Camel and the needle



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Gospel, Mark 10:17-27

“As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”


Yes, God alone is good because God alone is the source of all good. In today’s gospel reading, our Blessed Lord, directs the man’s compliment of ‘good teacher’ towards God. Every Jew knows that only the one true God is perfectly good. Surely, this rich man was sincere in his quest to know how to inherit eternal life. But was he sincerely willing to pursue the path of that inheritance? As his conversation  continues with the Teacher, we find that he ends up holding on to his worldly inheritance more tightly and than on to the path of eternal life. Does this situation sound familiar to you? Jesus knows very well, these inner battles…and his response is love and understanding…instead of instant condemnation. 

There will always be Christians who resemble this man. Christians who fulfil many religious obligations, obey the commandments diligently, do works of charity, be hospitable to people and so on. However, they fail to realise that God desires much more than these from the one who desires Him. By asking us to empty ourselves just as He did to this rich young man, our Lord Jesus desires that we first live as heirs of His kingdom in order to inherit His Kingdom. How can we possess something which is not rightfully ours? Following Christ, especially in our emptiness is a fact because our Lord Himself promised in 2 Cor 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. 

Most of us truly lack this one thing that our Lord desires. Total emptying of ourselves. Total abandonment to his grace. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, the camel will never pass through the eye of a needle as far as logic is concerned. But holiness is beyond logic, because we are life is beyond mortality. A person like the young & rich Francis of Assisi, who gave up his richness literally, followed and depended on His Lord Jesus totally. The one who is completely detached from everything precious, sentimental or reliable in this world. Such a child of God can hope to inherit eternal life. So, what’s it going to be? Your choice will decide your true inheritance. God bless you. Shalom!

After Fishing And Falling


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The Holy Bible is a bottomless ocean of God’s zealous and steadfast love, which nurtures the spirit of man to thrive with life in abundance. Man is greatly influenced by the world, which quite often is a result of his want to please his flesh, even if it were for a moment’s pleasure. Faith is corrupted and can even be lost when pleasure is allowed to erect false gods in man’s heart. Man permits this contriving when he willingly diminishes the reality of God for whatsoever reason(s).

There are those who outrightly reject God, His existence and the ways through which they can know about Him. There are those who limit God’s intervention in their lives, based on their needs met. Then there are also those who are self-righteous and think that they’ve attained enough ‘holiness’, and so need not bear further crosses, make no further sacrifices, give no more love and serve none anymore. 

On the other hand, those who are known to be heroes in the history of man’s salvation, impress upon men, the remarkable surrendering of their will, which so easily and so many times, was allured by the world. This they could do, persistently, because they were aware of the reality of God and of the fact that their life on earth and life in eternity, totally and completely depends on God. 

Man fishing

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the lives of two luminous witnesses of Christ, who were by no means consistent in righteousness or faithfulness to the Master they served, oh so zealously. St. Peter and St. Paul, two men chosen by our Lord Jesus, uniquely different in personalities and personal backgrounds, bestowed with unique personal vocations which will transform the world until it’s very end. 

Simon bar Jonah, an uneducated, poor, unknown, fisherman from Galilee, was called by our Lord Jesus to become his disciple while he was busy with his daily occupation – fishing. This is an interesting aspect of the Christo-methodology of recruitment of disciples in the Kingdom of God. Not only does The Lord’s calling convinces Simon to abandon his livelihood “at once” (Matthew 4:20), but it also convicts him to follow Jesus, with faith in the extraordinarily greater meaning his life would receive. 

Through the course of his earthly pilgrimage in adoration, fellowship, worship, companionship and discipleship with God Incarnate, Simon, leaves no stone unturned to disqualify himself of Divine kinship. Simon’s personal relationship with the Son of God cannot by any means be appreciated as perfect. It is actually his imperfect relationship with Jesus which stands out as living theology of Mercy in his life. At one time he ignorantly tries influencing Jesus away from the cross, another time he shows faith which makes him walk on water, but in a matter of moments he let’s his doubt begin to drown his faith. 

Another time he is fired up to die along with Christ and a short while after that he can’t even stay up for an hour in prayer with the same Christ. He receives authority of being ‘the rock’ and during the passion of his Master, he resorts to bloodshed in the garden of gethsemane. He soon ends up denying The One whom he confessed to be the Anointed One of God and finally abandons Him during His crucifixion and death. 

Saul on the other hand has an elaborate and pompous reputation among the Hebrews of that time. A man who was highly intellectual, very well read and learned, zealous for the Lord of the Israelites and an avid persecutor of this new ‘Jesus cult’. His pre-conversion resume boasts of even being a witness to the barbaric murder of the first martyr of Christianity – Stephen. Even all his knowledge, wisdom, religiosity and total obedience to The Law could not move Him to the understanding that he was persecuting Christ Himself while he persecuted His people. 

With such an illustrious background, a Law abiding Jew, Saul ended up becoming a consistent, dangerous, controversial, immensely popular and powerful threat to the very community which allowed him to not only thrive ambitiously but also commit cold blooded murders of those believing in the Messiah. While he ferociously rode to massacre the followers of Christ, Our Lord Jesus gives Saul a profound encounter with His mercy. Now, Paul, is suddenly a man out of darkness and into the marvellous light of the Living God. A man who caused immense pain and suffering to the flock of the Good Shepherd is dramatically transformed into an Apostle to the Gentiles, who is completely at peace in-spite of being bitten by poisonous snakes, stoned and beaten by mobs, shipwrecked, jailed and eventually beheaded for his witness. In his own words, he reached the end of his life as the one who faithfully ran the race of faith and awaited the crown of righteousness. 

If there is one thing every believer in Christ Jesus can trust fully about what God can do with a person who abandons himself completely to the will of God, is, that God can make a saint out of any sinner who surrenders to God. There is no achievement, no accolade, no qualification, no reputation, no wealth, no prosperity, no sacrifice, no ritual that moves God’s favour upon us. Nor is their any sin or wrong that one can ever commit which would rob us of our share of love from God, provided the sinner repents for severing the bond of being children of God. 

Saints Peter and Paul

The one who denied the Messiah, repented for his doing and in return was given the authority to be the shepherd of the Church of Christ – His mystical body. The one who wanted to wipe out every Christian from Israel, was inducted into the apostleship and was sent forth to evangelise the gentiles. 

Each one of us who believes in Christ is called to sainthood, as were Simon and Saul. Each one of us believers are given the vocation to be witnesses of Christ and make disciples of our Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit who worked powerful through Peter & Paul, is the same Spirit who is at work in us. If we consistently be docile to the Holy Spirit, every day of our lives, we will discover our path to heaven and will also be given the grace and the faith to walk on that path until our end in this world.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us. 

Tangere Domino


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Divine contact with faith, heals and makes one clean.

St. Augustine puts forth the fact that ‘the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. This can be profoundly examined and understood especially through the various instances where our Lord Jesus heals people. One such instance is in the gospel of St. Mark 5:21-34. The Lord has revealed Himself as the word in the Old Testament and in the New Testament He reveals His Divinity through His Incarnation. Christ Incarnate is the sole saviour of the world. And what He means by saving is aptly described by Pope St. John Paul II, who writes in his book, ‘Crossing the Threshold of Hope, pp 70 “…To save means to liberate from radical, ultimate evil…Through the work of the Redeemer death ceases to be an ultimate evil; it becomes subject to the power of life…And, therefore, the world cannot be a source of salvation for man. Only God saves, and He saves the whole of humanity in Christ.” The woman in Mark 5:21-34; who suffered 12 strenuous and shameful years because of an infirmity, suddenly finds herself in close proximity to salvation. The one who is an outcast to her our people, is in search of The One who knew rejection from the very womb of his virgin mother. The woman who was branded unclean, knew that by faith in Christ; who was the closest to those who were unclean, will be surely be healed by Him. The Law of the Old Covenant in the book of Leviticus 15:19-30; concerning ritually unclean women did not dilute this unnamed woman’s courage and conviction in the Messiah. She did not fail to not only acknowledge but also believe in His presence among the chosen people of God on earth, in that time of history. She spent a lot of her money in various medical care but in vain. So it is not her trust in another stint of therapeutic cure, but rather, her belief in making personal contact with the Saviour, that healed her. 

Woman with blood hemorrhage touches the hem of Jesus’ garment

What’s really unique about this encounter that we need undoubtedly pay attention to, is how our Lord ‘brings to life’ the heart of the Law given to Moses by God, for His people’s government and righteousness sake. Leviticus 15 enlists the norms about uncleanness among women going through their cycle in the month and how they are to be purified, by the Mosaic rituals, based on the duration of the uncleanness. The matter is of serious concern because whoever comes in physical contact with this unclean person automatically becomes unclean and needs spiritual purification. Until then, the unclean person would not be permitted to have, proximity with God’. The Lord on the other hand, who is the Law Himself, given to Moses, written on the tablets, has now been touched by one who is unclean. And the Law demands of the Jew, now defiled by one who who is herself contaminated, to be set apart as unclean, until purified by the rituals of the Law. But is it so in the case of our Lord? No. Christ, shows that He has truly come to set us free from the bondage of sin and death. He publicly choses to justify the action of the unclean woman of approaching God in her ‘defiled state’, which is ‘truly right and just, our duty and our salvation’ (Roman Missal – Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions – English translation formally approved in 1995) to believe in Jesus as our Lord and saviour, and that He alone can gives us salvation and freedom from every sickness, disease, infirmity and death. And that no Law on earth or in heaven can bind a believer from coming forward to receive his bounty from Jesus the Divine Healer. The Lord completely overturns a possible scandalous situation into a mighty manifestation of faith and salvation. 

The woman who lived more than a decade in a state of defilement, showed immense faith and confession of that faith, for scripture says she kept on repeating, “For if I touch his garments, I will be healed” Mark 5:28. It was not mere determination to approach Jesus to touch at-least his garment, but it was more of her faith that she will surely be healed if she touched the hem of the Lord’s garment. That is precisely what she was constantly assuring her mind. Sickness, disease or near death situations can numb our faith by letting our mind over power us. It happens to the best of us. But a faithful and repeated confession of  God’s word will act as a weapon against the blows of doubt and anxiety. The question which the Lord asked His disciples; when He knew someone touched Him, was not simply a logical one, as the disciples had thought, because the Lamb of God was surrounded by a large crowd of people, pushing and brushing each other’s way to follow him on his way. The question which was a result of Him perceiving that power had gone forth from Him – Mark 5:30, was infinitely more significant than just ‘who touched me’. It meant, who manifested this mountainous faith in Me, this impenetrable belief in Me. Who defied society, risking excommunication and a possible life of solitude for the sake of salvation? But of-course, as the disciples were themselves caught in the rush of the crowd around our Lord, they could not instantly fathom what their Master was inquiring? The Lord, instead, was as though, eager and excited to see the child who came believing in the Son of the Father.

Fear of the world will always suppress faith. Fear of God will always destroy fear  contracted from the world. The enemy – the devil; uses fears, sicknesses, diseases, infirmities, anxieties, doubts, guilt, low self-esteem, and so on as heavy blows upon the faith of the believer. The Son of man has “overcome the world” – John 16:33, and therefore has brought salvation into this world. In other words, true and real freedom from the most radical and ultimate evil – death, as John Paul II reminded us. The unclean woman was healed because of her faith, as the Lord affirmed it to her Himself, by saying, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” Mark 5:34. The world today is repeatedly attacked by evil in various forms. The most current being the coronavirus pandemic. All of humanity has to avoid social contact, stay sanitised, take necessary precautions of personal hygiene, in order to stop the chain of infection. The faithful face a catastrophic – temporary unavailability of the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. Nonetheless, the Lord, reminds us, as well as, assures us gently, as He did the woman in this passage of scripture, of the gift of salvation which He has given us freely. Though the woman approached Jesus with trembling and fear of being reprimanded, was surprisingly received with compassion by the Saviour in whom she so firmly believed, with acceptance of not only her faith but also her public act of faith. In the same manner, may all who suffer, irrespective of its tenure, may we never shy to touch Jesus in His flesh, through worthy reception of the holy communion and in spirit through the other sacraments. And when in a time of social lock-down, may we do so worthily, faithfully, fearlessly, through spiritual communion and prayer. The Lord is with us, until the end of time – Matthew 28:20. Believe and work out your salvation.

John Roger Anthony – Catholic Lay Missionary
He’s been actively involved in building parish communities, children, youth and adults since 20 years. As a retreat preacher, motivational speaker and moral counsellor, Roger has made a tremendous and positive impact in the lives of thousands in India and abroad.
Many of the recipients of Roger’s charisms of Preaching, Teaching, Spiritual Counselling and Personality building have come out of the darkness of depression, relationship bondages, suicidal tendencies, emotional trauma due to sexual and emotional abuse. These also include consecrated men and women.
If you are inspired to support Roger’s ministry then please email to

Narrow Garden


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pope francis

Harvesting from the fraternal wisdom of His Holiness Pope Francis.

In every age, we find certain motifs of human dispensation in leadership, standing out as though a heritage, passed on by the preceding generation to the succeeding one. The motifs of seeking self glory, rigidness to personal ideologies, high handedness, vanity and indifference towards unwilted concepts. At times, fatally obsessed with the latter, such ‘detached’ leaders; succumb to the ethical and spiritual paralyses which can follow the pursuit of these motifs. It is a chronic disease that has extensively punctured the immunity sphere of numerous Christian and Non-Christian leaders across the globe. Considering irrelevant; their feats or accomplishments in the ‘service of the Church’.

Pope Francis in his ‘Address to a meeting of the Congregation of Bishops’, introduced a savoury appetiser to the contemplative, which has the potential to call the bluff of their so called discernment of people/person by spiritual leaders. Characterising those who would be ideal for episcopal ministry, His Holiness said, “we need someone who knows how to raise himself to the height of God’s gaze above us in order to guide us to Him. We need those who, knowing the broad scope of God is more than his own narrow garden, can guarantee us that what they aspire to is our hearts, and not a vain promise.”

To rise above one’s selfish personal agenda and work towards the collective aspirations of those entrusted to one’s care, needs the willingness to submit to the goodness of humility. Just like how a variety of flowers bloom in a well nurtured garden, so should the wisdom, love and piety of a pastor or a lay leader bring forth the splendour of diverse fruits of the Holy Spirit in the service of the Church.

Ever since antiquity, God has always trumped man’s intellect and wisdom. Even a faithful servant of God, such as the prophet Samuel, could not at first instance, believe the choice God made in David, to be anointed as King. The faithful and fruit bearing servant of God, Samuel too, allowed the eyes of his flesh to influence his discernment of God’s will for Israel new King. And God spares no time in ‘raising Samuel’s gaze to His vantage, and then the prophet rightly understood that David, though is now still a shepherd boy, truly is the one to lead God’s first born – Israel (cf.1 Samuel 16:1-13).

In the case of the first Bishops, instituted by our Blessed Lord Jesus Himself, at one point, as His Apostles, some were debating (rather disappointingly; to say the least), about who should sit on either side of Him in heaven (cf. Mark 10:37). It is not an uncommon feature among followers or disciples or even workmen under a manager, to be carried away by a charismatic leader, so much so, that there begins an unhealthy attachment towards him. Such an attachment blinds one’s mind and heart to the actual mission of the leader as well as their own. In the case of our Lord Jesus, His Apostles became blind to an important fact of the Incarnated Word. That what He does is the will of the Father and not His own. And by humbling Himself, He desired humility, especially from those whom He personally called for a life such as His.

This blindness towards the scope of God’s will, power, providence, love and mercy, and every other attribute in His nature of Godliness, is a sure and wide path to lead God’s people into eternal darkness and loss of perfect union with God. Stewards of God’s mystical body on earth, both clergy and laity, should realise the reality of implicit accountability that comes with the responsibility & authority received by them from God, over His people and also their temporal resources. A fiery and persevering personal relationship with Christ, the epitome of leading people to God, with the knowing of God’s mind & heart for His children, assures the manifestation of the counsel needed from God, to be stewards of His dynamism in the flourishing of His immeasurable, life-filled garden on earth; the Church. 

St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Basil, St. Ambrose, St. Celement, St. Leo the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and also the likes of St. Joan of Arc, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John Paul II, St. John XXIII and the litany of saints who discovered their Christian calling and consequently allowed themselves to become slaves of God’s will for the people vouchsafed to them, is never ending, and never ceases to inspire all generations. They all tread the path of higher knowledge and wisdom, love and compassion, reason and spirituality, only because they chose to deny the luxury and deceiving impregnability of their narrow garden.


Some flowers produce distinct, exotic and tantalising aromas, some provide healing elements, some; beauty to landscape and some substance to other creates. All these together make a flourishing garden, where birds find a haven to lift their voices to the heavens, beauty appealing with inspirations to the creativity of our human mind, and above all, giving us glimpses of the complexity and at the same time subtlety of God’s beautiful plan for His children. Just as the garden does not exclude thorns and bushes which may be less attractive than flowers, people whose hearts and minds are filled with deception are also part of this world which God created. Nonetheless, as an seasoned gardener would pick only that from the garden which adds to the greater purpose of beautification and fruitfulness of the environment, having pruned the thorns and weeds, so much so does God expects His forerunners, His leaders and His teachers to fix their eyes, mind and heart on His greater purpose  and pick those who will become instruments of fulfilling the ongoing work of salvation.

Detachment is absolutely necessary for the people of God, in order to know God and also His purpose in their lives. Dwelling in his own comfort, especially when a Christian is called to lead a congregation, shutting his/her mind to the plan of God, which He chooses to work out through different peoples, is a massive blow to the prospering of The Kingdom on earth. Such a dwelling in comfort is, what St. John of the Cross describes as when the leader is tormented and afflicted as is a man lying naked on thorns and nails, if he chooses to recline on his appetites, rejecting zealousness towards God’s greater purpose.

If you are a leader in the vineyard of The Lord, then view the world and the Kingdom of God from the vantage point of God. Ask God to grant you the grace to be open to His zestfulness, and fulfil His scope of work in the economy of salvation, instead of being imprisoned in the decorative narrow garden of self-righteousness, false humility, relativity and modernism. 

John Roger Anthony

Catholic Lay Missionary




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The will of God

Conforming our body, mind and soul to holiness.

“God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel’ (Sir 15:14), so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 1730. This teaching of the Church is followed by an illustrious quote of St. Iranaeus of Lyon, “Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.

The source of the creation of man is the will of God. This prompts us to the truth that God has a will. He willed everything into creation, into being. ‘He saw everything that He created and said it was good. Man He created and said it was very good.’ There is no reference in Holy Scriptures or the teaching of the Church, which speaks in contrast about the goodness of the will of God. According to the angelic doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, God does not only have intellect but also has a will.

By creating the human person in His holy image and likeness, God has established an indelible mark of uniqueness upon man which sets him apart from every other created creature in heaven or earth. God’s intention and will for this superior being (man) has always been that of love, abundance and intimate union with Him. God’s choicest blessings poured upon man is categorically expressed when He says to him, “Behold I have given you…everything that has the breath of life” (Genesis 1:29-30). For because of man’s disobedience, he forfeited the dominion which God gave him, and his soul throughout every generation there-on cries, “restore us to yourself , O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old” (Lamentations 5:18).


Now, after having severed his intimate union with his Creator, man found himself in the frightful need of his salvation. In the very depth of his conscience, man hears the deafening warning of God, “they do not say in their hearts, let us fear the Lord our God…and your sins have kept good from you” (Jeremiah 5:24-25); which strangely also sounds as a bugle of hope for the one who repents truly and desires eternal union with God. It is only because man is loved the most by God, for he is a creature most lovingly created by God, the truth in the words of Blessed John Henry Newman will echo until the end of time, “I am created to do something or to be someone for which no one else is created; I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has… God knows me and calls me by my name.”

Having created us that we may have joy, God the Father, through His beloved Son Jesus, desires that we be wholly and fully united with Him for eternity, that our joy be complete (John 15:11). What is good, acceptable and perfect in the sight of God is the will of God for man (Romans 12:2). Therefore, St. Francis of Assisi, exulting in the Holy Spirit, cried out, “This is what I want, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do, with all my heart!”

Our words, thoughts and actions should correspond with the will of God. We’ve understood what the will of God for us is that we may be one with Him for we have been formed by him. Such a correspondence to the will of God requires perseverance. To persevere and not give up in glorifying God by conforming to His perfect will for us each day of our lives, is the mark of a man truly reciprocating love to the Father, through Jesus Christ. How does one understand what pleases God and honours His will in our lives? St. Ignatius answers this most eloquently saying, “Better than anyone else, the Holy Spirit will teach you how to taste with the heart and carry out with sweetness what reason shows to be for the greater service and glory of God.”

The human spirit experiences perfect peace in submitting to will of God. When man understood the power of the beatitudes and found it relevant for all generations, (practiced even by those before Christ; who learnt it from the veiled words of the prophets of God), he believed that the hand of God’s hope, deliverance, justice, mercy and peace will flow even out of the horrors such as the holocaust, world wars, genocides, abortions, abominations, sacrilegious, slavery and so on. St. Gregory Nazianzen therefore justly proclaimed, “Voluntas tua pax nostra” – “In your will is our peace”. God’s word attests this as truth when He speaks through His prophet saying, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). We become the brothers, mothers, sisters and fathers of our Blessed Lord Jesus when we do the will of God, (Mark 3:35).

That we may live a life worthy of the Lord, the saints pray for us, as St. Paul’s says, “we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9-12). Even though the will of God may seem strange and unacceptable by those who live by the flesh. Obedience to that perfect will is the food for the body, heart, soul and spirit of the righteous. It silences “the ignorant talk of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15). “From the rising of the sun to its setting” (Roman Missal), may every human heart and mouth proclaim, Matthew 6:10, “Let Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”



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Valuables and invaluables, life gains momentum by the thrust of both. Or does it really?  Except for the ones who are homeless, utterly poor, or afflicted with desperation, excluding them, the rest of the population in almost every part of the world, spends on things and services which are not in anywhere relative to their income. There is no estimation of what’s available at our disposal to make a much ever short or long lived that life may be.

Historians believe or rather claim that it took around 2000 years…yes, you read it right, 20 centuries to finish building the great wall of China. According to a 2009 estimation, it would have costed £54 billion to build this 13, 171 mile structure. The two year executive education program run by the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania costed a student a whopping $192,900 in 2016. Brian Acton tweeted this on Aug 4, 2009, “Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next great adventure.” And then he moved on to created a multi-billion dollar company called ‘Whatsapp’. Whether you’re ambition soars as high as building a wonder of the world or you aspire to graduate with the most expensive degree offered in the world, so that you earn the highest salary ever offered, or you wish to multiply the wealth of your enterprise by investing in a pathbreaking business idea, any of this will demand of you to make an estimate  of what you have, what you can give, what you can expect in return and what it will make of you in the end. An intricate due diligence of the sacrifices to be made, challenges to be faced, obstacles to be overcome, so on and so forth.


No matter how great is the desire of your heart, is there any desire that can cost you your life and yet let you keep it? There’s none such desire save one. The desire to be a disciple of Christ. Being a disciple of Christ, not merely a follower, comes with an incomparable cost…your very life. In today’s world, more than ever, money plays a very important role in acquiring or possessing comfort or luxury. In the ancient of days as well, money in the form that it was used, played a significant role in determining the standard of living. In the Old Testament however, we learn a very unique role of money, which directly influenced the state of the soul. In ancient Israel, BEKAH, SHEKEL AND TALENT were important currency. Bekah has special significance because it was used as atonement money, for the service of the Tabernacle. From the age of twenty and above, every Jew had to pay half a shekel of silver (1 Bekah) as a ransom for his soul. The Lord promised them that there would be no plague upon them if they paid this tax faithfully (Ex 30:12:14).

A Disciple of Christ is called to renounce himself/herself completely. There is nothing so dear or precious in this world than his Lord Himself, for a disciple to hold on to. The Lord categorically explains the COST OF DISCIPLESHIP in His own words in Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has, cannot be my disciple”. This cost estimation preludes with a very severe warning. Luke 14:26 says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brother and sister, yes, and even his own life, he CANNOT [emphasis added by me] be my disciple“. In our case, after reading this, and in the case of the great crowds that accompanied Him (Luke 14:25), after listening to Him, we all might be tempted to re-think about fulfilling the 4th commandment given by God Himself. However, there is no love on earth or in heaven that the human heart can experience and reciprocate to, than the love for God and fulfillment of His word, while at the same time obeying every commandment of His. There is none greater than God and therefore there is none that we should obey first than God Himself. The crowds, no matter how great, followed The Lord for miracles, food, astounding speeches and discourses, love and even an escape from their day-to-day tensions.


Are we the same, one among the crowds, or even worse, among the mob that follows Him to trap Him, attack Him and then finally abandon Him. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life. It is in giving that we receive. It is in loving that we are loved much more. It is in forgiving that we are soaked in Divine Mercy. It is in total abandonment to God and absolute emptying of oneself do we become Disciples of Christ. No ambition, no career, no relationship, no wealth, no prosperity can atone our soul, except for the cost that was paid by the Son of the living God. Only 1 Bekah each was so precious that it could atone for their souls, among the chosen people of GOd. In the case of you and me however, it was not money (as underestimated by Judas), rather t’was One soul that had the power to atone and redeem all souls, starting from the beginning of time and until the end of it. That One soul, that one Bekah of the Divine economy, is Jesus Christ. The perfect estimate, most accurate for salvation of all mankind. Life Himself in return for all life.

So, just like the temple money had to be Jewish and could not be Roman money (which had pagan images), the cost of Discipleship has to be our own lives (the image of God) and not any holocaust or vain sacrifice (pagan). So, let us not undervalue the cost that our Lord paid for our eternal freedom and life, let us not underestimate the work of grace, which empowers us to pay the singular cost of discipleship. Because everything else, as King Solomon – the richest of all, once said, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.

~ John Roger Anthony




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Love may cost something to somebody and it may not cost anything to anybody. Either of these could be true if love is quantifiable. Is love quantifiable? What is the unit or measure?

As a Catholic, I believe that love is a person. This belief was taught to me by the Word of God. 1 John 4:16b specifically states that ‘God is love’. God is a person. God is infinite. Therefore, love is ‘infinite persona’. Love is not simply a feeling or an emotion that articulates a thought or feeling or sentiment or need. Through God’s love poured out in man, man lives love. He illuminates this innate characteristic of the Triune God in ways which not only satiates human faculties but also enflames the soul within.

Among the greats of ancient philosophers, Aristotle believed that in-order to love another person one needs to know how to love one’s own self. This should not be understood as selfishness because Aristotle makes is very clear that self-love for him means that which is expressed in the love of virtue. In other words, this great Greek philosopher cautions about the danger of a person’s pursuit of self-love by means of seeking and acquiring self-pleasures, wealth, power, which runs every risk of exploding into a life of bad habits, bondages, vices and evil. Self-love by the love of virtue teaches true means of loving the another person. Irrespective of whether that person is your beloved or a stranger. Why should we love our own selves, because God’s word says, “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well (Psalm 139:14). Having God as our creator is enough for us to love ourselves. This is true in the case of every human person.

If we love ourselves by love of virtue and hence learn to rightly and sincerely love one another, then we will have no ambiguity about how to love those who have ‘died, yet will live forever’. The souls of the faithful departed await the beatific vision by a ‘fiery purification’ from every stain of sin, in purgatory. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a, “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It further teaches that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).


(Pic: Jacopo Vignali’s portrait of St. Michael the Archangel freeing the souls in purgatory)

Purgatory is not only the realm of purification of those who have died in God’s grace and friendship, but is also a temporary abode of souls who experience indescribable thirst for an ‘indispensable act of love’ by the souls living on earth. This indispensable act of love is praying for the souls in purgatory. This act emanates only from the love of virtue, by the very example of the Son of God, Jesus. Christ the perfect mediator and spotless vessel of prayer to the Father for the living and the dead, teaches us to pour out our love to the souls in purgatory by praying for them and offering small and big sacrifices, the biggest being the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist.

We are commanded by our Lord Jesus to love another as He loves us, (John 13:34-35). ‘One another’ does not end with the people on earth, but reaches far beyond time and space, into the realm of God’s chosen, who are soon, not yet, about to ‘live in the presence of God’. These suffering souls, “who are detained”, as articulated by St. Basil the Great, long for our love through our prayers and sacrifices. This ‘All Souls Day’ onwards, let us daily, in the words of St. John Chrysostom, “help and commemorate” these beloved, suffering children of God. 

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. +

~ John Roger Anthony


Love Glorifies Suffering

Accepting various realities of life is possible with the right disposition towards those realities. Whether it is done so as a community of people or as oneself, with or without the comfort or security of the obvious things of earthly living, relationships, familiar environments, etc. There is one of many, peculiar reality of life, which not only is life altering but something that makes life defining, at the very core of it. That is the reality of suffering.

Some overcome suffering by either denying its importance (Stoicism) or its very existential reality (Spinoza), or further more by consciously seeking the self or that someone’s passing away from this world. No matter what the human mind prompts as a resolve towards one’s suffering, this intrinsically personal aspect of human life cannot be ignored or evaded each time it knocks the gates of our mortality. The world as we know, has since its inception, been the stage for human suffering in gastronomical measures. Some so intrinsically evil that recounting those ghastly episodes evoke a great measure of psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma. Mass murders, the holocaust, genocides, rape, continual spree of abortions (in some places by very crude practices), forced starvation, forced economic deprivation by lords of war and corruption, and the list keeps getting bloodier.


Ap Photo Dmitry Lovetsky

Many philosophical and religious schools of thought have proposed soul traversing ideologies and paradigms about this in-expendable reality called suffering. A mammoth figure of Christian light to all generations, St. Augustine believed and taught the classic philosophical view of evil which states that since everything created was created by God and He called it all ‘good’ (Genesis 1:31), evil is not self existent, but rather is the absence of good. This essentially being a neoplatonic doctrine has a historic presence in Jewish philosophy as well.


Antonio Rodríguez, “Saint Augustine”

So, if we look at suffering through the lens of St. Augustine, then we should believe that where there is no good, which in other words, through authentic Catholic verbatim, would mean an absence of authentic beatitudes, the suffering becomes real and many a times overwhelming too. Therefore, this Augustinian principle should naturally evoke in us the quintessential necessity of good in everyday life, in every culture, upon every soil. This ‘good’, however, is in fact, the fruit of the cause of creation in its known and unknown entirety. That cause is agape. Love, which is ‘the Creator’ Himself, God. Which is from the Creator, for the created, leading towards the certainty of eternity. 

The love of God is the stimulus for real balance in the world. It is the source of knowing God as He is (1 John 4:7). It is not only the perfect and only rightful abode of the human soul, it is also on the other hand that which transforms the soul into the most desired sanctuary of God for His eternal dwelling. “If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4: 12). Now that we know that it is love which cements the human soul in concreteness with God, it is the luminous light which should and can perpetually exterminate the darkness of evil, which is the good as God conceived it in His immaculate and holy mind.

The economy of this God-epitomised love does not create perfection of balance in world existence, it beautifully creates a rather a peculiar imbalance that progresses the soul’s upward pilgrimage to heaven in a way which is forever alien to the mind enslaved to the world. This love reaches its pinnacle in the ‘theo-phenomena’ of the Incarnation. The Incarnation is Truth and Love glorified. The Incarnation is Truth and Love personified. It is the perfection of good. It is a person. The person is Jesus Christ, the only begotten fruit of God the Father. It is this God-Man, Son of the living God, the eternal Good of His Father, who glorified immeasurable suffering by making it the only source of man’s salvation. The cup of suffering has been made into the chalice of His holy blood, poured out for the redemption of you and me, and as a ransom for eternal life in true freedom. 


Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Christ our beloved Lord, the second person in the Holy Trinity, personalises suffering as a virtuous means of attaining God Himself. What the world uses (suffering) as an instrument to inflict pain, sorrow, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, isolation, animosity and even death – even ignominious in kind, the source of all good – God the Son, actually embraces this bottomless pit of darkness (suffering) as an innocent child might merely imagine to embrace a whole garden of exquisite flowers. When Satan, the one who was first to rebuke Perfect Love, and was cast out of the Beatific Presence of the Almighty Creator, looks at suffering as an opportunity to drag the human soul into his eternal abyss of self-hate, the God-Head Jesus, commanded suffering into a spring of His Holy Blood, which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI so eloquently phrased it as – ‘transubstantiating the world’.

Suffering not only triumphs over evil, it inspires life itself. Suffering not only elevates the soul into the spiritual realm, but also brings hope into the material world. Suffering not only makes shame immaterial, it makes persecution glorious. But all this can be rightly attested to suffering, only when it is embodied in love. Love suffers for goodness sake. Goodness aspires to godliness. Godliness transforms suffering in the world into holiness.

~ J R A

Wounded Christ Wounded Church

The human family comes together in times of celebration as well in times of crisis. I am sure you have witnessed this people characteristic when given the opportunity. Celebration and crisis provoke a flood of emotions and ideas within minds and are detrimental to how we conduct ourselves in those circumstances. 

As Christians, we know that we are truly more than just a human family, we are members of the body of Christ. The Church (Catholic) which is the beacon of the Truth on earth, the moral and spiritual compass of souls, is not only the ‘Corpus Christi’, but is also a powerful institution, an organisation which lubricates the levitation of human souls from their earthly realm to the heavenly kingdom. The organisation has been robust with pragmatic leaders and history makers (for many a good reason as well as not so good ones). 

suffering christ

The mystical body of Christ – the Church has scars of suffering and persecution, it also has the stench of abuse and scandal. The human body of Christ bore the most heaviest of burdens (sin) upon it’s immaculate self. It witnessed the trauma of public ridicule, threats to life, mockery, and unimaginable beating before it could face the ignominious pain of death on a cross. The human heart and mind of our Lord Jesus has experienced great joy and great sorrow, unmatched wisdom and knowledge. By the ‘descend of the Holy Spirit’, Christ has bestowed upon the grace and power to withstand sorrow and be deserving of much joy. 

Today, as the Church is witnessing a very testing time, I cant but stop myself from asking a question which directly also questions my conscience. Child molestation by the clergy and the cover-up of this ghastly crime and abomination by high ranking clergymen like Bishops and Cardinals, has left a pain in my very gut. Without getting into the details of how this evil, this shameful attribution of our holy Mother Church, has been perpetrated, repeated and immorally covered-up, I would swiftly bring to attention the necessity of a robust life of personal holiness. A promise of unfailing commitment to sacramental life. To undeterred hope in the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit and to humble and prayerful faithfulness to the Vicar of Christ (Pope) on earth. 

pope francis

I am Catholic, because my Lord and Saviour Jesus chose me to be one. I am Catholic because He has poured His abundance of love and mercy in my life through His wounded yet holy Church. I am Catholic because I confirmed my faithfulness to her with God as my witness and vowed to be faithful to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till death do me part. 

It is time for me and you my beloved Christian, to be Jesus on earth. It is time to put that lamp of faith upon high ground that all may see and follow. It is time to mingle the salt of righteousness in the soil of folly so that the seekers of truth may find Christ even if the passing fog of scam and evil veils the eyes of our hearts and minds. 

~ J R A

War cry of the Ash

Ancient Greek groups were famously known for bravely marching towards their enemy in their organized phalanx formations. They did so by singing hymns or ‘paeans’ as they would call it, to invoke upon the god Apollos for courage and ease their nerves. But as they came closer to the enemy they would cease singing the hymns and voice loud battle cries like “Alala!” or “Eleleu!” while banging their weapons against their shields to rattle their enemy horses.


The ancient Roman legions were known for marching silently in their ranks, but at the sight of their enemy their battle cries would erupt like the sound of a stampeding elephant. They borrowed “Barritus”, a war cry of the Germanic warriors, many of whom had joined the Romans. An ancient chronicler Tacitus described the Barritus as a “harsh, intermittent roar” and highlighted that the legions would “hold their shields in front of their mouths, so that the sound is amplified into a deeper crescendo by the reverberation.


To seize the Holy Lands from the Muslims, Pope Urban II launched the ‘Crusades’ in 1095 by urging Europeans Christians to under this spiritual quest. Charged by the Pontiff’s speech, the crowd now known as ‘Crusaders’ are said to have hollered “Deus hoc vult!” (“God wills it!”) in support. This Pope sanctioned slogan remained the war cry of the Christian warriors until the late 13th century when the Crusades finally ended.

There are numerous examples from history such as the above, of warriors and their legions shredding the spirits of their enemies with dreadful war cries. These loud and intimidating slogans before launching their bloody attack has in many instances defeated the enemy even before actual physical or artillery combat could commence. The book of Joshua in the Old Testament testifies the power of the sound of his armies trumpets which brought down the walls of Jericho. The eerie truth of conquering the city and the spirit if its defenders without even lifting any weapon yet.

Today, on Ash Wednesday, I see a strange yet compelling similarity between ‘ashes on a Christian’s forehead’ and a war cry. Biblical history speaks volumes of the significance and use of ashes. It usually remarks it to be a sign of deep mourning and repentance. A sign of shame and abandonment of oneself to the mercy of God.

As the Priest marks a child of God with ash on the forehead or the scalp, the penetant is reminded that “dust thou art, unto dust thou shall return”. A profound yet austere reminder of nothingness of the self, of the irrevocable necessity of humility, of truthful repentance and the ultimate self abandonment to Divinae Misericordiae (Divine Mercy). 


St. Thomas Aquinas teaches “Penance is virtue” and this Angelic Doctor of the Church through his magnum treatise “Summa Theologia” assures every sinner that the power of Christ’s passion “through which Penance produces its effect” is such that no sin is incapable of being pardoned through the sacrament of Penance. The mark of the ashes on the forehead is a great outward sign of repentance but is also a cry of battle by the Militant Church against her ‘Enemy’ Satan. Repentance is the fruit humility. God exalts the humble and draws them ever closer to his glory. Therefore, by wearing of Ashes during the holy season of Lent we not only surrender ourselves in humility at the merciful judgement of God, trust in God’s eternal loving kindness by repenting for our sins, but also holler (ironically without even making a sound) a terrible battle cry against Satan and his demonic legions. A battle against sin and it’s master with the unconquerable power of grace, and impenetrable armor of the word of God, prayer, alms giving, fasting and sacramental life.

This holy season of Lent, put on the ashes as your promise of repentance and also be a warrior of God, with the banner of Christ, humbly surrendering only to the holy will of God and charge forth victoriously against the attacks of Satan and win glory for Kingdom of God Most High.