Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'The Middle C'

As my daughter has started learning her Piano lessons I too am getting interested (though my past history in music lessons has been disastrous).

I just noticed that they call the middle key of the keyboard as the Middle C (the musical note C) and the Holy spirit tells me it must be right. MPj03853850000[1] The 'C' appears to me as  Christ, the Christ who is the Centre of the Universe. No wonder He is at the Centre of the Musical notes too. Isn't it beautiful that the same C stands among the centuries dividing them into AD and BC? St Paul asks us vehemently to keep Christ at the Centre of our lives throughout the epistles.

That makes me think what is at the Centre of the keyboard of my life. Is it the Middle C ? (or is it a 'D' ? D has always warned  me of the Dangerous Distractions the Devil can bring us into our lives Deviating us gradually into Death.) Its not enough for  the Middle C to be anywhere in the Keyboard; it has to be in the Middle. From the centre the C would make melodies( if not tragedies?) for sure.

Phil 1:21 For to me  life means Christ!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Wind and the Heat Package Part 3

Let me first of all apologize for repeating the some themes but this time let me put the blame on Fr Raniero Cantalamessa's first advent sermon  for provoking this post. http://www.zenit.org/article-24473?l=english

IMG_0058

Fr Cantalamessa, the papal preacher in his sermon to the Pope and the Ruman curia makes a passing reference : "St.Paul does not want to be for us only a winter sun that illuminates but does not warm. The obvious intention of his letters is to lead readers not only to the knowledge of but also to love and passion for Christ." 

Isn't it  true? As we grow in the knowledge of Christ, the Church and  become experts in our common spiritual language do we tend to miss this love and passion?  Like the winter sun who fools us by the bright light( but as you step outside you would be freezing) we too are at risk of being fooled by our knowledge of Christ.

This Advent lets welcome Christ with the warmth, the love and passion from our hearts and not just with the light of our intellects.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Wind and the Heat Package Part 2

Sometime back I had posted an analogy of heat and wind representing  the troubles  and the consolation of the holy spirit in our lives. http://jydiscovery.blogspot.com/2008/09/wind-heat-package.html .But that was summer then and now winter adds some more thoughts to it.

I have been thinking(&experiencing) after the post: Isn't it possible that I may not always receive the cooling and comforting wind in my heated situations of life? If so Why? I have felt many times its not in my hands to open the windows to let the spirit in eventhough i would like to.

IMG_0002 As the winter is getting tough now I find that its not possible to open the windows because of the freezing cold wind .Infact the closed windows with the sunlight shining inside and the cool breeze staying outside helps the indoors to be warmer.

Isn't it the reason why many times God withholds the consolation of the Holy spirit from us temporarily? To warm up our indoors? -the indoors of our hearts which have become cold and tepid with the comforts of the world.

So in moments where it seems that the master of the house has closed the windows of the cool breeze  isn't it possible that He has closed it with a purpose? - a reminder for me to warm up -warm up  to my first love. (Rev Ch 1)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Do it anyway


I've always had this "thing" of asking myself "Why am I doing this? " "will somebody even care?"
"Will this succeed ?".

As a result, many of my ideas and initiatives never come into being.

Of recent, one insight I've recurringly had is that I need to do the right thing. No matter what.
Even if no one is looking, even if no one appreciates, even if I need to pay a price for it.

This quote attributed to Mother Theresa hit this nail on my head again. Click on the image above to read the quote.

Just do it !!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The parable of the lost sheep - What it did for me


I was reading Fr.Bobby Jose kattikatt's book "Sancharikalude Daivam" a Malayalam publication, the name meaning "The God of the Travelers", a beautiful book that really touched me. In the book he talks about the parable of the lost sheep in a wonderful way. He identifies himself with the lost sheep. That started me also off. I read the parable of the lost sheep from both Mathew and Luke and it started off a beautiful train of thoughts. It really applied to my present condition of being down and stressed out and trying to come out of it, not really been able to feel the love of the lord in a tangible way. I loved Mathews rendition of it more.

I really felt the love of my Lord, the Lord who left the 99 and came in search of me the lost one. I was really the lost sheep in the thorns, lost painfully injured, desperately looking for my Lords help. I felt him taking me up gently, untangling me from the thorns, his loving touch on my wounds. Have you ever felt the safety of the loving arms of the savior after the long drawn loneliness, struggle and exhaustion ? Its a wonderful experience. It felt really wonderful to snuggle up to the warmth of his love. It was overwhelming. As I snuggled up to his heart I could hear the gentle beating of his heart. A heart beating out its rhythm of love for me.

He lifted me on to his shoulders,he was so careful and loving I cannot describe. On his shoulder I laid my weary head. I could rest after a long time, weariness overtook me. I was safe in my Shepherds love, all the pains and wounds forgotten. His loving caresses soothing away the pains. His healing hands on my deep wounds, oh how wonderful it felt. I knew when i woke up tomorrow, the pain would come back. It would hurt me for some time, even to walk, but I still would be back in my beloved shepherd's pen. I could look forward to his loving presence. I could look forward to his loving caresses. It was enough for me. Any pain I can endure, any wound would heal with his tender care.

Even though there were 99 of his beloved sheep there, just imagine, he left all the 99 and came for me, the one who ran away, and he found me, that is enough for me. I snuggled up more to his warmth, more to his love. Let me rest, and enjoy the warmth of his love.

From Fr. Tom : We are God’s work of art, Reflections on Eph 2.10

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2.10 NIV)

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (ETV).

For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.(NAB)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (RSV)

The best translation that I like goes like this: We are God’s work of art….

This is more expressive of the marvel that we all are (cf Ps 139). As I read this verse in preparation for this day’s (Monday of 29th Ord. week) Eucharist, it struck me right in my face! I am God’s work of art!!!!! Wow!!! Fantastic! Most of the time I, and like me many of us, am looking at the tapestry that God is weaving of me from the underside, the earthly side, the limited vision of my human fragility. Besides, the work is not over! God is at work on me and it will take my whole life time to complete the masterpiece that he is weaving or like an embroidery that is stretched out on its stand. We, like immature children, full of irrepressible curiosity creep in when the master artist is away from his studio to peep at the work! We get to see only the reverse. We are too much in a hurry to see who we are but we get to see only the underside with all its loose ends. But persons like Paul make us see the face of the embroidery and are more than convinced that they are still in the process of being made and are more than convinced that a masterpiece is in the making. Those million needle pricks are only signs that we are in the making. There will come a time when Jesus, the Master Artist, is through with his work and will present it to His Father as his gift to Him!

This made me realize what a marvelous self-image that Paul had of himself. We are not junk! God made us like Himself (Gen 1.26: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,….). When we put ourselves down, put others down for any reason whatever, we are giving great displeasure to our Maker, the Master Artist! We do not appreciate his work of art! It shows us in a very poor light. It would only show how poor we are as artists! This is why we must refrain from judging others, we must be non-judgmental (cf Mt 7.1-5). They like us are in the making. The whole of Scripture is inviting us to this view of God about us. This may give us idea why God never gives up on anyone of us.

I do not know if you have seen any really fine mosaic art. I have seen some of the best in St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican, Rome. It is made of thousands of small pieces of different coloured marble all pieced together to form a masterpiece of art. In many ways the person must be a consummate artist, even more accomplished than the one who works with paints and brushes on canvas or one who chisels out a statue from a block of marble. This is where the genius comes into play: to choose the perfect piece to fit that exact spot in the picture. We are all mosaics, made of broken pieces of our lives. God never gives up on us. He is at work in us all the time. St. Augustine, who had messed up his early life and was saved by the tears of his saintly mother Monica, could appreciate what God did for him. God, the perfect artist, took hold of his broken life and made a masterpiece of him as we all know. The same can be said of Paul, Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan woman at the well. It also happens to all or most of us. You and I are works of art of the greatest Artist of all time – God.

In the art world, huge sums of money are involved when the work of a master are auctioned. The greater the artist, the more money the masterpiece will fetch. It is no wonder that God’s Son, Jesus, paid with his most precious blood for purchasing our most valuable souls from the tyranny of Satan. Satan, wicked as he is, knows fully well the preciousness of our souls. That is why he will move every force on earth and hell to get the control of even one soul. Now we can understand and appreciate why the Lord appears countless times to chosen souls to convince us and offer us every divine means to save our souls. This is why the great Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, risked his name and fame, even his very life, to convince us to save our souls from eternal damnation. This made St. Francis de Sales, that intrepid missionary of the Chablais, exclaim with ardent zeal for souls: Give me souls, take away the rest. Don Bosco, hunter of souls, repeated the slogan with his life and works.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reading the Bible Unconventionally

All of us read Bible differently I guess. Some would prefer to read cover to cover, by books of the bible, random readings or following the daily readings of the liturgy and so on. Haven't you got lost in the historical details that you come across in your daily readings?..not able to connect between the books..loosing the thread of connection.

I was introduced by a nun to a Bible study program by Jeff Cavins, an EWTN host and a lay catholic evangelist in America who returned to the Catholic Church after being a Protestant Pastor.The Program called the Great Adventure (http://www.greatadventureonline.com/) focuses on 'getting the big picture' of the Bible. Bible's 73 books are grouped by literary style rather than chronologically. Jeff introduces the 14 chronological books which gives the historical picture of the whole bible from Genesis to the Church.By contiguously reading thru these 14 books one will have read thru the entire bible historically with a sense of continuity.The remaining 59 books can be read in the context of these chronological books. For eg: Psalms should be read in the context of 2 samuel and Malachi with Nehemiah.He suggests that after one has read thru these 14 books once then one should go back  and read the non-chronological books in the historical context.

Many times people end up frustrated trying to read thru the whole Bible losing interest in between. In most cases this is because they are trying to make their way thru one of the non-chronological books like Leviticus.Jeff has made a plan that guides the reader thru these 14 books in about 3months by reading 4 chapters a day.

I have tried to put a link to my study notes if anyone is interested. Reading  the 14 books(Gen,exod, num,josh,judg,1&2 sam,1&2 kings, Ezra, Neh, 1Mac, Luke &Acts) 4 chapters a day could be  a foundation course in biblical history for us in this Year of the Word! Hurry up, just two and a half months left!

https://cid-8a3f964e623b8a71.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Documents/Spiritual/Bible%20Time%20Band%20Jeff%20Cavins.pdf

Monday, September 29, 2008

For Tommy : The March of the Emperor Penguins

A few days ago I was viewing this documentary “The March of the Emperor Penguins” captured by the cameras of Geographic magazine.
Every year the penguins make a journey of 70 miles from the ocean to the interior of the Antarctic continent for breeding. They walk step by step in file – the leader, the oldest of the group, at the head of the queue. As they approach the rendezvous point, other groups of penguins come together. At times, the leader seems hesitant about the Direction to take; however, another from the group promptly takes over and the shuffle towards their destination continues. When someone gets weary and tired, he/she drops onto its stomach and glides along until it is able to walk again.
Finally, when the destination is reached, the
males and females choose each other. The period of breeding is not very long; the harsh Antarctic cold and blizzards will soon be approaching. After the egg is produced, the female very gently places her egg above the feet of her partner. If unfortunately the egg rolls off the feet of the male, the freezing cold of the Antarctic gets the upper hand and the young one is lost. After the delicate transfer of the egg from female to male is finished, all the females walk all the 70 miles back to the ocean to gather food for their young ones who are kept warm by the males above their two little feet. The males shuffle around among the throng of penguins; the warmest area of the group is towards the centre; so, ever so often the concentric circles move in and out in an organised manner; at the same time the male must make sure that the egg does not touch the cold Antarctic floor. This living process continues for 3 months. In the meantime, the female penguins speed towards the waters of the open ocean to harvest food for their young ones; some of the mothers perish or become preys to predators; the young chicks of these unfortunate mothers will perish.
After a successful foraging of food, the mother penguins make the long trek back to the Antarctic nursery where the little ones have already hatched and are very hungry. On reaching the nursery the mothers seek out their partners and their babies (some mothers find their partners but not their babies); the hungry babies eagerly relish the food their mothers have brought for them.
The male penguin has conscientiously cared for his offspring and now leaves the mother to cater for the needs of the baby chick. He must now march the long 70 miles to nourish himself remembering that he has not eaten for a long time.
The penguin chicks in the meantime get nourished by their mothers and grow rapidly; of course, they are not out of danger; predators like the albatross appear and take away some of the young ones. Finally, after the young ones are fully matured, the female penguins depart leaving the adults to themselves. The harsh Antarctic winter is at an end. The ocean is once more accessible; it is not too far for the females and the young adults to being their lives in the blue waters of the ocean and to nourish themselves.
Indeed, God looks after the penguins, the living creatures, the birds and plants and flowers – THE WONDERFUL CIRCLE OF LIFE. WE, humans, can earn from the Emperor penguins, many valuable and salutary lessons. We, Catholics, too must resort to this natural process – CONCENTRIC CIRCLES TEMPLATE; God, Jesus = the CENTRE; the pope, bishops, priests and the laity = the concentric circles; SHARING, LOVING, SUPPORTING, NOURISHING, SERVING EACH OF OTHER; THE GOAL being the SURVIVAL and PERPETUATION of the
KINGDOM of God
.
Jesus has given us the way to follow. Paul and John in their writing have clearly mapped out the path we must follow to be children of the Kingdom of God.

Bible Reflection fron Fr.Tom : Psalm 56.14

I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living” Ps 56.14.

I am writing this article for my own meditation of the word of God. Writing makes my reflection more sharp and helps to imprint the word in my mind and heart. Besides I think writing. I share it with others so that if what helps me can help others too, I would feel blessed.


In the land of the living” is a Hebrew way of saying living the present moment here and now contrasted to the “land of the dead”, that is when I am finished with this life. “Walk” indicates not only the locomotion of going from here to there but living this day. When I can call to mind what Paul told the Athenians (Acts 17.28) regarding God: “In Him we live, move and have our being” is living in the awareness that God is with me and is the witness to all what I think, desire, speak, act, and feel (Ps 139.2. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar….7. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8. If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.) There is no place I can go to to hide from Him (cf. Ps 139.11. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," 12. even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.)


I can either think of his presence as that of a police man who monitors all what I do via his radar or hidden cameras or by a computer chip implanted under my skin that tracks me where I go and what I do. It is undue interference in my life which I would rather not have. It is an assault on my person hood and liberty. He is not interested in what good I do. He is watching me do anything against the law to restrain me, to punish me.
I can also think of being in God’s presence as of being in the presence of my darling Papa who loves me, who delights in me (“the Lord delights in you” Is
63.4), who dotes on me. He watches me to enjoy my being his child, to see his image in me (cf.Gen 1.27). He loves to watch me with pride seeing me make even a little progress in growing up. His presence (his name is “Immanuel, God with us” (Mt1.23, cf Is 7.14) encourages me to love him and avoid anything that would hurt even slightly his fatherly heart. I feel secure and protected in his presence knowing that with him around, nothing can harm me. “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want”(Ps 23.1). When I do something good or honest, I can see him smile and approve with pleasure what I do. This thrills my heart. I am sure that it thrills his heart too. If in my weakness I stray away from him, I know he will guide me back to his embrace (cf Lk 15.5, 9,20). I am sure that if I were to live like this every day of my life, I would indeed be in the land of the living both now and in the land of eternal living. So, I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living all the days of my life. Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

'Good Morn & Good Night' - Moses' Style!

MPj04120620000[1] " Good Morning":  (Numbers (NAB) 10) 34 And when they set out from camp, the cloud of the LORD was over them by day.35 Whenever the ark set out, Moses would say, "Arise, O LORD, that your enemies may be scattered, and those who hate you may flee before you."

A beautiful morning prayer by a man who had a deep personal relationship with God. The prayer should remind us in the  morning that our daily life is a Spiritual Warfare and that we too are on an Exodus with a destination. Lets be assured of the Cloud of Divine Presence which travel with us as the day begins.

MPj04066330000[1]"Good Night"  36 And when it came to rest, he would say, "Return, O LORD, you who ride upon the clouds, to the troops of Israel."

And that's the night prayer of Moses with a heart full of gratitude towards the dear Lord who travelled with them each moment of the day in the Cloud above their heads in the scorching heat through the desert.  Lets me thankful too as we say this prayer at the end of the day with Moses -  thankful to a Lord who is Emmanuel!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bible Reflections from Fr.Tom Luke 6:45

It is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” Lk 6. 45c

There are several other renderings of the same passage: “For a man’s words flow out of what fills the heart (NAB). “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (ETV).

Jesus was speaking in the context of giving principles of life that should guide a Christian. Just before this he spoke of the good tree giving good fruits and bad tree giving bad fruit. This sentence we are figuring out is a beautiful summary of it. It is another principle of life to guide ourselves by. You give what you have.

I recall an incident from the era of the infamous Berlin Wall that separated the Communist “heaven” of the East Berlin from the free West Berlin. Barbed wires and armed guards with fierce hounds on leash prevented those from outside to get in nor allow those inside “heaven” to get out. The life in East Berlin was horrible, many risked their lives to get out to the free world. Many died in the attempt. Guards marched up and down the artificial separation, day in and day out. As could be imagined, the soldiers often became quite bored of this task they had to do. They sought some relaxation. So the soldiers on the East Berlin side made a parcel of some very filthy things, packaged it nicely and threw it over the wire fence. Soldiers parading along the West Berlin side, more to help the escapees than to guard, picked up the parcel. When they opened it they were deeply disgusted. They wanted to play the game, so they went to market and bought lovely chocolates, toffees, and goodies that were hard to come by in “heaven” and made a parcel of it and threw it across with a note attached: “ Everyone gives what he has most”!

We cannot give what we have not. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If your heart is full of venom, hatred, violence, rape, murder, and abuse, it will surely pour out when they can act out these ideas with impunity. Godara and Orissa are fresh examples of this. If your heart is full of love, forgiveness, peace, joy and brotherliness, it is sure to pour out when there is need for it. Jesus was full of forgiveness and love, so in his final moments of extreme agony on the cross when one would have expected him to get engrossed in his own agony, but he cried out those immortal words: “ Father, forgive them for they know now what they do” (Lk 23.34, cf.23.43). Jesus’ heart was full of this forgiveness, so no wonder that is what poured out of him in his final hours of suffering. That was how Stephen died, with forgiveness on his lips for his murderers (Acts 7.60).

This is why St. Paul writing to his Christians of Philippi urged them: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4.8-9).

Paul earlier in the same letter to his dear Philippians asked them to have the mind of Christ: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…..” Phil 2.5.

Our Christian formation must be to fill our hearts and minds with the spirit and “mind” of Christ. In a world filled with values and maxims contrary to Christ’s values, we need to heed the advice of Paul to his Christians of Philippi quoted above. While we live in the world we must not allow its values of exploitation, pleasure seeking, deceit, murder and the like to invade our hearts (cf Rom 7.7-25). Be careful of what you listen to, read, speak about and think about. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…. (Rom 12.2)..Be careful of what you watch especially in the internet. How many young people have had to shed bitter tears for having allowed themselves to indulge themselves in it “for just once!” What we watch in the quiet of our rooms and cells and internet caffes, have a tendency to get chiseled into our minds with terrible consequences. Remember how fragile we are: 2 Cor 7.7. Unconsciously the venom is sure to worm its way in your heart. It is very difficult to get ourselves detoxified of it except by the Blood of Christ. So be aware! Be warned!

Bible Reflections from Fr.Tom on Psalm 119, 130

“The unfolding of your word gives light. It teaches the simple.”

Ps 119, 130.

Unfolding of your word: the first image that comes to mind is unfolding our clothes before we can wear them. So is the word of God. The Word of God must be unfolded, opened up, unraveled, explained so that we can understand them. Often we are too lazy, too languid and too uninterested to take the trouble to reflect on the word and make it digestible. It is like the food we eat, unless it is digested, it can do us grave harm to our health. So also, the Word of God unless we take the trouble to ‘unfold’ it, it remains useless for us. Jesus explained that the seed of God’s word not understood would be stolen by the birds of the air if they fell on the foot path of life ( cf Mt 13.19).

Word of God must be received with joy and humility and treasure it in the heart and meditate on it. Mother Mary is the model of this attitude. Of her Luke says: Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them” Lk 2.19 (cf Ps 119.15: I meditate on your preceptsand consider your ways..) She remembered them and thought deeply about them. This is the process of unfolding. Thought deeply: this is meditating. Some one has aptly said: if you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. Meditating is turning over an idea in our mind over and over again – as we do when we worry – until the idea becomes clearer and clearer with time. “By simple definition, meditation is continued or extended contemplation, especially of a spiritual or devotional nature. In practical terms, meditation involves concentrating on a single thought or mental image to the exclusion of all others.”

Our modern world militates against this process: we want precooked food, instant noodles and coffee and the like. We do not want to take the trouble to weigh, think and assimilate the word we hear. To us, alas, can be applied what Jesus lamented in Mt 13. 13-16. Jesus was saying why he speaks to the crowds in parables. Parables need unfolding to understand: 13This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.] 16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.

There is another malaise: surfeit of information. We are bombarded with an avalanche of information that was never available before. We hardly digest the message we have just received when another one comes with pressing urgency. In order to do what Mother Mary did we need silence of the heart and mind to receive the word of God and profit from it. We need to become more and more choosy about what we expose ourselves to; choosy in what we want to receive and choosy in what we want to meditate upon.

The Word of God is quite unlike human word. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to listen, treasure, ponder over and put it into practice. We need the Lord to open our minds (Lk 24.45; Acts 16.14) to hear and be transformed. Then the word of God becomes light that lightens our path: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119.105).

Such wisdom is available only for the simple hearted, the humble of spirit, those who hunger and thirst for God’s word: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Mt 5.6).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Few Notes From The Sunday Bible Class of 07/09/2008


My Thoughts on Sunday Bible Study Class: When a JY brother invited me for this class I expected food there. ;-) But on attending the few sessions I realized what one gets there is ‘food for thought’ & ‘food for the soul’ which is word of God. I like the scripture in apostolic letters where we are exhorted ‘To be able to give an account of the hope we have’ – or in other words we have to be equipped to explain/defend our faith. For this we need knowledge & insights into our catholic faith. This Sunday class is working towards the same. Lets ask ourselves, can we ever be fully catholic without knowing anything about the treasure-trove that it has in the form of its teachings which cater to our spiritual needs. And lastly, the best thing about this class is – Its FREE !! ;-)

Bible class of 7/9/2008 – A Short Summary
Fr. Tom enlightened us on 2 topics this day, which touched upon,
a)Paul’s Paradigm shift & his qualities
b)The immaculate conception

A) Paul’s Paradigm shift:
As we all know well, the ‘Christ Encounter’ on the road to Damascus changed Saul forever. Until then an upholder of the Law, we see dramatic change in Paul. From a persecutor he is now a preacher. Earlier the Law alone was his reference, now Christ & Grace become his refrain. This ‘change of thinking’ which results in ‘change of person’ is what can be simply put as a ‘Paradigm shift’ or ‘Paradigm change’. Later we see renewed Paul exhorting us to ‘Put on the MIND OF CHRIST’ or ‘not to conform to the standards of the world, but to be transformed, by the RENEWING OF THE MIND”.
We see clearly how paradigm shift in Paul resulted in changes in his Attitudes ( the way we respond to people, situations) & thoughts , actions. Paul went thru what is called ‘Metanoia’ – change of attitude. The call to change is for all of us. Let us check ourselves – has the Christ experience brought about any changes in my attitudes & thinking? Like Paul can we also say “Be imitators of Christ, as I am of him”? Are we thinking with a Christ’s Mind? Do we look at people & situations through Christ’s eyes?

Trivia Time: Did you know 1 Thessalonicans is the first ever book of the Bible to be written down. Gospels were written much later. Imagine Paul writing this letter not knowing it would one day be part of the Bible. He was building on nothing. No wonder scholars look up to him as a ‘greatest mind’ next only to Christ.

B) Immaculate Conception: Many are not aware that Immaculate Conception is NOT birth of Jesus thru a virgin. This dogma of the Catholic Church asserts the immaculate conception of Mary, in her mother’s womb. Jesus being born of a virgin is refered to as ‘Virgin Birth’ & is akin to God’s act of original creation, where in thru the power of spirit, he created everything out of nothing.

Immaculate comes from the latin origins – Im(without) + Macula (stain). An assertion of this is also reflected in the annunciation where angel of the lord addresses Mary as “Favored one” – in the greek original the word used is “Kecharitomane” which translates to ‘full of grace, intensively & extensively”. So Mother Mary was without sin – even at the time of conception & afterwards too.
To understand this better, lets look at our own lives. For example I have never indulged in smoking or drinking. In fact never felt like doing it for there was not even a temptation to see its taste. This is not because of my own strength. So I will say ‘God has given me the GRACE not to be into this sin’. If god can give me GRACE to stay away from some sins, can not the same God give full GRACE to Mary to stay away from all sins’.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Mary (Saint Thomas Aquinas).

I just happened to read this article and thought it would be interesting to look into ourselves and ask Mama for what we lack.

 scan0004

1.Gift of Fear

Annunciation

2.Piety

Visitation

3.Knowledge

Presentation

4.Fortitude

Finding in the Temple

5.Counsel

Wedding at Cana

6.Understanding

"Who is my mother?"

7.Wisdom

Passion

1.In the Annunciation the Archangel frees Mary from her fright so as to bless her with the holy fear of the lord. For the Holy spirit's gift of Fear disposes us to reverence God and to be completely devoted to him. As Mary proclaims, "God's Mercy is from age to age on those who fear him". Fear of the lord is a kind of foundation on which the other gifts are built and is the beginning of wisdom(Ps 111:10). It is not a matter of 'servile' fear -the fear of one who obeys the master because of punishment - but a 'filial' fear- the fear a good son should have about ever losing his relationship with his father.

2.In the Visitation and in the Magnificat Mary manifests the Spirit's gift of Piety that prepares God's people to be promptly responsive in a special way to the divine inspirations he sends. Real Piety is a virtue that governs our behaviour at all times and not only when we are engaged in prayer, worship and other acts of religious devotion.

3.The gift of knowledge provides sure and correct judgement about the things of faith, in differentiating between what is and is not consistent with the faith. In presenting Jesus to the temple and making the offering 'in accord with the law of the lord' Mary manifests the gift of knowledge . This also blesses Mary with new knowledge from the words of Simeon and Anna.

4.The gift of Fortitude enables us to stand our ground amidst dangers. Through the event of losing Jesus in the temple Mary is being prepared for the even more gruelling experience of the cross.

5.Counsel is reasoned inquiry that leads us to deliberate action. Mary's words of counsel lead the waiters to her Son and the Gift of Counsel leads us also to Jesus.

6.In the incident where Jesus asks "Who is my mother?" Jesus enlightens the crowd of their need to reach beyond their own preset notions, conceptions and prejudices to certain deeper truths that only the Holy Spirit can reveal.

7."Near the cross of Jesus there stood his mother'(Jn:19:25 )How could Mary endure to witness the agony of her son? Wisdom empowered her to witness this passion. The wise person is one who considers the ultimate cause of things and uses it to judge other things with certainty. Despite the suffering of the passion, this gift enabled the blessed mother to see beyond the anguish to the ultimate cause and the ultimate need for her Son to die for sinners.

Source: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit According to St.Thomas Aquinas by Fr. Peter John Cameron,O.P.

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Blood that reminds....

Today looks like I  got out of the wrong side of the bed! My little one too was cranky. He  insisted on going to the balcony in the chilly wind outside. As he persisted I just put him angrily in the balcony. No sooner had I put him over there I found him standing in a mini pool of blood with a small wound on his little foot - I guess must have scratched somewhere in the balcony. My emotions are difficult to explain but its anybody's guess. The sight of the blood  made a deep impression in my mind.I was full of compassion for the poor little fellow as I kissed him a thousand times.

That reminded me of the Father God who looks at the Blood of his Son! I know He is a much better Father, beyond comparison and am sure He didn't put His Son into the world the way I put my little one into the balcony. By the way, is He too guilty of putting His Son's life at risk? But,  I guess  He would be looking at the Precious Blood the way I looked at my son's blood. He would have had an everlasting impression of this Blood in His heart too! He would say 'No, Never again! I pardon! This Blood is too valuable for Me! He would be filled with Compassion and Forgiveness. min-nailed-to-cross

Lets keep reminding the Father about the Precious Blood of His Son. Litany of the Precious Blood

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The secrets of the Heart from Fr.Tom

“God who knows the secrets of the heart?” Ps 44.22.

I am of the opinion, that if the Holy Spirit were to inspire us to understand the full import of this verse, I think our lives would dramatically change. If we were to be deeply aware and convinced that God knows every intention, desire and motive of our every action and wish, we would be mighty careful of what we do, say and desire. God will expose the motives of men’s hearts: 1 Cor 4.5: He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. Let us explore this further.

When Holy Scripture uses the word “ Heart” it means the inmost part of our make up as human beings. It is the very essence of our being, emotions and sensibilities. We might now call it our soul, our spirit. That is why when we say that we love someone with our whole heart, we mean that we love that person very dearly, very deeply from the depths of our being. That is how God wants to be loved: with our whole hearts: Deut 6.5: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

For Jesus, the heart is the source of our being and acting. “Mt.15.19.For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Again: Mt 6. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Sin begins in the heart: Mt 5. 28.But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Our hearts can be sinful and sullied by sin. Human heart can be very deceitful: Jer 17. 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? So in Ps. 51. 10 we pray with the psalmist: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. In the beatitudes, Jesus tells us that those who have clean, pure heart will see God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Mt 5.8). This is why we need to have clean hearts. Since sin sullies our hearts, we need to shun sin as a plague, as a venomous serpent.

Sinful hearts can be purified by the word of God: “You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you” Jn 15.3. This is why we need to keep the word of God in our hearts like our Blessed Mother: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Lk 2.19). So it is not enough to hear or read the word of God but we need to understand it (St Mat. 13.19: “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart”.

Jesus was deeply aware of what the Pharisees and the Scribes were thinking and the motives of their actions. So in Mt 23. 1-36. It is a sad reading. They who thought were serving God ended up doing exactly the opposite because their hearts were perverse. We had better take care lest we be indicted too.

Let us end with a prayer for a change of heart as he did for Saul: 1 Sam 10.9: As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart…” Lord change my heart too. Or better ask the Lord for a new heart and a new spirit: Ezechiel 36. 25 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Wind & The Heat Package

IMG_0147 As the day was getting hotter with the Sun shining through the closed window, cursing the heat ,I felt like opening the window.Wow, much to my relief, the cool breeze took away with it my frustrations.I guess many of us would have had this daily experience. The window when it was closed, just let the Heat in and when it was opened it also let in the Wind which made things easier.I didn't know (with the windows closed) it came as a Package -the Wind was there with the Heat!

Isn't this the way the Ruhah or Pneuma (Wind-Holy Spirit ) works in our lives? At first sight when the Heat (the troubles) comes into our lives we experience only the Heat of it but when we decide to OPEN the windows to let the Wind in it becomes a different experience! The cool breeze just takes away the Heat and lets us relax amidst all the Heat around us.

Lord help us to look out for the Wind which accompanies(or follows)the Heat of our lives!

John 3:8 The wind blows...so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

joe

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dogma - Mary,Mother of God

Sharing – Nisha Francis (Asst.Coordinator - Wednesday Prayer Group)
*********************************************************************************On Sunday, the 31st of August, a group of 11 of us gathered at the JY office for the Bible group to learn more about “Mary, our Mother”. The session was led by Mr.Paul Cheerankal, who works for GE & who led us through an extremely enlightening 180 minutes of facts about our Mamma Mary.A briefing of the session would be as follows: The Catholic Church since many, many years has been issuing ‘Dogmas’ or teachings which are openly accepted by the church. These dogmas are nothing but interpretations of the Holy Scripture and every dogma is based on a reference to the Holy Word of God. One such dogma released by the Church states that Mary is the Mother of God. We may often wonder that God is the Almighty, so why would He need a mother. It is by His great virtue that Mary has been titled the Mother of God. This can be compared to the great truth that we are called the sons and daughters of God, not because we deserve it but only because of our Lord’s virtue & His great Love due to which He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us and pay ransom for us by His Precious Blood. God is the Holy of Holies, in spite of this; He came down, humbled Himself and welcomes us to have union with Him.
Mary is called the Arc of Covenant (carrier of God’s glory). There is only one mediator between Heaven and earth – Jesus – because in Him the nature of God & nature of man is fully united. 1Timothy 2:5 says that Jesus is our mediator. For those who might argue that we already have a mediator then why do we need Mother Mary, the answer is in James 5:16 (The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective) Mother Mary is our most powerful intercessor. Mary’s intercession is not valid without Jesus. She receives all her energy from Jesus, since she is born Immaculate (without stain of sin). Whenever we take a look at a person, we analyze them & understand them by our flesh & blood. Similarly, our flesh & blood reveals to us that Jesus is the Son of Man but it is a revelation from God to make us understand that Jesus is the Son of God (Mathew 16:13-16 Peter’s Declaration of Jesus)
Luke 1:41-45 talks about Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth who is totally unaware of Mary’s condition, filled with the Holy Spirit, addresses Mary as the Mother of God, in the same way as Peter addresses Jesus as the Son of God by the power of the Spirit within him (Mathew 16:13-16 as seen above) .
A mother does not give birth only to the nature of a person but to a person completely, so Mary did not deliver the human nature of Jesus but gave birth to Jesus, true God and true man.
********************************************************************************

About Nisha - she works with accenture and is presently the asst.coordinator for professional wednesday prayer group who meet @ st.anthony's church 6:30pm

Friday, August 29, 2008

Aug 21st 'A Heart transplant' Ezk 36:26

26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  (Ezekiel (RSV) 36)

Just a few thoughts on this great surgeon and the surgery!

What would this 'Stoneness' mean to me? Let me look at my heart! What I have learned about the heart muscle(myocardium) tells me of its 'Sensitivity' especially to stretching- it  pumps more if it is stretched(some call it Starling's law). This definitely contrasts with a Stone - which is so 'Insensitive'- to all  external stimuli. Looks like the surgeon is right! ...true, my heart has developed  'fibrosis'..(one of the indications for a heart transplant - where heart becomes like a stone,unable to stretch and accommodate, sort of insensitivity)...my insensitivity towards the feelings and needs of people around me... towards people elsewhere....Yes I need a transplant.

This Surgeon and Surgery are but different: It wouldn't be a day's surgery I guess, It could be a daily one and a life long one too!

Could this be Painful? Oh yes.. some stretching,some tearing...

Isn't this what is happening in Communion? The host in many eucharistic miracles was transformed into  myocardium;Jesus is giving me His Heart  in the Eucharist for transplantation.Thanks to the great surgeon.

The Surgeon might ask you to donate some Blood for my surgery. Please donate or rather - intercede.Thanks.

joe

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Hearts Find No Rest : Reflection from Fr.Tom on St.Agustines Words

St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrate today (Aug.28), said in his immortal autobiography: The Confessions of St. Augustine: “Lord, you have made us for yourself and our hearts find no rest until they rest in you!”

The Lord made us like himself (Gen 1.26: …we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us.”). God is immense. Our adjectives that describe God and his attributes are negative in nature because we do not know what we are talking about. So we take available vocabulary and make a negative of if like: infinite, immense, immortal or we have other additions to the word like: almighty, all perfect, all holy, all powerful to give ever so imperfect an idea of God’s qualities. We do not have a direct knowledge of God’s holiness or his qualities. So we fumble around pretending to know who He is. But we do not. We have been made to his image and likeness so we share in His qualities. So limited things, finite things, created things do not satisfy us. Rather, they satisfy us for a time and we soon get tired of it and want something else, more satisfying. Soon we discover the emptiness of it all. Solomon was immensely rich, as rich as we could think of anyone being rich. He had as many women as he wanted. He had the best and abundance of everything the world could give. But at the end of it all he sadly confessed:

Ecclesiastes 1.1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: 2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." 3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? 8.All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 14. I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

There is a hunger and thirst in our hearts that created things cannot in any way satisfy. Only God alone can fill. Only the best will do for us. The best is yet to be. Only God is big enough for our hearts. So if we soon tire of power, glory, position, pleasure, human praise, human attainments, we should know, as the genius of Augustine discovered, that only God alone can satisfy us.


One person we all know did have this satisfaction, Mary of Nazareth, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She did not have any of the things to which we generally attach undue importance. But she had God: Lk 1.28The angel[ Gabriel] went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."….. 30. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God…… 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. ….. 42 In a loud voice she [Elizabeth] exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear…… 46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.

Keys of the Kingdom of heaven : Reflections from Fr.Tom

Keys of the Kingdom of heaven.

Jesus bestowed these keys to Peter as a reward for his confession of faith in the gospel we read at mass, 21st Ordinary Sunday (Mt 16.13-20). Jesus gave Peter, “The Rock”, the power to close and open the doors to eternal happiness.

To my thinking, Jesus has given us all keys, even if not of the same kind as he gave to Peter. Keys are symbols of power. They open or close. Even now when a city or hamlet wants to honor a person in a very special way, they bestow on the person the keys of the city or hamlet. Keys are symbols of possession. Thus when we buy a house from another, the seller gives to the buyer the keys of the house, thereby meaning that the house is now yours. You own the house. So also when we get the keys of a car or any other type of vehicle we own the vehicle for good or for a while.


God has given us keys to all of us. In the Church, at baptism we were given such keys to the kingdom of heaven. Faith was the key. Faith is still the key to all the promises of Jesus. One has to use the keys to have access to this kingdom of haven. Baptism gave us the key to the other six sacraments and graces they bestow. Faith gives us the key to unlock the secrets of the Word of God. How do we use these keys? Most of the time we just pocket the keys and do nothing to unlock the goodies they hide. We tend to live a life of spiritual poverty and starvation. Then we blame God or the Church for our situation. So many live lives of quiet desperation only because they forget that they have the keys to happiness for now and later. The sacraments unlock the infinite merits of Jesus’ passion and death but we live in penury. Why? Come on, use your keys. Be rich beyond measure. Be fed. You do not have to pay for it as it has already been paid for dearly by Jesus. This is why Isaiah says:
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” Is 55.1-3. Jesus in his own fashion invited all who are thirsty:
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as[a] the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” Jn 37-39.

But the tragedy is that we hear / read these saving words but we neither understand them nor heed them to our own discomfiture. We rather spend our “money” on trash, on junk food of the cheap soap operas of the TV and the internet. We have the key to a huge bank account but we rather live in utter spiritual poverty and degradation. Keys! Use your keys to princely living!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I need Confession!

Last sunday the 24th we had a Bible group to understand the significance of the 'Sacrament Of Confession'.I was deeply touched by the discussion and it convinced me that confession is something that will always help me reconcile with God & His people.I sometimes wonder why cant we confess our sins directly to God,wont he forgive our sins ?A'int our God merciful enough to forgive our sins? These questions must be in the minds of many people, well last week's Bible group helped me understand the biblical significance of confession and will help me from no more search for words when people try to question my faith on the point of confession.
Firstly when did confession start ? Confession has evolved we could say over times & ages.If we associate confesson to a practice only in the catholic church then we must read 'Leviticus chap:5', it speaks about confession and here a priest is making atonement on behalf of the people for their sins.Hebrews 10:1 tells us that the law in the old testment was a shadow of the reality to come and yes the reality was that Jesus - the high priest made atonement for the sins of all the mankind in the new testament.Then the obvious question is that if Christ is the priest who forgives and atones for our sin what is the role of 'Religious Priests' who are often the people we confess to.Well 1 John 8 clearly mentions the need for confession of sin to one another(It explicitily doesnt mention that we need to confess only to God and God alone) and when we say one another can we go to each other and confess our sins(havent seen or heard any such thing before) but James5:13 clearly tells that it is the elders of the church who are authorized by God to forgive sins and listen to confession.Elder in hebrew means 'Prispitos' meaning the 'Priest'.
God in his abundant mercy has given few selected human beings the power to forgive the sins (read Mat 9:1-8 & John 20:20-23)
A confession to a priest means a confession to Christ himself and God in his mercy has granted our priests the power to remove our sins in the name of Lord Jesus. God will forgive our sins the very second we are sorry for our sins and I dont think God will ever wait for a person to go for a confession and only then forgive him, no that aint our God.But confession helps us reconcile with the church and thus Gods people , avoiding out negativity from impacting the lives of others and am sure that to do a good and honest confession we need to be humble to the core and God's teaching us a beautiful lesson of humbleness through the sacrament of confession.Confession will enable us to be like what Jesus wanted as to be = 'as perfect as our Father in Heaven'.
These were few things that I understood & carried into life after the confession bible study group! Next week we will be studying biblically the truth about 'Mary - The Mother Of God'.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All raised their voices in prayer to God on hearng their story.......

For those who haven't received fr tom's forwards i am attaching the links to the recent events in Andhra and Orissa.Lets pray with the apostles Acts:4;24-31"all raised their voices in prayer to God on hearing their story.......http://www.theindiancatholic.com/report.asp?nid=11098http://www.donboscoindia.com/english/bis/default_ms.php?newsid=2151Joe

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Aug 12th 'little children 'Mat 18:5 &10

I woke up today just thinking of another day to be 'wasted' baby sitting!.Then came the word as usual in the breeze : in today's gospel reading - Jesus talks about little children.  'whoever receives such a child in my name receives me...See that you do not despise any of these little ones,for I tell you:their angels in heaven continually see the face of my heavenly father".

Whoever receives

...did I forget I have received these precious gifts from Him? They are His'? Yes, and do I have the right to reject when he wants to give me one?

Its just quite natural for me as a father to love them,enjoy them but today's gospel adds another' even higher dimension to this fathering experience: I am RECEIVING Christ when I am receiving my child, when I am catering to him,when I am baby sitting him. Isn't  it  wonderful to steal the most precious possession that way? Will it be like receiving him in Communion?

See that you do not despise ...God Forgive me & help me when the going gets tough! When the little one insists on sitting on the dining table and throwing noodles all around and when the older ones are stubborn.....God help me not to despise your little ones.

..their angels in heaven continually see the face of my heavenly father

I just don't know if it's a coincidence when I told this verse to my one yr old , he exclaimed 'Abba' staring somewhere. They must be really seeing His Face!

Joe

Monday, August 18, 2008

Salt of the Earth and Light of the World - from Fr.Tom

This is an article I found in my prayer that inspired me. It is a beautiful commentary on the words of Jesus from Matthew 5. 13-16. tom

Salt of the Earth and Light of the World


A reading from the homilies of St John Chrysostom on Mt 5. 13-16

“You are the salt of the earth.” The word is entrusted to you, Christ says, not for your life, but for the whole world. Nor am I sending you to two cities, or ten or twenty, nor to one people, as I once sent the prophets, but over land and sea, to the whole world, a world in very evil condition. For when he said, “You are the salt of the earth”, he showed that all human nature was rendered unsavory and corrupt by sin. Therefore he looks for those virtues in them principally which are the more necessary and useful for taking care of the many. The man who is gentle, modest, merciful and just does not shut up his good works in himself but is concerned that those fair springs should flow for the benefit of others. Again, he who is clean of heart; and a peacemakers who feels the urge for truth -- such a man orders his life for the benefit of all.

Do not think, he says, that you are being drawn into minor skirmishes, nor that you are dealing with matters of little moment. “You are the salt of the earth.” What then? Did they restore what was decayed? No. By mixing in salt they cannot help things already decayed. They certainly did not do this; but they mixed salt with what had already been renewed, freed from corruption, and handed over to them; and they preserved it in the newness received from the Lord. Deliverance from the corruption of sin required the power of Christ; to prevent a return to that corruption demanded hard work on their part.
You see how he gradually shows them to be superior to the prophets? He declares them to be teachers not of Palestine but of the whole world. So do not be surprised, he says, if I leave the rest and address you, and draw you on to such great dangers. Consider the number and vastness of the cities, peoples and races I am sending you to rule. So I desire not only that you be prudent, but that you should make others like yourselves. If you are not men of that kind, you will not be able even to look after yourselves.

For others who have lost their savor can recover it through your ministry; but if you fall into that evil condition, you draw others into ruin with you. So the greater the task entrusted to you, the greater effort you need. That is why Christ says: “If the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men”.

To prevent their being afraid to go forth in public when hearing the words, “When men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you”, he says: “If you are not ready for these things, you have been chosen vain. You will inevitably be abused but it will do you no harm at all. Rather it will witness to your constancy. If, however, through fear of abuse you fall away from the zeal that befits you, you are likely to have much worse suffer¬ings, to have a bad name with everyone, and to be an object of contempt to all: that is what being trodden under foot means.”

Then he goes on to another and more sublime metaphor: “You are the light of the world.” Once more, of the world, not of one nation or of twenty cities, but of the whole earth: a light to the mind; surpassing the rays of the sun, just as they are a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, to teach you what profit proceeds from ardent preaching, what benefit from serious doctrine. For their effect is to bind fast and make firm they give clear sight and lead us on to virtue. “A city set on a hill cannot be hid; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel.” Again by these words he urges them to a well-ordered way of life, teaching them to be ready for action, since they live with all eyes upon them, contestants in the center of a stadium that is the world.

NB Highlighting and underlining by me, Tom.

Divine Office, III, pp 429- 431.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Testimony from South Africa

This is a sharing by one of my friend,sis called Abigail from South Africa.She sent this over to me .She was in Bangalore few years back for studies.She was born in an Islamic family but now is standing for Jesus Christ,more than any of us. Let us read her testimony below!

Praise the lord my dear friends! i would like to share with you the most amazing hell of a ride,with what happened to me,and how God helped me,get through this...He helped me,and he will help you too....just have faith in him and he shall calm the storms that you going through in your life, all things are possible with God....!!! in him you shall seek refuge,in his arms he will protect and shield you.
Anyways,heres what happened on Tuesday night 5 august 2008 .......i was been falsely accused and blamed for,all the students living with me in the house turned against me at that time (i recall,when people put false accusation on our Lord Jesus and yet he forgave them and his love for them remained the same),,i accepted the blame inorder to avoid arguments even though they were lying, some of the stuff they were saying wasnt true...and some were, of which i accepted...dirty and nasty things were said and i was sweared at like i quote them as sayin "u r the worst person on this earth" and deep down i said thanks coz maybe i am...some i wont mention as twas really bad...but i thank God that i was strong enough to bear the pain at that time,and now i realized that God had given me the strength and wisdom ,and that he was holdin my hand and sitting next to me whispering his precious words,"You will be fine", "forgive and love them for i will forgive you and i love you", "i will!
never put you into trials that u cannot bear",trials come to make you strong,"i will never leave you"...all this wonderful words of his touched me and healed me, his gentle hands holding me....why dint i realize it at that time,that he was there???one thing i knew that he had answerd my prayers coz i asked him to give me inner strength and wisdom...when this people were nagging and falsely accusing me,i could smell and feel a bad aroma in that surrounding,i couldn't understand what it was,i couldn't see them anymore i could just see something wierd in them...i cant explain what it was...it was just too harsh and very cruel surrounding...but i was happy and not scared coz Jesus was holding my hand...i know he will neva put me down...well i asked them for forgiveness and dint get their response,i learnt that wen i was told, i am the worst human being on this earth,that very moment God told me "not to take it to heart" and that "i shouldnt think that i am worst,coz i created !
everyone perfect", "it doesnt matter what people say, for i am your wi
tness",what matters is what God thinks of me..he is my witness and my judge.Well i do accept that what i did after everything was said to me was wrong,coz i was just tooo hurt ,after that i guess God allowed me to cry alone in my room though he was there...and when i planned to commit a suicide by overdosing 6 tabs, couldnt eat more coz water was finished ,i think Jesus said twas enough and besides he never liked what i did,he tried to stop me but i guess i was too stubborn to listen to him, so Jesus found a way, and that was, there was no more water left in the glass or the bottle and i was feeling very low or lazy i should say to get another glass of water and so i ended up not eating the rest of the tablets.,it wasnt my time to die and besides why would i hurt myself for what people do or say to me???i should be hurt if i do something that is unpleasing to God!!!for he is my lord ,my saviour,my friend,my master,my king whom i serve!!!.
But now i have this sudden joy and happiness in me that i cant describe,,sometimes am just tooo confused that i shud be crying over what happened, but instead i am happy...alot of good things are happening after Tuesday(the day of hell) and am glad that it is Jesus' way of makin me happy...he knew i love animals and the next day,in the mornin i saw a cute dog and i smiled praising the lord...my friend got me a chocolate,he knew i was sad,and Jesus told him i guess to get me one (i love chocolates,lol),my other friend took me out for lunch and after fifteen minutes got a call from my other frend who took me for a coffee lol i guess i was pretty spoiled hmmm.. (non of these friends knew the hard times i went through)......well in all this people, i knew i had lunch with Jesus and a chocolate from him..lol...He is amazing!!!God works in miraculous ways in our lives,it was a hell of a ride but it was exciting and amazing and fun to be with Jesus all this tym Hallelujah!!!!
My dear beloved,wonderful children of God,
Never give up on Jesus!!!,when times are tough and the roads are rough and there is nowhere to run try Jesus,in a lightening of a second he will get you out of it without you knowing it,all you need to do is have faith in him and trust him with all your heart.He knows your problems,your weaknesses,he cries wen you cry,his hurt when you hurt,he understands the pain you going through...he loves you more than your own earthly parents,his love for you and me is unconditional,and he proved it on the cross so that we the sinners might be saved!!!!
He hold me tightly in his arms,i felt safe,he hugs you and me everyday,but we just dont have the time to realize it.He talks to us but we dont have time to listen to him,every second of everyday he says he loves us,when we are asleep he watches over us with a smile on his face,even if we dint have time for him,his love for us never change....Let us have time for our precious lord Jesus christ,and see how our lives can be changed...let us give ourselves to him...and keep him the first in our lives...
Jesus is my everything!!! and so he shall be yours...
God be with you always...He loves you,you are precious in his eyes....and i love you too...
your sis in christ
Abigail

ISO Certification!

It was 2:12 am and I was wide awake, felt like I'm in a totally different timezone. I just couldn't get back to sleep.
I got up seeing a dream that I just recieved a mail about ISO certification at office. For the benefit of those who don't know what ISO is - ISO or International Organization for Standardization, is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards. This organization helps set various standards for corporates and governements. (source: wikepedia). Such certifications enable companies to maintain a certain level quality in their processes.

As I continued pondering over this dream a sudden thought struck me - what is the Quality Check for Christians? For Jesus Youths? If JY had to get ISO certification (read: JSO - Jesus' organization for standardization), what would be the parameters? Hmmmm...wait... do we not already have a standard - a benchmark that we follow? For years we have called it 'Constants' - 6 pillars of Jesus Youth. Wonder how many of us would actually get certified if we were to be assessed by these parameters. I for one would be the first to get disqualified!

Another thought (wonder why the Lord has to wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me all this!!!) - do we not have a benchmark, higher than any set by the best companies of the world? Jesus has already set for us parameters by which we are to be certified fit for His Kingdom. And I feel, even if we were to fail in every parameter but pass on 'Love', we've achieved our goal. Sounds quite simple, doesn't it!

When the Lord speaks, he usually expects me to make notes. Still lying on the bed, I debate, whether to get up and write these thought's down. "Dad, I'm too lazy to get up", I mumble from under my blanket. Not too long ago I learnt that obedience was better - so squinting in the sudden brightness of the tubelight I put my pen and paper to use. Well, if obedience was indeed one of the assessment parameters, I shouldn't be loosing out on the points - should I?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reflections on Ezechiel 1: 2-5;24-28 from Father Tom

Last Monday, the first reading was from Ezechiel 1: 2-5;24-28.

This reading set me thinking of the grandeur and majesty of our God. Other prophets also had similar visions (Isaiah, Daniel, John the apostle) of the greatness of God. This is often called by the term: theophany, revelation of God as was the Transfiguration on Mt Thabor. Recall the bone-chilling way the Lord appeared on Sinai. Why does God do this? For my part, I think He does that to make us realize his total "otherness". He is so unlike us. When we talk of God being almighty, infinite, all holy, all light, all pure, all majesty, etc, they are abstract ideas that we have made to make us understand his total greatness, quite apart from us. This theophany makes us realize our smallness, limitedness, nothingness, our creatureliness. When we confront this greatness of God, we should naturally feel so small and puny and microscopic. This greatness alone should make us realize our constant need to be humble before this majesty. When we look at the Infant Jesus in the crib of Bethlehem, we realize how immensity was made small for our sakes. He took on our humble human nature to adapt his greatness to our size. He reduced himself even further in the Holy Eucharist to become a piece of Bread and a few drops of Wine to be our food and drink! This is mind boggling, mind blowing! In the presence of this great humility of God, our pride is simply madness, atrocious and incredible! God being humble! That is it. Of Moses it was said that he was the humblest of all men. Jesus became humble even to the point of self emptying. No wonder that the Lord hates the proud and exalts the humble. tom