeps sending us out of our closed rooms into a world that needs his gifts of life and peace.

What are the fears that keep me behind closed doors? What makes me a Christian bat?
May I live in the awareness that Jesus is always with me. May I get out, help those in need, and proclaim God’s love and forgiveness.

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB

EASTER SUNDAY: 09 April 2023


Readings for the Easter Vigil
Genesis 1:1—2:2; Genesis 22:1-18; Exodus 14:15—15:1; Isaiah 54:5-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15, 32—4:4; Ezekiel 36:16-28; Romans 6:3-11; Matthew 28:1-10

Readings for Mass During the Day
Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; John 20:1-9

The new pastor—fresh out of seminary—was visiting Joe, an elderly and terminally ill parishioner.
After talking about everything else, the pastor finally asked: “Joe, doesn’t it bother you? Aren’t you frightened?”
Joe smiled and said: “Padre, I know I’m not going to make it, but I’m not afraid. You see… I’ve peeked at the end of the book.”
“What do you mean?” the priest asked.
Joe replied: “Ten years ago, I had a massive heart attack. I remember the doctors thinking I was dead. I also remember the tremendous feeling of being surrounded by God’s love. The doctors revived me. Ever since that day I have been unafraid to die. I’ve been there; I’ve seen the future and it doesn’t frighten me. I know that one day soon I am going to sleep and I believe that when I awaken, I will be surrounded by God’s love.”

Joe peeked at the end of the book. And this made him unafraid to die. We have read the beginning, the end and through “the book”.
The tomb is empty. Christ is risen; he is alive. And we too, shall live… because he lives! Because of the Resurrection, we have a glimpse of the future, of what awaits us; and we can live transformed and fearless lives.

It is the Resurrection that gives meaning to our Christian life. Recall Peter’s address to the crowd on Pentecost (First Reading): he emphasizes that God raised Jesus to life. Recall how the apostles made sense of all that Jesus said and did—during his public ministry—in the light of the resurrection. Recall Paul’s words: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). We shall live… because he lives!

How do we live this new life? First, we commit ourselves to living this new life by renouncing values and ideologies contrary to the way of Jesus. Second, the risen Lord sends us to proclaim his resurrection: “Go and tell my brothers and sisters…”

How will I live like an “Easter person”?
To whom and how will I proclaim the good news of the Resurrection?

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB

PALM SUNDAY: 02 April 2023

Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14 – 27:66

Gene Smith’s book “When the Cheering Stopped” tells the tale of US President Woodrow Wilson. After World War I, Wilson was a global hero; on his first visit to Europe after the War, cheering crowds greeted him everywhere.
After a year, Wilson ran into opposition: his League of Nations was not ratified; at home, his party was defeated in the elections; in Europe, leaders were more concerned with their own agenda. As long as he “spoke” peace, Wilson was heralded as the new messiah. When he called for change that would lead to peace, the cheering stopped. Wilson became a broken man and a failure.

It’s a sad but not unfamiliar story. Jesus faced something similar during his journey to Jerusalem!
As long as Jesus fed the hungry and healed the sick, he was popular. As long as the people saw him as a political messiah, they gave him a royal welcome.
When Jesus emphasised that he was a king of love-peace and not a military hero, when he showed that he would rule through humble obedience, when he broke social and religious barriers, when he became a threat to the religious authority and political standing of some people, when he loved all people unconditionally, when he called people to change… the cheering stopped. It turned to jeering. On the cross, Jesus became (literally) a broken man and a human failure.

One who makes people feel good is popular. When one tries to translate ideals into reality, when one wants to change “feel good” to “do good”, when one challenges people to amend attitudes and action… the cheering stops.
Will I be the popular guy who makes people feel good or am I ready to be the unpopular guy who challenges people to be good? What will I do if/when the cheering stops?

I need to remember: The Jesus “story” does not end on the cross; there is the empty tomb. It does not end on Friday; it begins a new chapter on Sunday.

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB