Fifth Sunday of Easter by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

Easter V [C] (May 5): Acts 14:21-27; Rv 21:1-5a; Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

Introduction: Today’s readings are about renewal and new things: The New Jerusalem, a new Heaven and a new earth, and a new commandment


The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how the small Christian communities helped the work of renewal in their members by their agápe love, imitating the agápe love of Paul and Barnabas.

The second reading, from the Book of Revelation, explains how God renews His Church, the New Jerusalem, by being present in her members, in their parish communities, and in their liturgical celebrations. “See, I am making all things new.”

Today’s Gospel passage gives us the secret of Christian renewal as the faithful practice of Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:35). Jesus has added a new element to the Old Testament command of love by teaching us that the true test of discipleship is to love other people in the same way that he has loved us, with sacrificial, selfless, self-giving,  unconditional, agápe love.  Hence, the renewal of Christian life means a radical change of vision and a reordering of our priorities in life. Such a renewal brings us to embrace new attitudes, new values, and new standards of relating to God, to other people and, indeed, to our whole environment.

Life messages:

1) Let us learn to love ourselves so that we may learn to love each other. The old commandment (Lv. 19:1-2, 9-18) says: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We cannot learn to cherish others and care for them if we have never learned to do the same for ourselves. We live in a world that denies our basic human worth. How do we reclaim our basic worth? We can become whole and holy only when we learn to love ourselves properly, acknowledging the fact that we are children of God and that the Triune God resides in our souls, making our bodies the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”

2) Let us love others in our daily lives:  We are asked to love as Jesus loved, in the ordinary course of our lives.  We love others by responding to their everyday needs with love and compassion. We love others by comforting and protecting those who have experienced loss.  We love others by serving others in every possible way, no matter how small, seeing the face of Jesus in them.  We love others by forgiving rather than condemning, by challenging rather than condoning.  Finally, we love others by sacrificially sharing our time, talents, and blessings with them.  

3) Let us demonstrate our love for others in our gatherings and parish assemblies: When we are assembled as a religious or social community, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our love for one another.  People must see Christians as people who interact with a love and concern for one another that reveals their strong love and appreciation for each other.  They should see in us a quickness to appreciate and readiness to forgive, even as Christ has forgiven us.

Good Shepherd Sunday/Mother’s Day

by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

The fourth Sunday of Easter, known as Good Shepherd Sunday, is also the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.” The Scripture lessons for this day concern the role of the shepherds of God’s flock in the Church. Each year on this Sunday, we reflect on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who devotedly and kindly takes care of his flock. The title “pastor” means shepherd.  A shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects his flock—responsibilities that belong to every Church leader.  The earliest Christians saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the ancient Jewish dream of the Good Shepherd Who also wished to include the Gentiles as part of God’s flock.  

Life Messages: Let us become good shepherds and good sheep, good leaders and good followers. (1) Let us become good shepherds:  Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd.  Hence pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, etc. are all shepherds.  We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. 

(2) Let us be good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parish is our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds.   Hence, as the good sheep of the parish, parishioners are expected to a) hear and follow the voice of their shepherds through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling and advice;  b) receive the spiritual food their pastors provide by regular participation in the Holy Mass, by frequenting the Sacraments and by attending prayer services, renewal programs, and missions;  c) cooperate with their pastors by giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish, by encouraging them in their duties, by lovingly offering them constructive criticism when they are found misbehaving or failing in their duties, and by praying for them and forgiving them at need; and d) cooperate in the activities of various councils, ministries, and parish associations. (3) Let us pray for vocations to priesthood, the Diaconate,  and the  consecrated life so that we may have more good shepherds to lead, feed and protect the Catholic community.

The role of mothers in our lives: This is a day to admit gratefully the fact that none of us is able to return, in the same measure, all the love that our mothers have given us. Their influence on their children is so great that it affects the children throughout their lives. Our mothers not only gave us birth but nursed us, nurtured us, trained us in their religious beliefs and practices, taught us good manners and ideal behavior, disciplined us as best as they could, and made us good citizens of our country, our Church, and our society. There is a beautiful Spanish proverb: “An ounce of mother is better than a pound of clergy.” Hence, it is highly proper for us to express our love and gratitude to our mothers by our presence (if possible), gifts, and prayers on Mother’s Day. We offer this Eucharistic celebration on Mother’s Day for all the mothers in our congregation, whether they are alive here or have gone for their eternal reward.   The word “Mom” is synonymous with sacrificial, agápe love in its purest form, as commanded by Jesus in his farewell speech: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Hence, let us lavish our love on our mothers and express our gratitude for them in the form of fervent prayers offered for them before God.

A Prayer for Mothers

Our mothers are earthbound angels

Sent by God above

To give our lives direction

And fill our hearts with love.

They have no wings or halos

And yet they are divine,

For years of toil and sacrifice

Have rendered them sublime.

So, mothers, may God bless you

Wherever you may be,

For the gift of love, you gave us

Lives on eternally!

Thank you mother: Thank you, dear Lord, for our mothers: who were brave enough to give us birth, who loved us through many growing-up years, who taught us about God and love and being good, who often got no thanks, whose ears could hear the slightest cry, whose eyes didn’t miss much either, whose hands held and bathed and picked us up, whose hearts were often broken, who always forgave and forgot, who encouraged us when things went badly, who always had time to listen to us, who worked so hard to make things go well, who made the world so much better — who deserve our love on Mother’s Day and every day even for eternity. Amen.

Easter III [C] (May 1) by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

Introduction: Today’s Gospel narrative shows us the rehabilitation of Peter, who denied Jesus three times in the courtyard of Caiaphas, repented, and then received Primacy in the Church from Jesus. The Gospel also shows us God in search of man, even when man tries to evade Him.

Scripture lessons:

The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us how the Holy Spirit transformed Peter, whom Jesus had appointed head of his Church, from a man fearful of powerful men into a brave witness to the Resurrection. Peter stands before the Jewish Supreme Court – the Sanhedrin – boldly announcing that he and the others must obey God rather than men.

 The second reading, taken from Revelation (the Apocalypse), presents John’s vision of the Risen Lord as the glorified “Lamb of God,” enthroned in Heaven.  The whole of Revelation is an expression of Christian hope in the Risen Lord.

Today’s Gospel tells the post-Resurrection story of our merciful Savior Who goes in search of His band of disappointed and dejected disciples. The incident proves that Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances were not mere hallucinations.  In the first part of today’s Gospel, the risen Jesus appears to His disciples and gives them a symbol of their mission in a miraculous catch of fish followed by a grilled fish breakfast prepared by Jesus himself. The second part is a dialogue between Jesus and Simon where Simon is asked three times whether he loves Jesus, and he answers that he does, as if in reparation for his triple denial of Jesus.

The two metaphors used in the story, namely fishing and shepherding, are the duties of the Church in her missionary work. Peter, as a forgiven sinner, is chosen for the quality of his love to serve as leader in a community of brothers and sisters. As his primary mission, Peter is given the care of the vulnerable lambs and sheep, and he is told that fidelity to this mission will lead him to martyrdom.

Life messages: We need to open our eyes, ears and hearts wide to see, hear, and experience the Risen Lord coming into our lives in various forms, circumstances, and events:

1) The Risen Lord blesses us with success and achievements.  We often fail to acknowledge the presence of the Risen Lord behind our unexpected successes, great achievements, promotions at work, miraculous healings, and success in relationships.  He is right there in our parties, celebrations, and occasions of rejoicing.

 2) The Risen Lord is present in our pains and suffering: Acts 9:1-13 tells us how the Risen Lord transformed the life of Saul by pushing him down onto the Damascus Road and making him temporarily blind.  The same Jesus often visits us in the form of accidents, illnesses, the loss of dear ones, pain, suffering, and problems in relationships.

3) The Risen Lord visits us through our friends and well-wishers: He is present in those who visit us and encourage us in our sad and desperate moments.  The Risen Lord visits us in the form of unexpected help from the least expected persons in our dire needs.

4) The Risen Lord is present in our Christian worship: He is present on our altars during the Holy Mass to share His life with us; He is present in the words of Holy Scripture; He is there in the Sacraments, and He is there where two or three are gathered in his name (Mt 18: 20).

Easter II – Divine Mercy Sunday by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

(Acts 5:12-16; Rv 1:9-11a, 12-13,17-19; Jn 20:19-31)

Introduction The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith, and our need for the forgiveness of our sins.  The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of everlasting Mercy.”  In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “His mercy endures forever!” God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, in sending His only begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord through His suffering, death, and Resurrection.  Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments (all instituted to sanctify us) , especially that of Reconciliation. 

Mercy during tragedy: The news is filled with illustrations of mercy—or the need for mercy—in our world. One of the most moving stories came to us on October 6, 2006, when an armed man entered an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He chased out the little boys and lined up the 10 little girls in front of the blackboard. He shot all of them and then killed himself. Five of the girls died. After the medics and police left, the families of the fallen came and carried their slain children home. They removed their bloody clothes and washed the bodies. They sat for a time and mourned their beloved children. After a while they walked to the home of the man who killed their children. They told his widow they forgave her husband for what he had done, and they consoled her for the loss of her spouse. They buried their anger before they buried their children. — Amish Christians teach us that forgiveness is central. They believe in a real sense that God’s forgiveness of themselves depends on their extending forgiveness to other people. That’s what the mercy of God is all about. That mercy is why we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. (Rev. Alfred McBride, O.Praem: Catholic Update – March 2008). ; (

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, explains how the Risen Lord continued to show His Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of the apostles in the early Church.  The Faith of the apostles enabled them to minister to the people, giving them the Lord’s healing love in “signs and wonders.” The second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation (given by Jesus to the Apostle John in exile on Patmos), was intended to comfort and bolster the Faith of persecuted Christians for all time. Today’s selection assures us of the presence of the merciful Lord in our lives and encourages all of us to fight fear with Faith, and trepidation about the future with trust and Hope. Today’s Gospel recalls Jesus’ institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a Sacrament of Divine Mercy.  The Risen Lord gave his apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins with the words, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:19-23).  Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God,” the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed his mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.  

Life messages: 1) We need to accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy in our Christian lives: One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive and give thanks for Divine Mercy. But it is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment. 

2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and that leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each our loving service.  The Fathers of the Church prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle:  a) First, we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible.  b) Next, we must strengthen our Faith through our personal and community prayer.  c) Third, we must share in the Divine Life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and receiving the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve.  Only then we put our love of God into action.”

Easter Sunday by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9 or Lk 24:1-12

Significance of Easter:

“Easter” literally means “the feast of fresh flowers.”  Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church for four reasons:

1) The Resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian Faith.  It is the greatest of the miracles, for it proves that Jesus is God.  That is why St. Paul writes:If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your Faith is in vain” (I Cor 15:14). “Jesus is Lord, He is risen” (Rom 10:9), was the central theme of the kerygma (or “preaching”), of the Apostles

2)  Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection.  Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live even though he dies… (Jn 11:25-26).

3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows and tears.  It reminds us that life is worth living. It also gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.  

4) Easter gives meaning to our prayers: It supports our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in and around us, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven, hearing our prayers, and so gives meaning to our personal as well as our communal prayers.

Reasons why we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

(1) Jesus himself testified to his Resurrection from the dead, giving it as a sign of his divinity. (Mark 8:31; Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:22).Tear down this temple and in three days I will build it again” (Jn 2: 19).  

(2) The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:3). Although the guards claimed (Matthew 28:13), that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body, every sensible Jew knew that it was impossible for the terrified disciples of Jesus to steal the body of Jesus from a tomb guarded by an armed, 16-member Roman Guard detachment.

(3) The initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in Jesus’ Resurrection, in spite of His repeated apparitions, serves as a strong proof of his Resurrection. Their initial disbelief explains why the Apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

(4The transformation of Jesus’ disciples: Jesus’ Resurrection and the anointing of the Holy Spirit transformed men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19), into men who now were confident and bold witnesses to the Resurrection (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:2) powerfully preaching the Risen Lord.

(5) Neither the Jews nor the Romans could disprove Jesus’ Resurrection by presenting the dead body of Jesus.

(6) The Apostles and early Christians would not have fearlessly preached Christ as Savior and faced martyrdom if they were not absolutely sure of Jesus’ Resurrection.

(7) The Apostle Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a zealous preacher of Jesus supports the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection (Galatians 1:11-17, Acts 9:1Acts 9:24-25,  Acts 26:15-18).

(8)The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian Church, bravely facing and surviving three centuries of persecution, supports the truth of the Resurrection claim.

(9) The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers. The Apostles and the early Christians were absolutely sure about the Resurrection of Jesus.

Life Messages:

1) Let us live the lives of Resurrection people: We are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits, dangerous addictions, despair, discouragement or doubts.   Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the living presence of the Risen Lord Who loves us in all the events of our lives and amid the boredom, suffering, pain and tensions of our day-to-day life. 

2) The conviction of the real presence of the Risen Lord with us and within us and all around us, enables us to lead disciplined Christian lives.It will help us to control our thoughts, desires, words, behavior and actions.

 3) This salutary awareness of the presence of the Risen Lord within us inspires us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits and addictions. Our conviction that the loving presence of the Risen Lord dwells in our neighbors and in all those we encounter, should encourage us to respect them and to render them loving, humble and selfless service.

4) We need to become transparent Christians, radiating the Risen Lord around us in the form of selfless and sacrificial agape love, mercy, compassion and a spirit of humble service. each time we try to practice Christian charity, mercy and forgiveness and each time we fight against temptations, we share in the Resurrection of Jesus. (L/22)

Seven Words from the Cross by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

Good Friday (April 15, 2022)

1. The word of Forgiveness: Then said Jesus, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’” (Lk 23:34).

While the crucified convicts would shriek and curse and spit at the spectators, Jesus, innocent of any crime against God or humanity, betrayed, arrested, scourged, and condemned, did not. Now, from the cross, Jesus’ thoughts reached above his pain and rejection. Instead of being consumed by his own pain and misery, Jesus asked forgiveness for those responsible for the evil done to him – and by extension, for all who ignorantly go the way of sin and death.

Jesus prayed for those who condemned him, mocked him, and nailed him to the Cross – and for those who from all the nations and down through the years would crucify him by their sins. Jesus is practicing what He preached – unconditional, forgiving love. 

One day Jesus preached on the mountain, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that spitefully use you and persecute you” (Mt 5:44). 

Life lesson -St. Paul to the Romans “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing, you will keep burning coals upon his head. Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good” (12:20-21).

  • The word of Assurance: Then [the criminal who had scolded his fellow criminal for mocking Jesus] said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ (Lk 23:42-43). 

The waxy heart of the good thief on the right (traditionally called Dismas), literally melted with repentance at the sight of Jesus crucified, prompting him to address Jesus humbly and devoutly, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus said, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.”

He did not have to confess all his sins to Jesus – Jesus forgave and forgot them all… and at once!  But the hard-hearted, unrepentant sinner on the left remained that way in spite of Jesus’ presence and exemplary, heroic death right before his eyes.  

Life lesson: We are here to remember how Jesus died on the cross to save each human soul, paying his life as ransom.  Will we follow the example of the repentant thief who, seeing the death of Jesus, was converted – or will we go out of the Church today unmoved, our hearts hardened, returning to the world of our sins and infidelity like the unrepentant sinner who died in his sins in the presence of the Lord of mercy and forgiveness?

  • The word of Comfort:  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’  Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother

(Jn 19:26-27). Jesus’ disciples had deserted him; his friends had forsaken him; his nation had rejected him; and his enemies cried out for his blood. But his faithful mother stood there sorrowing at the foot of the Cross. Who can grasp the grief of Mary watching her son suffer – the grief of a mother watching her son die as a criminal on a cross?  And who can grasp the grief of the son – the son who must see his mother’s heart pierced by a sword as prophesied by Simeon, when Jesus as a baby was presented in the Temple? 

Jesus announces from the cross that he is going to give us the most valuable and the last gift: “Here is your mother.” Here is the one I love, for you to love, and for her to love you – the one who taught me, the one who fed me, the one who wiped away my tears, the one who hugged me, the one who will be with you and pray for you.

Gn. 3:15, the one who  will crush the head of the serpent, Satan, with the Blood of Christ which Jesus poured out for us to the last drop. He had nothing else left but his Mother, and he gave her to us, too. His own Mother was to be our spiritual Mother in his Church, his Mystical Body, of which he is the head, and the Christians the members

Life lesson: This is Jesus’ loving death-bed gift to each of us who believe in him: Jesus’ own mother as our mother, — the mother of Christians, mother of the Church — to honor, love, and respect and imitate.  She is the supreme model of trusting Faith in God, the model of perfect obedience to the will of God, and the model of perfect surrender of one’s life to God. “Behold, your mother!”

  • The word of Desolation: From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And at about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”  (Mt  27:45-46). 

All during his ministry Jesus had known what it meant to be forsaken.  Early, the members of his own family forsook him.  Nazareth, his hometown, had forsaken him.  The nation he came to save rejected him.  But in every such instance he could always steal away to the tender healing fellowship of his Heavenly Father and find his purpose and strength in His presence.  But now, even God seems to have turned away from him, permitting him to experience the ultimate intensity of rejection and loneliness in human life. Hence, Jesus quoted the first portion of Psalm 22:1, a prophecy of the Messiah’s suffering and exaltation.

Life lesson: Every one of us experiences despair and rejection at certain periods of our life. When our dear ones die or fall terminally ill, when the only support of the family is accidentally removed, when the spouses are divorced, when the country faces serious threats to its safety, we ask the question, “Where is God?” Shortly before he died, Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet), the French atheist and writer, is reported to have said the following words to his physician, “I am abandoned by God and man! I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six more months of life.”

5. The word of Suffering:After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst’” (Jn 19:28).  “Zhena” – “I thirst,” the fifth word of Jesus from the cross, is the shortest of the seven, reminding us of Psalm 22:15: “My throat is as dry as dust, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.”

While Jesus was dying on the Cross, he had developed an agonizing thirst.  Death by Crucifixion is one of the most painful modes of torture ever devised by man. 

The draining away of blood from the body brings on intensive thirst. The physical agony of thirst is terrible beyond the power of words to describe. The whole body cries out for water – water to moisten a parched mouth, water to free a swollen tongue, water to open a rasping throat that cannot gasp enough air, water to keep life alive just a few moments longer. 

The psalmist prayed (Psalm 63:2): “O God, you are my God — for you I long!  For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.”

Jesus expressed this thirst for souls in his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, offering her the water of everlasting life. Jesus thirsts for souls. He is dying to save our souls from sin and from Satan, souls who will live performing the glorious duty of doing the will of God, souls who will burn with the fire of the love of God, souls who will love their neighbor, because whatever they do to their neighbor, they are doing it to Christ (Mt 25:31-46).

Life lesson: Jesus’ thirst was more for souls who really thirst for God.  All Christians are to be missionaries who satiate this thirst of Christ by preaching him, mainly through their exemplary and transparent Christian lives, and drawing others to love and believe in Him. When Jesus says, “I thirst,” he is not only identifying with the needs of humanity, but also experiencing them. When we thirst, Christ thirsts. When the poor thirst for clean water to drink, Christ thirsts. When children thirst for parents who will love them and not abuse them, Christ thirsts. When those who are marginalized by society because of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political views thirst for belonging, Christ thirsts.

  • The word of Triumph: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’” (Jn 19:30).

Now that His mission was accomplished, He declared definitively, “It is finished!” meaning that the work of salvation entrusted to him as the Messiah of God   is now “accomplished, fulfilled, achieved.” Jesus lived only half the normal span of human life in his century. 

During that time, he was criticized and despised and rejected.  He was captured in the Garden of Gethsemane, led to the Judgment Hall, and condemned to die.  Now his suffering has ended. The ordeal is  finished, and nothing remains but the blessed peace of the absence of all sensation.

Furthermore, all that was prophesied and prefigured in the Old Testament concerning His death has been fulfilled.  And finally, the work of redemption planned by God the Father from all eternity has been completed.  But Jesus’ declaration is more than just welcoming the ending of pain, and it is more than joy at the deliverance death brings. 

He does not merely say, “It is over;” he says, “It is accomplished, fulfilled, achieved.” 

In other words, “paid in full.” These people don’t owe anything anymore. So, when Jesus said, “It is finished,” what is finished? It is the debt we owe God by our sins. It has been paid in full! This is a declaration of victory. 

Life lesson: Can I die saying joyfully and gratefully the sixth and seventh words of Christ in all sincerity?  It is possible if I live my Christian life doing the will of God in all sincerity and commitment. If a Christian is in the kitchen doing the will of God, said, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), her actions are as important to God as when the Pope is preaching to millions.

  • The word of Committal: “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this, he breathed his last”(Lk 23:46). 

Jesus was always submitting himself to God, and when he died, he died just as he had lived.  Jesus entrusted his spirit — his life — and all that had given it meaning  to God his Father in Faith.  Even at the point of his own abandonment, when the good seemed so very far away, he proclaimed his Faith in God which the darkness could not overcome: “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.

Life lesson: We, too, are told “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act” (Ps 37:5). Let us live in such a way as to hear the welcome words of God our Father, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  The Christian should be able (like Stephen in Acts 7), to cry with his last breath, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” When we see someone hurting, how often have we listened,  and invited the sufferer to prayer? How often have we failed to invite someone to Mass, a prayer service, or Bible study, because of the possibility of rejection? Just as Christ taught us to pray, he also offered this small prayer for strength, “Into your hands, Father, I commend my Spirit.” 

Concluding anecdotes  “HE DIED FOR ME.”  It was February 1941, Auschwitz, Poland. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest put in the infamous death camp for helping Jews escape Nazi terrorism. Months went by and in desperation, one of his fellow prisoners escaped from the camp.  The camp rule was enforced. Ten people would be rounded up randomly and herded into a cell where they would die of starvation and a final exposure to lethal gas, as a lesson against future escape attempts. Names were called. A Polish Jew, Frandishek Gasovnachek, was called. He cried, “Please spare me, I have a wife and children!” Kolbe stepped forward and said, “I will take his place.” Kolbe was marched into the starvation cell with nine others where he managed to live until August 14, 1941. This story was chronicled on NBC news special several years ago. Gasovnachek, by this time 82, was shown telling this story while tears streamed down his cheeks. A mobile camera followed him around his little white house to a marble monument carefully tended with flowers. The inscription read: IN MEMORY OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, HE DIED IN MY PLACE. Every day Gasovnachek lived since 1941, he lived with the knowledge, “I live because someone died for me.” Every year on August 14 he travels to Auschwitz in memory of Kolbe.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

The Lord’s Supper by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

 (Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15)

Introduction: We celebrate three anniversaries on Holy Thursday: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass; 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy Mass, to convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners, and to preach the Good News of salvation; 3) the anniversary of Jesus’ promulgation of his new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). First, we remember how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover.  The Jewish Passover was, in fact, a joint celebration of two ancient thanksgiving celebrations.  The descendants of Abel, who were shepherds, used to lead their sheep from the winter pastures to the summer pastures after the sacrificial offering of a lamb to God.  They called this celebration the “Pass over.”   The descendants of Cain, who were farmers, held a harvest festival called the Massoth in which they offered unleavened bread to God as an act of thanksgiving.  The Passover feast of the Israelites (Ex 12:26-37) harmoniously combined these two feasts, in a ritual meal instituted by God, to be celebrated yearly, thanking Him for His miraculous liberation of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery, their exodus from Egypt, and their final arrival in the Promised Land. (A homily starter anecdote may be given)

Scripture :  In the first reading, God gives the Hebrews two instructions: prepare for the moment of liberation by a ritual meal and make a symbolic mark on your homes to exempt yourselves from the coming slaughter. In the second reading, Paul teaches that the celebration of the Lord’s Supper was an unbroken tradition from the very beginning of the Church, by which Christians reminded themselves of the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the Eucharistic celebration. After washing the feet of his apostles and commanding them to do humble service for each other, Jesus concluded the Seder meal with its roasted Paschal lamb by giving his apostles his own body and blood under the appearances of bread and wine as spiritual food and drink.

Life Messages: 1) A challenge for humble service.  Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another, and revere Christ’s presence in other persons. In practical terms, that means we are to consider others’ needs to be as important as our own and to serve their needs, without expecting any reward.

2) A loving invitation for sacrificial sharing and self-giving love.  Let us imitate the self-giving model of Jesus who shares with us his own Body and Blood and who enriches us with his Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.  It is by sharing our blessings – our talents, time, health, and wealth – with others, that we become true disciples of Christ and obey his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

 3) An invitation to become Christ-bearers and Christ-conveyers: “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” really means, “Go in peace to love and serve one another.’’ We are to carry Jesus to our homes and places of work, conveying to others around us the love, mercy, forgiveness, and spirit of humble service of Christ whom we carry with us.

Palm Sunday by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; (Lk 19:28-40; Procession); Lk 22 14—23:56 (or  23:1-49) (Holy Mass)

Introduction: The Church celebrates this sixth Sunday of Lent as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. This is the time of year we stop to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. What we commemorate and relive during this week is not just Jesus’ dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in Jesus, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption.  Attentive participation in the Holy Week liturgy will deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith,  and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. Today’s liturgy combines contrasting moments, one of glory, the other of suffering:  the royal welcome of Jesus in Jerusalem, and the drama of the trial, culminating in the crucifixion, death, and burial of the Christ.

Scripture: Today’s first reading, the third of Isaiah’s four Servant Songs, like the other three, foreshadows Jesus’ own life and mission. The Refrain for  today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 22),”My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” plunges us into the heart of Christ’s Passion. The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of who Jesus is, and of how his mission saves us from sin and death. The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception Jesus received from his admirers, who paraded with him for a distance of the two miles between the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem.  In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to/participate in a reading of the Passion of Christ according to Luke.  We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the Passion story – like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience as he condemned Jesus to death on the cross, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.

Life messages: We need to answer 5 questions today:

1) Does Jesus weep over my sinful soul as he wept over Jerusalem at the beginning of his Palm Sunday procession?

2) Am I a barren fig tree?  God expects me to produce fruits of holiness, purity, justice, humility, obedience, charity, and forgiveness.  Do I? Or worse, do I continue to produce bitter fruits of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, jealousy and selfishness?

3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with his whip?  Jesus cannot tolerate the desecration of the temple of the Holy Spirit (which I have become), by my addiction to uncharitable, unjust, impure thoughts, words, and deeds; nor does Jesus  praise my business mentality or calculation of loss and gain in my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father.

4) Do I welcome Jesus into my heart?  Am I ready to surrender my life to him during this Holy Week and welcome him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Savior? Let us remember that we are all sinners who have crucified Jesus by our sins, but we are still  able to turn to Jesus again to ask for pardon and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is through the Passion of Jesus that we receive forgiveness: “with His stripes  we are healed.” (Is 53:5).

 5) Are we like the humble donkey that carried Jesus, bringing Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness, and sacrificial service to our families, places of work, and communities by the way we live our lives?

Significance of the Holy Week:

1)A week of remembrance and appreciation

2) A week of thanksgiving

3) A week of repentance and reconciliation

4) A week to keep Christ’s New Commandment of Agape love

5) A week to deepen our Faith and strengthen our relationship with God.

Significance of Palm Sunday: 1) A day to remember two contrasting moments of Christ’s triumph and tragedy.

Anecdote: American president Abraham Lincoln had his moment of triumph and tragedy 156 years ago in 1865. Palm Sunday in 1865 marked the end of the Civil war. The General of the Confederate Army surrendered to the General of the Union Army. It was the greatest moment of triumph for the American president Abraham Lincoln. But he was assassinated five days later, on  Good Friday, the greatest tragedy for the president and the nation.

Today’s Scripture readings: In the first reading, Jesus Christ is presented as the “suffering Servant” of Isaiah’s prophecy.

In the second reading from the Philippians, Jesus’ saving mission is highlighted.

In the first part of today’s Gospel reading, we have the details of Jesus’ triumphant reception to the city of Jerusalem given. We are told that Jesus’ followers welcomed him, riding on a donkey, as king and savior. We also told how Jesus wept over Jerusalem, cleansed the Temple of Jerusalem and cursed a barren fig tree.

But in the second part, the reding of the  Passion from the Gospel of Luke, we reflect on Jesus’ unjust trial and humiliating, cruel torture and crucifixion.

Life messages: Questions we should ask:

  1. Does Jesus weep over the sinful situation of our souls?

2)  Am I a barren fig tree?

3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with his whip? 

4)  Do I welcome Jesus into my heart as our personal Savior and God?

5) Are we ready to carry Jesus like donkey on Palm Sunday to our homes and workplaces, conveying his love, mercy, compassion and spirit of forgiveness to others?

Fourth Sunday of Lent by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

Jos 5:9, 10-12; II Cor 5:17-21; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

Scripture: In the first reading, the Chosen People of God are portrayed as celebrating, for the first time in their own land, the feast of their freedom, by using wheat that had grown in the Promised Land. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 34), a rejoicing Psalmist invites us, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us together extol His Name!” In the second reading, St. Paul invites the Corinthian Christian community to rejoice because Jesus has reconciled them with God by his suffering and death.

 Today’s Gospel celebrates the joy of the prodigal son on his “homecoming” where he discovers his father’s forgiving and overflowing love.  It is also the story of the rejoicing of a loving and forgiving father who celebrates the return of his prodigal son by throwing a big party in his honor, a banquet celebrating the reconciliation of the son with his father, his family, his community, and his God.  At the same time, by presenting a self-righteous elder brother, the parable invites us to avoid self-righteousness and self-justification by imitating the repentant younger brother. Let us admit the truth that we are an assembly of sinful people, repentant, and now we are ready to receive God’s forgiveness and to experience Jesus’ Personal Presence in the Holy Eucharist as our loving and forgiving God.

Life messages:

1) Let us return to our Heavenly Father with repentant hearts: As prodigal children, we face spiritual famine all around us in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, fraud and theft in the workplace, murders, abortions and violence, premarital sex, marital infidelity and priestly infidelity, as well as in hostility between and among people. All of these evils have proliferated because we have been squandering God’s abundant blessings, not only in our country and in our families, but also in our personal lives. Hence, let us repent and return to our Heavenly Father’s home.

2) Holy Mass enhances our “pass over,” from a world of sin to a world of reconciliation. At every Mass, we come to our loving Heavenly Father’s house as prodigal children acknowledging that we have sinned (“I confess to Almighty God”).  In the Offertory, we give ourselves back to the Father, and this is the moment of our surrendering our sinful lives to God our Father.  At the consecration, we hear God’s invitation through Jesus: “… this is My Body, which will be given up for you… this is the chalice of My Blood … which will be poured out for you…” (= ”All I have is yours”).  In Holy Communion, we participate in the banquet of reconciliation, thus restoring our full relationship with God and our fellow human beings.

Third Sunday of Lent by Fr. Peter Chinnappan

Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15; I Cor 10:1-6, 10-12; Lk 13:1-9

Central theme All three of today’s readings speak of God’s mercy and compassion in disciplining His children by occasional punishment while giving them another chance despite their repeated sins.  Although God’s love for us is constant and consistent, He will not save us without our co-operation.  That is why He invites us during Lent to repent of our sins and to renew our lives by producing fruits of love, compassion, forgiveness, and faithful service.

Scripture: The first reading tells us how God shows His mercy to His chosen people by giving them  Moses as their leader and liberator. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v 6) reveals Himself to Moses from the burning bush and assures Moses of His Divine presence with His people and of His awareness of their sufferings in Egypt.  He declares His intention to use Moses as the leader who will rescue His enslaved people.  Then God reveals His name as Yahweh (“I AM Who AM”) and renews His promise to the patriarchs (v 8), to give them a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Our Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 103) reminds us of God’s unfailing mercy: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.”  The second reading warns us that our merciful God is also a disciplining God. Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth that they must learn from the sad experience of the Israelites who were punished for their sins by a merciful but just God.  The merciful and gracious God is also just and demanding; hence, they must be free from sexual sins and idolatry. Today’s Gospel explains how God disciplines His people and invites them to repent of their sins, to renew their lives, and to produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Citing two tragic events, Jesus exhorts the Jews to repent and reform their lives. With the parable of the barren fig tree, Jesus also warns them that the merciful God will not put up with them indefinitely. Although God patiently waits for sinners to repent, giving them grace to do so, He will not wait forever.Time may run out; therefore, timely repentance is necessary.  Hence, one can say, “A Lent missed is a year lost from the spiritual life.”

Life Messages: 1) We need to live lives of repentance, because (a) we never know when we will meet a tragedy of our own.  Let us turn to Christ, acknowledge our faults and failings, and receive from him mercy, forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life.  There is no better way to take these words of Jesus to heart than to go to sacramental confession, and there is no better time to go to confession than during Lent.  (b) repentance helps us in life and in death. It helps us to live as forgiven people and helps us to face death without fear.

2) We need to be fruitful trees in God’s orchard.  Lent is an ideal time “to dig around and manure” the tree of our life so that it may bring forth fruits of repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and sensitivity to the feelings of others. 

3) We need to make the best use of the “second chances” God gives us.  Our merciful Father always gives us second chances.  During Lent, too, we are given another chance to repent and return to our Heavenly Father’s love.