Sunday, December 20, 2009

Courage to answer a call

Christmas seems to be an apt time to think about our call and what it takes to say Yes to God. I wonder what Mother Mary would have gone through when she said yes. Did she realize what she was saying yes to?

All of us at some point in our life stand at that juncture where we have to make a choice, say no to our own plans and say yes to a greater call. Its good to reflect using our dear Mother as an example. I think she had absolutely no clue about the magnanimity of the task at hand when she said that Yes. (Luke 1:38) She probably only knew what angel Gabriel told her - that God had chosen her to bear a son who would save the world. She was also told by Simeon that a sword would pierce her heart (Luke 2:35)... That's it. Then there was a life long silence from God's side. I am quite sure she never had the blueprint of her life with her when she began her journey. Step by step she realized God's plan and the purpose of her call.. treasuring all these things in her heart(Luke 2:51).

I believe that's what happens to us as well, as we prepare ourselves to say Yes to God. We may never know how huge the task is and we might often question God - Why me? But like Mother Mary, let's learn to silently let God work. And step by step, little by little the blueprint becomes clearer and life begins to make more sense.

This Christmas let's pray for the grace to accept God's plan and purpose and the willingness to say Yes to a greater call.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thank you God

Many times I wonder, how my life would've been if I hadn't known Christ, if I wasn't a Catholic! And those are moments when I can't help thanking God for Him in my life. My days are spent in prayer and a constant struggle to do what my Lord wills. I'm sure thats the case with most of us as well. Just to think, if it wasn't so...! If it weren't for the struggles we face, just because we love the Lord, or at least try to. If it wasn't for the pain of detachment and the joy of knowing that Christ alone suffices... our lives would have been so incomplete. So rightly did Christ himself say, "... but apart from me, you can do nothing" Jn 15:5. I can't thank God enough for making my life ever so meaningful through all the struggles... :-)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A simple lesson in faith…

Here’s a small incident which helped open my eyes a little bit more to understanding what Jesus meant by wanting us to be like children…...

Last Friday I had to take an auto from home to take our 3½ year old son Daniel to his playschool. I had to walk a small stretch of road with him to get to the main road, and then we stood there for a while waiting for an auto to pass by. The road to the school was pretty bad and bumpy and it was also dug up to lay some pipes. So no autos were passing that way, and those that did refused to go where we wanted to - and it was getting late for school.

After a while I spotted one auto coming our way and I told Daniel 'Let's ask Jesus to help us' and added a small prayer aloud for him to hear ,'Jesus, please let that auto stop'. When the auto came nearer, I realized that it already had a passenger. So I put my foot back and told Daniel, 'This won't stop, it already has someone in it'. But Daniel pulled me forward again holding my hand, and said,'But....but….Jesus…...'. He didn't complete the sentence because he didn't know how exactly to phrase it, but I knew that what he meant to say was, 'But didn't we tell Jesus?'. Feeling sorry that he was disappointed, I explained to him 'I know, we prayed to Jesus, but this auto can't stop because someone else is already in it....'

To my surprise, the auto stopped on the side and the driver told us to get in. The passenger, who was an elderly person, scooted to one side to make room. It was a 15-20 minutes ride to school, and that kind man had lost 10 minutes of his time in the process of taking the deviation to drop us. I was so grateful to both him and the auto driver, and when I thanked him, the man said 'not a problem. I only did what I would have done for my daughter'. Knowing auto drivers in Bangalore, it is truly a miracle that the auto driver and the man showed the kindness to stop for us.

Even though it's been awhile, the way Daniel said 'But….but… Jesus….' and the expression that went with it still stays fresh in my mind. With the amount of faith I had, I believed that Jesus could make the auto stop, provided it was unoccupied - whereas the child believed firmly that Jesus could stop the auto no matter what. Isn't that a HUGE difference?

Though a small incident, I believe it came with the big lesson for me that this is the kind of 'blind faith/trust' that Jesus asks of us. Praise God!

Lucy (Feb 2008)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two men of faith whom I have been blessed to know contd ..

I continue my writing about Shaju brother from the earlier posting. (Link to earlier post)

As I told you Shaju brother's small family serves Jesus through their service of the destitute they pick up from the streets. At Akashaparavakal you can call them at any time of the day about a destitute that you find on the roadside needing help. Shaju brother and his companions will come with an ambulance which one of their well wishers have donated and take him in. They never say no when a brother of theirs is in need of their service. So their house is always over flowing with people they care for. Shaju brother’s family consists of him, his wife Shiji and their 4 year old son Michael. Their lives are dedicated in service of these "Makkal" that they have adopted into their lives. I have seen Michael freely playing around with these people from his infant years, loving them and treating them as members of their own family. Shaju brother, his family and his companions take care of the people God has put in their care with lots of love and care. They believe that their house belong to the "Makkal" and they are the servants, God has put in that house in service of the destitute.

When I went first to Akashaparavakal, they were in a small house of which one room was set apart as a chapel and the whole house overflowing with people. It would have been big enough for a small family to live comfortably and it had Shaju brother’s small family, two other brothers from Akashaparavakal whose lives have been dedicated to the service of the destitute and then 10 - 13 of Gods people they were taking care of. That small house was never enough. After some time, they were offered a piece of land and a small building on the outskirts of the city with another small house and soon they had two houses which were full. Seeing their plight, a person who was into construction business offered his services free to build a better house on the first plot of land, with the condition that Akashaparavakal would find the money for the building materials. The building contractor himself drew up the plan and God inspired them to build a house which could house 20 people. The estimate came up to 7 lakhs (700000) with Shaju brother having a few thousand rupees with him. Shaju brother started off the construction in faith and still he never went out soliciting money for the construction. God provided, all through different people and the house got constructed with never more than a few 1000 rupees in hand at any time. Jesus provided the right amount of money at the right times through different people, often people whom Shaju brother had never even met before. That house is now full with Gods beloved.

Then again God inspired the contractor who built this house to offer to build a bigger house on the other plot of land also on the same conditions that Akashaparavakal would provide the materials and he would provide the labor at a much reduced cost. This time God inspired them to have a house which could house 100 people with enough facilities for taking care of them. The estimate came out to be 50 lakhs (5,000,000). During this time, the Collector of the area in the suburb of Bangalore where Shaju brother was doing his service came to know about the work he was doing among the destitute and offered to do every thing in his capacity to get him all clearances for foreign funding and help him to get the funds also. Shaju brother and his companions prayed together and decided that the people whom they take care belong to this land and God would provide from his abundance through the people of this land itself. So they rejected the idea of going for foreign funds. They came to the conclusion that they would not be able to experience the faith in Gods providence that meets their every day needs and nothing more if they had the plentiful access to foreign funds. So now the construction of the new building is going on. The final cost has gone up from 50 lakhs. The construction is in crisis lots of times because of paucity of funds. But as Shaju brother says, Jesus has never allowed the construction to come to a stand still and it continues. Shaju brother still continues to depend on the abundant graces of his loving God while he on most days just has enough to feed the people through the next few days. But Gods abundance never runs out and Shaju brother’s faith also never runs out.

Recently I was there at Akashaparavakal to spend a day there. I joined with them for the prayer service that they have before lunch. It was nothing great like the beautiful praise and worship services that I go to. It didn't have any beautiful prayers. It mostly consisted of a lot of Hallelujahs’ said by the makkal thanking god while one of the brothers

thanked God for the simple things God provided for in their lives, like the food on their plates, the clothes on their back, the roof over their heads, the strength in their limbs etc. And the inmates would say hallelujah. There were a few familiar songs sung with the people joining in very off key. But I could feel the presence of Christ walking among his beloved people. I could feel the love of Christ flowing through which brought tears to my eyes. What a treasure they had, the infinite love and graces of a God who had their names engraved in his palms and provided every thing that they needed from his abundance. Jesus asked nothing back from them other than their child like love for Him. I enjoyed true praise and worship. I enjoyed the love of God flowing through. And I still learn the basics of faith from Shaju brother and the other brothers at Akashaparavakal.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Wedding at Cana

Personal reflection based on John 2:1-11

Context: - Mother Mary finds out that the hosts at the wedding feast are out of wine, and secretly tells her son about it. Jesus asks, ‘What is that to us?’ (in another translation, ‘How does that concern us?’) :

I have always felt uncomfortable reading this part, because it sounded rather arrogant and disrespectful, and I didn’t want to think that Jesus was in fact disrespectful with His mother. So whenever I read this narration of the wedding at Cana, I just flipped by this verse fast and never stopped a moment to ponder about it.

Today as I felt inspired to read this account again, and I asked the Holy Spirit to take away the uneasiness from me, and help me understand the conversation between Jesus and His mother Mary in its truest sense.

The picture that rightaway came to my mind was of Jesus and Mary talking to each other with a mischievous smile on their faces. And instantly, the uneasiness drifted away from my mind, and I started seeing the special relationship between the mother and the Son. Let me try to explain this as best as I can.….:

When we go to a movie theatre with our children, they say, ‘Mummy/Daddy, there’s popcorn over there!’, without really saying that they want the popcorn. Fully realizing that they are asking for the popcorn, yet unwilling to admit it to them, we say, ‘So what?’, with a naughty smile. We want to wait and see if they ask the explicit question, ‘Can you buy the popcorn for us?’ Much the same way, when Mary tells Jesus ‘they are out of wine’, Jesus asks, ‘So what?’ (‘What is that to us?’). In the picture that I have in my mind, Mary looks back at Jesus with the same smile and raised eyebrows, conveying something like ‘You must be kidding!’ The people who heard this may not have understood, but this was their special conversation, and they understood each other, which was all that mattered. I loved this picture so much that I closed my eyes and savored this scene and their faces for just a little bit more.

Anyways mother Mary, fully aware of what her son is capable of, does not answer Jesus’s question of ‘so what?’. She just turns around and tells the workers, ‘Do whatever He tells you to do’. Mary doesn’t explicitly tell Jesus what she wants Him to do (may be she understood how different His ways are…), but in telling the workers ‘do whatever He tells you’, she hints to Jesus that whatever He does, he has to involve the workers/servers. Not the manager; not the headwaiter – the servers. Mary picked the lowly. Through mother Mary’s mediation/intercession, the servers were chosen to become part of this first miracle of Jesus. The very fact that Jesus takes this little hint from His mother and obeys it shows the utter respect and regard that He has for her – and now when I think back, there is not the slightest room at all for the thought about being disrespectful!

Also, just imagine the respect that mother Mary’s words must have had there at the wedding feast! The workers pay attention to her and obey what her son asks them to do – which, in the eyes of the world, would be utter foolishness. To fill the huge water jars with water and then pour some out and take to their boss? There would be no better reason for those workers to lose their jobs! But still, they obeyed it. It may be foolishness in the eyes of the world, but they didn’t care. They didn’t reason; they didn’t try to apply human logic to what was asked of them – they just obeyed. With them was present mother Mary - the prime example of humility and obedience to the will of God. The very presence of this blessed mother humbled their hearts – and made them capable of obeying Jesus. And God’s glory was revealed to them – they beheld the miracle of water turning to wine right before their eyes. ‘Nobody knew where the wine came from; but the workers knew.’

Let this be a lesson in humility for us. Let us submit our will to the will of God, and be ready to follow mother Mary’s example in saying ‘Here’s the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to Thy will’. Let us have the mindset of John the Baptist – He must increase, and I must decrease.

Here are a few more thoughts I had on this:
- When they ran out of wine, Jesus doesn’t provide them just enough to get through; He gives in abundance - 6 stone jars, each holding 20-30 gallons, filled upto the brim! How generous!

- The jars were filled with water upto the brim. But as long as it stayed in the jars, it was water. When poured out, it turned into wine. Water was good, but when poured out, it became wine - the good wine – better than what they had before. Just the same way, God has filled us with gifts and talents – and they are good. But when poured out for others, they get transformed into something on a much higher level.

- Mother Mary finds out by herself that the hosts were out of wine. The scripture doesn’t say that they entrusted her to take care of everything. All they did was invite Jesus and Mary to their homes. Like them, let us also invite Jesus and Mary into our homes. We don’t even need to tell her what we need. Just make sure we invite them – every single day, into our hearts, our homes, our lives. If our blessed mother is there, she will find out, tell her Son, and fill us up with what we lack.

From being a scripture passage that I tried to avoid contemplating on, this has now turned out to be one of my favorites. Especially the verse ‘what is that to us?’! Isn’t it amazing how the Holy Spirit sheds His light into our minds and takes the darkness away? I praise and thank God for this enlightenment.

Lucy (March 2005)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A testimony to God's saving grace...

(Written down more than 4 years back, but posting now…)

Thursday, March 17, 2005, 6:45AM
This happened a few weeks back:

Went to bed on the Thursday night, after having decided to go for the 8am mass the next morning, which was 1st Friday.
I didn’t have a restful night, because Daniel was up many times due to a cold. So I felt lazy and tired as I woke up in the morning.

These are the series of thoughts that raced through my mind as I was lying in bed:
• Should I go to church now? I didn’t sleep well and I feel tired. Need I?
• It’s not a day of obligation ……
• What’s so special about Fridays anyways?
• And first Fridays – what’s so special about that?
• First Friday mass, adorations, etc – it’s all just a hype.

The very instant that the word ‘hype’ entered my mind, I knew it had come from satan. There is no other way that such an infrequently used word in my normal vocabulary (especially in regard to religious matters) should enter my mind – no doubt, I realized – satan had put it in there. Still feeling shocked at the thought that satan had almost got me, I jumped out of bed, headed straight for the bathroom, and in no time, I was ready for church.

For many days from then, this incident has been coming to me as a flashback – like the kind of flashback that plays in your mind when you have a narrow escape from an accident…

Today, I woke up at about 6, and came with Daniel to the living room to pray. The above incident again flashed back in my mind…

To think that Satan almost got me makes me shudder… What if I did not recognize satan’s voice and had given in? He would have really got me. I know that not going to church on a first Friday is not a sin – I myself am not able to go on all First Fridays – But having made the decision to go, and then changing my mind after giving in to satan’s excuses/justifications/lies – that very thought scares me still.. I feel that God really pulled me out of bed and got me ready – if I had just lay there, pondering over the thoughts and those justifications, I would have fallen. I really felt God’s saving hands literally pulling me out of bed and saving me from the clutches of the devil. This was a real encounter with ‘the evil one’, and I am very aware of satan’s presence now – and ever more aware of God’s saving grace…

I felt a strong inspiration to pray the ‘Our Father’…

When I came to the part ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ , I found myself praying with all earnestness, like I’ve never ever prayed before – fully aware of my helplessness – fully aware of my need for God’s mercy…Fully aware that my God is a merciful, loving and saving God.

Here are the thoughts to which the Spirit led me….:

Satan acts in subtle ways which might seem very logical to us - and not in obvious ways that are easy for us to make out… So we need to pray earnestly – Lord, lead us not to temptation, but deliver us from evil.

I meditated on Jesus praying at Gethsamene. Jesus told his disciples ‘Keep watch and pray that you may not fall into temptation’. Another translation says ‘Get up and pray that you may not fall into temptation’.

Jesus wants us to keep watch/get up in both spiritual as well as physical sense. Spiritually, he tells us ‘keep watch - be constantly aware of the tempter’. In the physical sense, he tells us to watch out when our bodies are sleepy and idle and weak. There are times in the morning when we are really awake, but feel like lying down some more – those are the times that idle thoughts crowd into our minds. That is a dangerous time. That’s a time which satan can easily use to get us – to tempt us to do things against God’s will; to tempt us to refrain from doing the good things that we planned to do…

The story of the Gingerbread boy (an old folk tale) came to my mind…:

There was once an old man and woman who did not have any children. One day the woman said ‘I will make myself a gingerbread boy’. She makes gingerbread shaped like a boy and puts it in the oven. When she opens the oven door to see if it was baked, the gingerbread boy runs out the oven door and out of the house. The man and the woman run after him but the boy runs faster, saying ‘Run, run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread boy’. The boy meets a cow, a horse, a pig, and some farmers along the way, and each of them shouts at him ‘Stop! I want to eat you!’. The boy manages to run away from each of them, saying ‘Run, run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread boy’. The boy reaches a river which he has to cross to get away from them all, but he has to stop because he can’t get himself in the water. Then a fox comes by, and says ‘I’ll help you’. The fox asks the gingerbread boy to hop onto his back, and says he will take him across the river. The boy hops on. The fox starts walking with the boy on his back. As the water gets deeper, the fox asks the boy to hop onto his shoulder so he wouldn’t get wet, and then after a while, onto his head, and then finally his nose. Then, with a toss of his head, the fox gulps down the gingerbread boy.

Isn’t this really how the devil takes us for a ride? We may do a good job running away from the things that are obviously wrong. But the real wicked one awaits us with his most cunning, seemingly innocent plots. Much like the gingerbread boy, don’t we also, at times, run away from the loving God who made us? And when we are confronted with troubles and feel helpless, satan appears from nowhere and offers help. He puts forth action plans for us that are against the will of God and fills our minds with logical reasonings that justify his plans. He entices us to hop on for a cool and comfy piggyback ride – how scary!

It’s only our God’s grace that will enable us to break away from his bondage. It’s only God’s grace that will give us the wisdom to choose what is right. Let’s ask our merciful God to be our stronghold in times of trouble, and to set us free from the wickedness and snares of the devil…

When we lie down idle, our minds sometimes get crowded with negative thoughts and reasonings. These may lead us not just to do things that are bad or wrong, but may also pull us back from the good that we plan to do.

Some of the thoughts that satan frequently uses to get us:
- it is ok to talk ill of a person if the person doesn’t hear it…
- it is ok to not say the truth if it doesn’t hurt anyone…
- if everybody does it, it should be ok to do…

We need to force ourselves out of such thoughts. Cut it off. ‘Run run run as fast as you can’. But instead of saying ‘you cant catch me, I’m the gingerbread boy’, let’s not trust in ourselves, but in Divine Providence, in Divine mercy. Let’s say ’Run run run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, for I belong to God’

I thought again about how, by God’s mercy, I was saved from the devil’s clutches. How God kept me from the evil one. In John 17, Jesus prays for his disciples - He prays to the Father ‘Keep them from the evil one’. I realized that Jesus prayed this prayer for me – He asked the Father to keep me from the evil one, and behold! I was kept from the evil one!

Praise God!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two men of faith whom I have been blessed to know

Dear Friends I wanted to write about two men of faith I have been privileged to know. I will write about them in a few posts so that this will not become one looooong post.

The first one, I came into touch with him when he was started his ministry a little while back. I met him when a very good friend of mine Fr.Varghese took me to visit Akashaparavakal (means Birds of the sky), a home for looking after the destitute picked up from streets. Fr Varghese had a mass there and I tagged along. There I met the person who started the house in Bangalore, Shaju brother. A simple man with an unkempt beard and wearing a simple kavi (saffron) attire and no sandals on his feet. Since then I have known him for almost 5 years and I have never seen him with out a pleasant heart warming smile on his face.

I was touched by his work, he had a small house and it was overflowing with people. All of them were destitute people picked from roadsides, some were sick and dying, 90% were people who were mentally ill. They had either wandered out of their homes or were left on the roads to survive for themselves. They didn't know who they were or where they had come from. Some of them had festering wounds on their bodies collected through their wanderings. He told me there were maggots in those wounds when he found some of his children (makkal), as he calls them. He and the two other brothers he had with him to help, along with his family nursed them back to good health.

I asked him how he manged the food and medicines for them all, as most of them needed psychiatric as well as other medicines. He told me "God's providence" keeps him with out lack all through. I was touched and I told him any time you are in need of money you can call me. I gave my number to him. Two or three months passed by before I again accompanied Fr. Varghese to mass at the Akashaparavakal. The first thing I asked Shaju brother was, why he had never called me, didn't have any lack of money during this time at all ? He told me that they had even come to stages where there was not even a morsel in the house but they all prayed together, including the "children", at the chapel and the food came through. He described an incident a week ago, where they had nothing to cook and in the evening they were all praying together at the chapel asking the good Lord provide them with their supper. A man they had never met walked in with 10 KG of rice and he had heard of the house from a friend of his. He thought it would be nice to take a bag of rice when he went to visit them first. I was touched but was skeptical. I asked him, why he didn't call me at all with such need. He told God does not let His beloved to beg, he will provide from his abundance. He also added if you are provided for more than your daily bread, one will not be able to exercise your faith. I took the money I had in my pocket and gave it to him. He counted it gave me a receipt for that and said, I needed this for settling the account at the provision shop and if we didn't we would not have got our provisions at all. I was a little bit amused. I still was not convinced. I kept visiting house and helped out in any way I can. There used to be brothers from near by seminaries who came to stay there and help out during their holidays and semester breaks. I happened to be there when a few of them completed and were going off. They shared their experiences while they were staying at the house. And they told me about several incidents like these where God provided at the right moment what was needed, nothing more nothing less. They all went strengthened in their faith from there. I heard numerous such incidents all though my association and have come to expect that these every day miracle will happen in their lives. I would be surprised if those little miracles did not take place.

As our friendship grew, Shaju brother told me the secret of how he prayed. Every morning he wrote down the needs of the house on a piece of paper in the chapel, gave it to God and went on with his daily chores keeping the paper in his pocket. When ever he put his hand in his pocket for taking out some thing, the piece of paper came out with it and he prayed for the needs. And unfailingly His God provided.

I will continue writing about Shaju brother in my next post. Let me stop here and thank the God who is his and mine for His generosity in our lives. I have been blessed abundantly with material riches in my life, but Shaju brother has been blessed with more, with an abundant faith which can provide for every thing else.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chosen to bless, not curse.

It was the diwali weekend, and there were crackers bursting all around us. By Friday evening it started getting really loud and we were wondering how our one month old Joel would react – he didn’t mind the ‘maala padakkams’ so much, but those singled-out extra-loud ones bothered and startled him, especially by night time. The moment I put him down on the bed, there would be a loud one and he would wake up. This went on for quite some time - startling him and making him wake up crying. The previous few nights had been quite tiring, as Joel couldn’t sleep because of a stuffy nose, and I was quite drained by Friday evening, just wanting to crash on the bed. Anyway I decided to wait patiently till 10 pm, because a notice in our apartment complex had said that loud crackers were not allowed beyond 10pm. So I looked forward to 10 O’clock, hoping that both of us would finally be able to get some sleep.

But it only got worse, with more and more of those extra-loud ones. I tried telling the security to request the offenders to comply with the notice that was put up, but the security guys didn’t have the guts to do that. After about 10:30, I could take it no longer. I just put the baby down on the bed, stepped out to the balcony and called out to one of our neighbours who was in action right in front, asking him to please stop the loud ones, not forgetting to remind him about the notice as well. He and his family obliged, and there was peace and calm for about 10 minutes.

Then again it started, and when I looked from our bedroom window, I could see a family down there, making all this noise and having a fun time. Again poor Joel was waking up crying and poor me was walking around with him, trying to pacify him – and the time was well past 11! Anger and irritation were welling up inside me, along with tiredness and sleepiness.

The very sight of them bursting the crackers made me so full of hatred, that I said this loud enough so I could hear myself : ‘One of those crackers should burst right on their faces and kill them’. Immediately the thought came to me, that what I just uttered was a curse. The next thought followed : ‘O, good – let me do it again.’ And this time I repeated what I had said earlier – consciously, deliberately and spitefully, fully knowing that it was a curse. It was something I had never done before in my life - and honestly, I felt proud of myself! – for a few moments.

And then came the next thought, like a slap on my face – ‘What did I just do? Can someone who knows Jesus say things like that?’ I myself was surprised that the word ‘Jesus’ could find its way to my mind, even amidst so much hatred and turbulence. I came to my senses. I closed my eyes and said St.Michael’s prayer three to four times in a row. Then I said the divine mercy chaplet, asking for God’s pardon and mercy on me. I even prayed sincerely for blessings on that family down there. I desperately wanted to reverse everything I had thought and said earlier. I could feel a flooding in of God’s peace. The crackers went on for some more time, but they didn’t bother me anymore. Joel also fell asleep.

The story doesn’t end here… The following evening was diwali celebration at the apartment complex, and Roshan had bought some no-noise stuff - sparklers and flower pots (‘kambithiri’, ‘poothiri’) – to light with the children. They went down and were enjoying lighting these with a friend’s family. One of the flowerpots suddenly caught fire and burst upon lighting - (must have been a faulty one – bcoz they are not supposed to burst), and a flame brushed close to Roshan’s face. They got a fright at first, but nothing had happened. Roshan came back and told me that it was divine protection that kept him safe - there were some parts of the burnt stuff stuck on his eyeglasses! Immediately I remembered (with shame and shock) what I had wished for the other family the previous night – the exact same thing could have happened to one of us now, if it had not been for God’s protection. It was a reminder and an example of God’s unconditional love and mercy and forgiveness….

All along the previous night, there was some part of the Bible coming to my mind, which said that we should never curse, only bless - but I had been shutting it off. I looked it up the next morning, and found it in Psalm 109:28 - ‘They may curse, but you will bless.’

It’s been more than a week now, but I have been thinking and reflecting on this a lot these days, and the verse ‘they may curse, but you will bless’ keeps coming to my mind – it says, ‘it doesn’t matter what others do, but you will do what I tell you to do’…….. ‘They may cheat, but you will not’; ‘They may gossip, but you will not’; ‘They may tell lies, but you will speak the truth’; …….. Yes, by being the chosen ones, isn’t it a privilege to be ordered around by the one who chose us? I love its commanding tone.

It is true, we have accepted the Lordship of Jesus in our lives - but now I also see how important it is to re-affirm this Lordship every single day - just to tell him over and over again that he does have the permission and right to hurry and rush to our rescue with his saving grace, when we get caught up in our weaknesses, like I was. When we entrust ourselves into his hands, he will somehow find his way through - however stubborn and turbulent our hearts may be at that time, like mine was…..

Praise God! Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, November 6, 2009

To "Seek" the "Kingdom of God"

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well", (Mt 6:33), has been the one source of motivation for me during my difficult times. Of late I have been reflecting on what it really means to "Seek" the "Kingdom of God". I feel to "seek" would mean to tirelessly pursue, to preoccupy oneself with the works of the Kingdom. So much so that everything else becomes secondary. Jesus' preoccupation about His father's Kingdom was evident in his ministry. For him his family and friends were always "outside waiting for him". I believe we must constantly strive to let the Kingdom of God be established in us. That would mean to be always and at every moment desiring His Will to be done in our lives and thereby enjoying the fruits of salvation in us - enjoying His love, joy and peace in us. As we continue with this pursuit, we will find ourselves, "compelled by the love of Christ" (2 Cor 5:14) to go out and actively engage ourselves in sharing this love with others. Then making ourselves available for the activities of the Kingdom will cease to be a burden, rather it will become acts of love to God and to his people.

Being Prolife - Where do I start?

An unborn baby crying for an opportunity to live in his/her own mother’s womb, a small child craving for love from his/her separated parents, a teen deciding to commit suicide due to exam failures, an young adult sad & frustrated due to love failure, an husband seeking for love from his wife, a wife expecting her husband’s loyalty, an overburdened employee, a grandpa/grandma desiring his/her child’s care in old age…..yes from birth to death the opportunities to be pro-life are plenty and countless in nature.
We all know that God created us in His own image and likeness (Gen 1:26) and this is a privilege we still enjoy today. Every human being created in the image and likeness of God deserves respect that which honor’s God’s decision to create us. The very moment we disrespect human life we disrespect God’s choice. So I feel being pro-life is not only about respecting life but also about acknowledging the fact that God’s creations are good and His decision the best.
As a young software professional I many times have felt that being pro-life is not my cup of tea and it is meant only for people in the healthcare industry our doctor , nurses , religious fraternity etc…It took many years of learning but being pro-life definitely is every one’s cup of tea I feel today. Generally in professional world I/We meet all kinds of people from different walks of life, speaking different languages, having different attitude, of different faith and so on but sometimes we fail to see the mask worn by many, a mask of deceived Joy and unassuming ‘I am fine ‘ with life attitude.
Wherever one is whatever one does he/she must not miss the opportunity to be pro-life. As the world becomes more and more sophisticated with chips that can’t be seen and communication that is endless more and more people are looking out for ways to kill loneliness. The more seamlessly integrated our technology becomes so much greater is the amount of loneliness one experiences. This loneliness in life can many times lead an human being to unhealthy life situations developing a negative attitude towards life; But as a disciple of Christ we all are called to a life of positive living and like in the life of the good Samaritan this positive attitude In our life must not be limited to our own mental boundaries but must overflow and influence our brethren sitting next to our workstation in office or in the bench next to us in our class, or a floor above our house.
Just like an unborn deserves all right to live on earth so does every human creation of God living on earth. In the words of St.Dominic “I am not capable of doing big things, but I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God “, even if we can bring a smile on the sad face of our brethren around us I feel we have added more than few drops of love in the might ocean of His/His life. Every small act of love as above takes us in the steps of a pro-lifer and it’s a good beginning indeed.
Well what are you waiting for…Go on be a pro-lifer!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Career with God!

I am writing this article in an age, when to reach higher, we are demanded to prove ourselves and use others as ladders to climb up. We live in an age, where people believe that the difference between a job and a career is the difference between forty and sixty hours of work a week. We live in an age where setting up a career is higher in priority than setting up our lives with integrity, honesty & faith.
In this multi cultural competitive world, we all are fighting our daily battles, a battle to remain strong in the faith that has been given to us as a gift by our Abba father and reclaimed by the sacrifice of Christ, the Son of God Himself and re-activated by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We, many a times ask ourselves, what are the top priorities in our life? Is it our work or studies? Is it our family? Is it our friends? Our career? Our MBA? And what next not?
Many of our priorities might have gone through a rotation policy over a period of time. But a question we can ask ourselves at this moment is - have they brought the joy and happiness we wished for? Can a successful career guarantee us always a happy contented life?
Or as Will Smith said in a popular movie– are we still in the pursuit of happiness? Where are we heading to?
As a young professional, the eternity prospective has always challenged me to ‘think hatke’ when it comes to life, faith & career. As our master rightly reminds us “For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be “.This eternity prospective will help us start storing treasures for ourselves with God. As a child of God, we know that our citizenship is in heaven and in no way should we want to miss our right to vote up there. It’s our eternal fundamental right and for us to vote we have to prepare our self to be enrolled on God’s voter list. The attractions of the world, the money, the pleasure, the career, the fame all are more than tempting enough to pull us from the voter’s registration queue. But who ever stands till the end will be benefited by the sweet result of knowing that he/she did their best and is now eligible to enjoy His/her right and finally pursue, once for all, the true happiness that is only found in Christ.
Our Master said - “Seek first the Kingdom of God and the rest shall be added unto you”. I am convinced that Christ can take control of our career, family and life if we take control over His business. If Christ remains the top priority for us then it becomes easier to share Him through our work & career, studies, daily activities and the smallest of smallest thing in our lives.
The challenges of the world we live in are tough. The struggles we face today are new and something that has not been seen before and bad acts today have become the ‘In-Thing’ for this generation. It is in these tough times that we, the young, are called to be the voice to the nation, to be the change we all want to see in others, to be the glory, hope & springtime of the Church!
We are the Gen Next for Christ. The hope of Glory is in us – so then why wait? Wake up..!!! It’s Son Rise..!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Deeper & Higher - Focusing on migrants

Where are we hosting D&H?

Blast from the Past:
Sep11 2009 - JY as a ‘A growing sense of hope’ –

Sep14 2009 – ‘The response of the movement to the world around’ -

Sep15 2009 - JY ‘a critique of contemporary values’

Sep16 2009 – ‘Challenging ourselves to a deeper, personal relationship with Jesus’

Sep17 2009 – ‘Formation in steadfastness’

Sep18 2009 - ‘A lifestyle of openness and dialogue’

Today let’s reflect on ‘Focusing on migrants’
Along with bases in campuses and universities, parishes and work places, Jesus Youth has also spread into the world in the context of modern facilities for travel and migration. The new generation is moving across the world for studies and career prospects. At the same time many others are forced to flee from their homestead for a variety of other reasons. People of God have a special regard for migrants (Gen 12:1-3, Heb 13:14) as it is a special responsibility and a great opportunity. The movement has already made some provision for attending to sections of migrants and it should renew its efforts to be a presence of joy and welcome to people on the move, such as students, job seekers, new city dwellers and those seeking refuge.- From Letter to Jesus Youth

Personal Thoughts:
Courtesy: Siju Mathew

Thanking almighty God for His wonderful deeds amongst us through the years. From the early years of Christianity and human history lots of marvelous things happened and are happening through migrants. These days we can see that only as beautiful leading of the Holy Spirit people keep migrating irrespective of culture, language or any other reason.
For us Jesus Youths it’s created a perfect platform to live the faith and mold the movement as a missionary in its whole nature. And I'm not intimidated to call migration as a lifeline that carved us as we are today and lot more will follow in years to come. Though there are many struggles every migrant go through time to time, the very personal call each one of us received compels us to be united with the church and continue mission for us in the new place.
In my personal view there are two factors that contribute to our new mission land:

1. The effectiveness of the local leadership if any
2. Our own effectiveness that I can call as the personal commitment as a missionary.
The second one leaves us no room for cocooning ourselves with our reasons whatsoever, but get in to a fellowship with the believers around with out disturbing the harmony that exist there. Or it could be a call to start some thing afresh if the promptings of the Holy Spirit does so. No doubt, inviting a spiritual guide in our new battle field will be a shield. Being in constant interaction with the faithful and the protection of their intercession will definitely keep us strong apart from our constants that are dear to us all along.

Prayer (to be repeated throughout the day):
My Lord Jesus help me grow deeper in your love today, each day

God’s Online.24x7.

Deeper & Higher - A lifestyle of openness and dialogue

14 Days to Go
How the bamooo Grows!
Did u know? - It takes five years for the seed of a bamboo tree to show any growth above ground, and then it grows to a height of 90 feet in six weeks! Five years of preparation, of putting down roots, of spreading underground, so as to have access to plenty of food. And then, only then, does it take off.

This is an extraordinary fact that requires reflection. The time spent with John the Baptist was preparing the people to meet and follow Jesus. It was like a novitiate. We all need such preparation and formation. The journey moves from information, to formation, to transformation. Surely any failure to grow spiritually in our lives is the result of a lack of genuine preparation, of spiritual formation. To live in the warmth of God's love is a sure and certain way to grow.
Blast from the Past:
Sep11 2009 - JY as a ‘A growing sense of hope’ –

Sep14 2009 – ‘The response of the movement to the world around’ -

Sep15 2009 - JY ‘a critique of contemporary values’

Sep16 2009 – ‘Challenging ourselves to a deeper, personal relationship with Jesus’

Sep16 2009 – ‘Formation in steadfastness’

Today let’s reflect on ‘A lifestyle of openness and dialogue’
Jesus Youth movement has always given emphasis to the divine commission to share the Good News of the Kingdom. The growing tendency to withdraw from the world around7 is definitely a great enemy of an active lifestyle of sharing the Gospel. Jesus Youth have an inherent eagerness to welcome and dialogue with everyone they meet. In the midst of the pervading tendency of alienation and suspicion, Jesus Youth should take a special responsibility to seek all opportunities to collaborate with individuals and groups and not be inward looking or sectarian in their living situations – whether it is the Church or the wider society. We must follow the example of our Master who made friends with all kinds of people, even sinners and outcasts. While many express their concern over the ominous growth of violence and corruption, we should be more and more prepared and be open to join hands with other individuals and groups of goodwill and earnest dedication, to build a culture of tolerance and justice, where the seed of the Kingdom can be sown.- From Letter to Jesus Youth

Personal Thoughts:
Courtesy: Mathew Joseph
Sometimes God's ways are bit funny…
The powerful God who created heaven and earth...
The One who made everything perfect...
Why He need our help to share the Gospel to the world?
Why can't He make everyone followers of Jesus?
May be God wants us to take part in His creation work…
He is expecting us to join Him so that we together create the kingdom of God.
Isn't it a great expression of God's love for us?
He is reaching out and collaborating with sinners like you and me!!
That's God's love....

Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38).
He was sensitive to the needs of the people around...
He made friends with all kinds of people, even sinners and outcasts.
Sharing the good news and healing them.

We are called to be the light of this world giving Jesus to the people around us.
Every opportunity to share Jesus requires us to reach out to people.
Understanding their needs and problems.
Sharing the Gospel as a solution to their problems is a challenge.
That is the challenge God wants us to take today…

Prayer (to be repeated throughout the day):
My Lord My God, make me your humble instrument of love.

God’s Online.24x7.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Deeper & Higher - Formation in steadfastness

Why Deeper & Higher?

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (Matthew 7:24-26)
Do you know how a Bamboo Grows?
It takes five years for the seed of a bamboo tree to show any growth above ground, and then it grows to a height of 90 feet in six weeks! Five years of preparation, of putting down roots, of spreading underground, so as to have access to plenty of food. And then, only then, does it take off.
Only when we grow deeper in Lord can we reach higher in our growth and evangelization else stronger winds will bring us down easily in no time. These stronger winds could be manifested in many forms such as hurt feelings, inferiority complex, discouragement, guilty feeling etc and above all our personal Sins …
Going deeper makes us stronger like the bamboo which bends to extreme levels but never breaks. Learning from a bamboo lets grow deeper first in Lord then higher!

Archives (Please don’t miss the earlier reflections):
Sep11 2009 - JY as a ‘A growing sense of hope’ –
Sep14 2009 – ‘The response of the movement to the world around’ –
Sep15 2009 - JY ‘a critique of contemporary values’
Sep16 2009 – ‘Challenging ourselves to a deeper, personal relationship with Jesus’


Today let’s reflect on ‘Formation in steadfastness’

The contemporary culture of instant satisfaction, short attention span and the lack of an eternity perspective are definitely not conducive to ensuring continuity and developing rooted ness in life. Yet the movement believes that a lifestyle of steadiness and commitment is quite significant for fruitfulness (Jn 15:5). As the movement has found active participation in cells to be a very effective means of providing support in one’s spiritual journey, the building up of cells becomes a very important responsibility of the leaders as well as the coordinating teams of Jesus Youth. - From Letter to Jesus Youth

Personal Thoughts:

Where are we heading? Where are we building our home? Where are we buying our land? Where are we investing? Where will you vote... tough questions?

Well as word of God says we all are ‘Citizens of Heaven’ (Phil 3:20), so we are going to vote over there, our say is there, our fuller life is there and so is our government and King!

We are not only called to make this voyage to Heaven but also to take along companions on this journey … Our cells ,companionship & prayer groups are called for such a joyful holy journey together.

I now can imagine saints singing to us:

Come with me to heaven a place of truth and joy…
Are u a prodigal son?
If yes so come with me …
There is a father who is waiting for you … from time eternity……………

Or are you the elder one?
If yes so come with me …
There is a father who is still waiting for you… from time eternity……………

Prayer (Is a communication - to be repeated throughout the day):

If you love someone how long do you want speak on phone or face-2-face? 1 hr, 2 hr…..or 24 hrs? God’s online 24x7 giving you missed calls and trying to reach you…Pick up the call or call him back!

O lord Jesus I am prodigal son/daughter, my soul thirsts for you.

God’s Online.24x7.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Deeper & Higher - personal relationship with Jesus

Today let’s reflect on ‘Challenging ourselves to a deeper, personal relationship with Jesus’
We often say that the most important aspect of our movement is ‘Jesus’ as our name ‘Jesus Youth’ suggests. Yet we must recognize that if we are not vigilant, there is always the danger of our spirituality getting reduced to certain programmes, groups or gestures, which is why we propose an ‘itinerary of holiness’ to help youth walk with Jesus in their everyday lives. The practice of the ‘six pillars’, participation in cells and a steady recourse to spiritual guidance
should support the nurturing of a fresh and dynamic relationship with the Lord. The core concern of the Jesus Youth movement is this ever renewing and ever widening personal walk with Jesus. There is an urgent need to challenge youth to renew and sustain their fidelity to this key element of Jesus Youth spirituality. - From Letter to Jesus Youth

Personal Thoughts:

Courtesy: Jose Thomas(Joji)

For each one of us who call ourselves Jesus Youth, the journey that we are on, started with a personal encounter with Christ. But that was only the beginning, what happened after that is what is most important. The paths that we trod after that, the lives that we touched, the love we shared, all these forms our journey with Christ. There is a very important aspect which determines how far we can go on this journey in this life.
That aspect is, "How much do you know the one who called you?"
Each call of our Lord is a call to step out in faith. Never at the moment of call is it made clear to us what exactly our call is or where it will lead. In our personal encounter with Christ, we were asked to step out in faith and we all did. If we look at people of immense faith like Abraham, Moses or Mother Mary, it’s their knowledge of who is calling them that makes them step out in faith. And its their deep and intimate knowledge of Him, that makes them continue faithfully even in most hopeless circumstances, never doubting a bit about their call or the promises given to them.
For us also to be faithful to our calls, we need to know the one who called us. And just knowing Him would not help to sustain our journey when the storms rage around us and we are not able to see the loving face of our savior. The intimate and true knowledge of our Lord who called us is the only thing that can sustain us through those storms until the morning breaks and brings with it the light of our saviors’ comforting grace. So from this day until the moment we breathe our last breath, and complete the beautiful journey that we started, let us be continuously on a journey of discovery too. A journey of discovery, of the beauty and depth, of the love of our wonderful Lord. Building an everlasting relationship with him. This is what will keep us true to our call until the last breath and beyond, until we come face to face with His majesty.
~ Joji

Prayer (To be repeated throughout the day):
O lord Jesus I desire to know you, to meet you, to be with you… more and more today.

God’s Online.24x7.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Deeper & Higher - JY a critique of contemporary values

Why Deeper & Higher?
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (Matthew 7:24-26)
Do you know how a Bamboo Grows?
It takes five years for the seed of a bamboo tree to show any growth above ground, and then it grows to a height of 90 feet in six weeks! Five years of preparation, of putting down roots, of spreading underground, so as to have access to plenty of food. And then, only then, does it take off.
Only when we grow deeper in Lord can we reach higher in our growth and evangelization else stronger winds will bring us down easily in no time. These stronger winds could be manifested in many forms such as hurt feelings, inferiority complex, discouragement, guilty feeling etc and above all our personal Sins …
Going deeper makes us stronger like the bamboo which bends to extreme levels but never breaks.

Today let’s reflect on JY as ‘a critique of contemporary values’
The complex and powerful winds of progress and change that are sweeping across our communities are deeply affecting our attitudes and lifestyles.Enduring relationships and sustained commitments are being swept aside in the rapid pace of life. While the increase of wealth and material conveniences has made the youth financially more generous, independent and leisurely, the uncontrolled pursuit of money and material comfort has seriously affected the spiritual life of this generation(Lk 12:13-21; Mk 8: 36, 37). Amassing wealth is gradually becoming the key purpose in life for many, and even prayer and spirituality become a means to this end. In fact, this tendency to create, package and market an over-simplified, instantly-gratifying and painless spirituality is growing all around us. We need more young people who not only do not conform but can also challenge the values, motives and aspirations of the people around us. The Jesus Youth movement has a very significant role to play in exposing this mindset and in living a deeper Catholic spirituality - From Letter to Jesus Youth

Personal Thoughts:
Courtesy : Mathew Joseph
During the last 15 years Bangalore has changed a lot. It has grown from a pensioners' paradise to the IT capital of India. Lot of migrants coming to the city every day in search of a good job and good life. Wealth creation is becoming the sole motto for many. Success in life is measured only by the millions you make. The pub culture and the BPO culture is fast catching up.
Why is the creation of wealth not making our life simpler? Everyone is stressed and under lot of problems. Money is not solving their problems. Corruption is fast catching up in the society. Values are fast disappearing from people's mind. Everything seems to be fine as long as you make profits... Family values are fast disappearing. Drugs, alcohol, fashion and casual sex are no more a sin to this generation.
As JYs, are we open to the realities around? How many times did we pray for the social problems of Bangalore? Did we ever try to take an initiative to change this society? Many times, our prayers and prayer groups become totally isolated from the realities of the society we live in.The mall culture is fast influencing even the JYs.Our prayer groups also becomes disconnected from the main stream society and even from our parish youths... How many times we cared to share the gospel to the youth in our parish or in our community around?
Are we sensitive to the needs of the people around us? Do we have any responsibility towards the society we live in? What are we doing to make their lives better? How much do we get involved in resolving the social issues? Are we too busy, we even forget to pray for them? Selfish spirituality is a danger we need to watch out for... Remember, if you want to reach heaven, it is your responsibility to take the whole of Bangaloreans along with you to heaven. When you reach heaven, Jesus is going to ask you - where is your brother? Every Bangalorean irrespective of his caste or creed is your brother and you are responsible for their salvation.

Prayer (To be repeated throughout the day):
O lord Jesus make me amass your love as my wealth.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Deeper & Higher - Response of the movement to the world around

As we prepare ourselves for the JY regional conference named "Deeper and Higher" happening in Christ University on Oct 2,3 & 4 lets reflect on the spiritual theme for the conference for the coming few weeks. The scriptural theme for the conference is “Put out into the deep”, Luke 5:4.
Continuing on our objective to ‘deepen our spiritual life’ on the back drop of this regional conference lets reflect on our next element which will help us’ Put out into the deep’.

Today let’s reflect on ‘the response of the movement to the world around’
Every Christian has a serious responsibility to reflect about and act upon the world around in the light of the Gospel (Lk 12: 55, 56). The mystery of the Incarnation, and Passover, through which God has lovingly united the world and its history to himself, bequeath on every Christian the duty to work together for progress and peace in the world. As Jesus Youth is a missionary movement, we ought to be creative designers of peace by getting involved in the affairs of the world. Our movement, with its focus on youth, has a special duty to challenge young people not to make use of the groups and activities to withdraw into their comfort zones and escape from their duties and responsibilities, but to inspire and guide them to be responsible and loving neighbours(Lk 10:29). This challenge is especially relevant in a fast changing, success-oriented culture where ‘personal achievement’ and ‘personal satisfaction’, both spiritual and material, often form the entire focus of one’s busy schedule. For many, even prayer life and personal spirituality are very much coloured by this holy self-centeredness, often turning spirituality into a set of external exercises and pious activities that do not influence their lives or relationships in a deeper way - From Letter to Jesus Youth

Personal Thoughts:
A question we need to answer now – Am I a Levite who passed by the wounded person, or the priest who was busy with His pious activities which supposedly pleased God or the good Samaritan who truly showed love beyond borders. Yes we all are called to be good Samaritans where ever we are. May be I am walking through the crowded streets of S G Palaya, or working in ITPL, or stuck in the electronic city traffic jam or studying in MCC or any nursing college or teaching or marketing where ever I am, am I called as a JY to be a living 5th Gospel for my fellow brethren.
Why are our faces saddened after lot of prayers? Where is the joy of praying? Aren’t we still a joyful contradiction. I think the time has come for prayerful actions. The time is right for us to come out of our own 4 cornered comfort rooms and step out into the world as living message of love of Christ.
There is a great famine for love in Bangalore. May our prayers result in love and our love in fruitful actions. I believe we all are called to be a pro-lifer, an intercessor, a lover wherever we are and this is not limited to just our prayer warriors from intercession team or pro-life ministry members. Every JY is called by Lord to this kind of joyful life which contradicts the saddened cynical masked life of the world. Ask any one outside – How are you and the answer is audio taped – I am fine? Are they really? Or are we robots who are taught to say that all is fine with us (a mask).
Are we ready to unmask, unlearn the wrong and wear the mask of Jesus Love & Joy and show the same to others? When God closes one door he opens many so let’s find the many open doors in our life to go out to the world with Christ’s good news.

Prayer (To be repeated throughout the day):
O lord Jesus make me pro-life.
O Mother Mary pray that I become an intercessor just like you.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Deeper & Higher - JY a growing sense of hope

As we prepare ourselves for the JY regional conference named "Deeper and Higher" happening in Christ University on Oct 2,3 & 4 lets reflect on the spiritual theme for the conference for the coming few weeks.

The scriptural theme for the conference is “Put out into the deep”, Luke 5:4. I would like to go back to the Letter to Jesus Youth dated 23rd March 2008 prepared by the JY international team which highlights the various aspects of putting out into the deep.
At the heart of the Jesus Youth movement is its special call to offer a relevant spiritual response to the fast paced, constantly changing, multi-ethnic world of today. Such a response can proceed only from deep reflection and a clear discernment of the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Thus the focus of ‘Deeper and higher’ remains mainly on two aspects - “Deepening of our spiritual lives” and “Strengthening of our Mission”.

Today lets reflect on JY as a ‘A growing sense of hope’.

The youth that are involved in the Jesus Youth movement and those who come into contact with them tell the story of a fresh discovery of hope. Through the movement ordinary youth from diverse backgrounds receive a life changing experience of Jesus and are transformed into active Christians with a sense of mission in life. It is heartening to note that Church hierarchy and leaders of society often express a growing sense of hope and expectation about what the movement can offer to the Church and society. This expression of support and encouragement, especially from the Church hierarchy, while a source of much consolation, is also an awesome responsibility, calling us to be faithful to the guidance of the Church and to fulfil our duties as active players in the growth of the society around(Lk 12:48) – From Letter to Jesus Youth .

Personal Thoughts:
Many times in my life I have felt that things I do is just because someone expects me to do this or a great responsibility lies on me to complete the action.Jesus and His Church have laid a great responsibility on us and not only has He given us this responsibility but also has equipped us with power of the Holy Spirit from above to carry it out.
The greatest challenge you and me face on a personal front day in day out is the responsibility of being holy & faithful to our master in this seductive world. The world is calling from newspaper, internet, peers, and media to a life of pleasure and fun compromising without any hesitation the good handed over to us by Jesus our Lord. The battles are more personal I feel than social. For me personal spiritual battles are fiercer than community one’s. Let’s pray for personal holiness.
Today let’s reflect on these thoughts and make a prayer of Holiness.

Prayer (To be repeated throughout the day):
O lord Jesus through the power of your precious blood make me Holy and pure like you!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Musings of a missionary doctor in the land of Nagas - Part II

psalm 119:117
May Jesus hold us up that we may be safe and have regard for His statutes continually.

Little snippets from the mission diary :) just to keep my promise in the first mail,that i'd continue..

We wanted to get an early start ,so we packed 6 boiled eggs and few bananas for breakfast... the previous night we had called our man at the village to give information of our arrival, but the ever-failing mobile phone range ,failed us yet again!;)The walk to Waphr was 16 km one way. Our Sr. Sismy was with us, she too had walked... this kind of humility , really impressed the baptist pastor,he said that their clergy always travel by vehicle.He offered to transport us back when we were finished with our program,but of course-we chose to walk :) Due to lack of forewarning, the women had mostly all left for their fields. We still gave health education to the 8 or 9 women folk who had stayed behind in the village due to breastfeeding babies and other little ones. We had our packed breakfast with the tea they provided. After the class, the house which had hosted us , provided us with lunch. Our cook that day was a 19 year old girl with a 5 month old baby... I remember them clearly , because while i playfully used my steth on the baby, to my utter amazement , i heard a heart sound that indicated a hole in the heart!!! In college , our profs used to try and teach us this... so taking this lead i asked this girl if her baby used to get distressed while breast feeding, and frequent chest infections.. she confirmed the text book symptoms... so there, in that village, i made my first diagnosis of a probable VSD in a baby. :) I advised her of the baby's need for good medical care.3 days later , I met that girl in the PHC in town.( Of course this PHC is quite primitive in its facilities, but its a start! This mommy must travel 3 more hours before they can reach higher centers , that are not fantastic, but may have a pediatrician. ...)
Going downhill ,we just need to be alert not to slip, but climbing up is quite 'the' endurance test! We stop to catch our breath only when the chest threatens to burst :) After climbing a steep hill, exhausted ,we girls stretched out on the grass while the boys ran into a house on that hilltop to fill our bottle with water.Though our throats were dry, humor never dried out, laughing and singing ,our spirits were always enjoying a high :)Praise God!

These long walks to villages through picturesque hillsides, fields and valleys, invariably welded us together.We discovered the unique beauties hidden in each of our friends, as we shared a song here, a carrybag there, and short stops to eat bananas and rest.We found out how the sister with us loved to collect ferns and pine cones for dry flower decorations for the chapel... we reached home from Waphr that evening ,with practically a 'bag-ful' of the forest!
Jesus is very clever at preparing soul-stirring surprises... I felt this facet of His love through little children. An eight year old boy and later a 4 year old girl, on different occasions.. . they would unexceptionably take a fancy to me [as if on a cue from Him ;) ]come to me and make me play with them ,gift me a plum or a flower... they barely knew me, yet they trusted themselves to me, completely! Only God knows how much they comforted me unknowingly with their innocence and freely gifted love!

One evening ,on a day when i had experienced some sadness, Father took us for a babas' (father's) meeting in PWD colony. He had asked uncle Philip (our older JY member) to give the gathering a talk.As we reached the house , the above mentioned 4 year old girl, Limreila, met me for the first time.She examined my rosary, my stethoscope, and opened my umbrella, then replaced everything in my bag ,before climbing into my lap and playing with me. She let me carry her to the neighbors' house, and later nestled next to me and pretended to read a hymnal throughout the talk.By the end of the talk, she took the stick of the agarbathi that had burnt out and pretended to pierce my hand with it.I had been quietly enjoying her childish antics and friendship, it really made me forget my sadness. By then I had given her many little kisses... so as she played her game of 'nailing' my hand , i thought to myself... 'Man, this is just like us. Jesus loves us and pets us so much and after enjoying His love so long, we just playfully, hammer nails into His hands! stupid us!'.As we were leaving , Limreila made me pick her up.She had decided to come back with us to Father's house.But of course we couldn't take her along ...

"ah, she is quite a philosopher isn't she? lets pat her on the back..." from you guys is not quite the aim of this narration!;) ... what followed is what amazed me... devout catholic though i am , due to my aversion to calenders and remembrances (which, unfortunately, is so vital to social living), it totally came as a surprise when Father told us that the day's mass would be in honor of the Sacred Heart ,whose feast it was on that day. The first reading was Hosea 11:1 onwards... "when Israel was a child , I loved him....Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them...I was to them like those who LIFT INFANTS TO THEIR CHEEKS.I bent down to them and fed them." I remembered Limreila :) The gospel was about the crucifixion. .. John 19:34" instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and at once blood and water came out."

So like that the Holy Spirit had preached the word to me before the mass itself! It was mission experience par excellence ,to me :)"O taste and see, that the Lord is good!For He tastes like honey in the rock...He is my everything,He is my la la"

The clergy and religious of the diocese of Nagaland are a living witness to the fire of love that Christians everywhere are called to share. 12-hour journeys through bumpy , hair-pin-curve roads would be interspersed every 3 hours with the hospitality of priests and nuns of the parishes along the way.Their love for Fr. Francis (our priest) would make them open their hearts,houses and convents to us generously. Father only had to give them a heads-up , and there would be ready for us breakfast, lunch,tea or dinner!:) In Kohima, we were given a guided tour of the cathedral (which is the largest in Asia) by Fr.Benny, the Bishop's secretary. It was something memorable, to hold in my hand, the big toe of the 18 feet tall Jesus on the central crucifix, carved out of a single piece of wood (except for the arms) hanging on the wall,behind the altar.

Thank you Jesus , and all of you who as Jesus Youth made this mission possible.
God bless you all.
Please remember me in your sms's to heaven ;) my md entrance exam preparations and the exams themselves.. cos God hears the prayers of His saints :)
In Jesus and Mama Mary

Musings of a missionary doctor in the land of Nagas - Part I

One day in your courts O Lord, is better than thousands elsewhere... . one day as Your missionary where You send us,O Lord ,is better than thousand days in the comfort of familiar home ground.

I'm not a nun, a theologian nor a counselor, just a 24 year old , fresh out of medical college... yet young and old wanted to hear what this young lady , a doctor from so far away had to say to them...going to a mission area along with "professionals to mission" has given me the opportunity very few young doctors perhaps saviour! the opportunity to touch a lot of hurting poor people.

At the end of 10th std , i had told Jesus that the best chance for me to be a missionary of His was to be a doctor. He made me a doctor. But 7 years is a long time and i had long forgotten that teenage promise... though of course to serve Jesus wherever He might place me was my motive, a radical missionary life seemed too outlandish!

But praise the Lord! He had taken my promise quite seriously... A doctor friend of mine , spoke to me the words Jesus wanted me to hear... inspiring me to dare to give to Jesus the first fruits of my service as a doctor by serving the really poor in the mission lands.

The ostrich hides her head in the sand and thinks no one can see her. Christian Mbbs doctors hide themselves behind their books and think the Lord cant ask any mission work of them. If i became a doctor just to make money or to be a social worker then joining the rat race for a post graduate seat would be appreciable. But since He chose me to be His witness, a doctor for Him, my decision 2 bury my gold coins in the mud with the laudable excuse of preparing for pg just like my friends would be saying no to Him... so I thank Jesus for this opportunity

One month in nagaland taught me many things... one incident flashing like neon lights in my memories of nagaland that will both humble and exalt me throughout my life is what took place in a lil room filled with many daughters and sons of an old couple. The woman bed ridden with excruciating back pain following a fall. the first visit there i wrote a prescription for iv fortwin phenergan.the son promised to get it even if he had to travel 3 evening we went there so i could give the injection.however, the army medical assistant had already supplied the medicine and administered it.So after encouraging them to visit a higher centre for treatment of a possible fracture, my 3 friends n i were politely saying gbye when the old lady held my hand and motioned for me to pray over her. i had been always shying away from that, especially since a priest or nun with me would do it. this time we were only lay people and it was a baptist family. But i prayed that night.and then on whenever possible ended every consultation with prayer.

Really , Jesus is our loving elder brother.He uses us to do through us the good that He wishes to do for others .Because He loves to see our souls aglow with joy after each good deed He enables us to do.He is bowled over by even a tiny smile on our lips!He is captivated by us despite our weaknesses!!

Throughout my mission experience. He was there creating venues for me to be of service.
He put a zealous missionary priest in charge of me and the nun with me.Thanks to this happy blessing , we were welcomed in almost every house as Father escorted us around.When Father was out of station for a week, the catechists who love him and share his vision and passion took us to 3 villages,(viz Waphr, Liangkonger and Shamatoor village) arranging health education seminars wherever possible.

My days were filled with chances to proclaim to the people :"your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit." and to preach prolife sentiments . medical check ups after the seminar , dispensing the medicines Father had stockpiled for me , and medical check up in the school,patients coming to consult at home, ..

Telling stories to the catechism kids, teaching them action songs and explaining to them the blessings of the rosary , smudged the faint line differentiating the doctor from the missionary :) One day i was given an awesome invitation by the Father to lead the adoration for a few of us.For this blessing i give full credit to Mama Mary with whom i had prayed 3 rosaries that day... which is usually an impossibility for me!

In jakama ,st. Joseph's college, we explained Jesus Youth to the 150 hostellites. .. by a one n half hour program.i was unanimously made mc, by my loving english-shy brothers! later they rejoiced when i went to the pulpit to deliver a half an hour extempore on JY and its 6 pillars in the parish of Vishvema.

through it all, we experienced the hospitality of the catholic church in nagaland.there is more to share.. i 'll continue tomorrow dear brothers and sisters. Gnight!
your loving sister
in Jesus and Mama Mary

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reflection on Child like love for my Lord.

I was enjoying a morning of rough and tumble with my two younger ones on the bed in the morning. It was a holiday and the luxury of lazing around and wrestling around with my younger two was all mine. I was enjoying the innocent love of the two little hearts which loved and trusted me with out conditions. These moments made me reflect on my love for our Lord.

During the initial days of the love for my Lord, my love was as innocent and beautiful as kunjunnis and kunju babychans love for me. It didn’t have a format, it didn't have words, it didn't have any frills and thrills. It was simple love. When I felt like loving my Lord, I would tell him Lord I don’t know how to pray properly, I don’t know how to meditate upon your love. I don’t have enough of my own love stored up to give you, so let me enjoy your ,love and show my love for you in me own childish ways. Then I could snuggle up into his loving arms as kunjunni did, and enjoy His love enfolded in his loving arms. I could snuggle up into the crook of his arm and stay there enjoying his presence and His love. I could enjoy the silkiness of his beard, hold his loving face in my arms and look deeply into those loving eyes. I could put my head on is chest and hear the murmur of his heart telling me of his infinite love. But I could not understand a word of it as I still did not know enough about his love. But those heart beats still told me how much he loved me. It could fill peace and joy with in my heart. Those murmurs could be the love song that could give me happy and contented sleep. I could feel the loving wound just below his pierced heart. Although it was a hard scar rough to touch, they spoke of his love for me. When his hand passed through my hair, I again could feel the scars on his hands, but they didn't feel rough to me. The scars told me about a love that sacrificed a godly existence for me. They told me about a resolute march through his life towards the cross for His love of me. They told the story of a God who loved his people to sacrifice His only son for them. They still talked to me of a God who waits me on the altar in the form of humble bread and wine so that he could be one with me on this earth They told me of an impatient God who would rather be sacrificed on the altar here on earth every day and be consumed by an unworthy me so that he could be with me now rather than waiting for me in heaven.

Now I know the formulas of prayers. I can say very pious prayers. I can sing and praise him and may be lead worship times. I can give discourses on his infinite love. But how I wish I had that innocence of my first love. How I wish I could have the intensity of that first love. I could give all my piousness, the beauty of my prayer and every thing to have the preciousness of that first love. I am in search of that wonderful love deep within me. And I am sure there is a lord impatiently waiting for me to reciprocate that love. My only consolation is that he is the Lord of love and he is an impatient Lord in matters of love. So my heart is searching for him knowing that he alone can give me back that love …

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bring Him to ME! Bible Reflection from Fr.Tom

Mt 17.17: “Bring him [the boy] to me”. This was Jesus. The disciples of Jesus had tried their best to get the boy healed before Jesus came after his tryst with God, His Father at Jesus’ transfiguration event. But nothing came of it. So Jesus somewhat disappointed asked them to bring the boy to him.

I hear him say this to me and to all who are working with young people. When we are powerless to do for a boy or girl to heal them of any weakness, Jesus tells me: Bring him/her to ME! How often we like to do things on our own but some cases need lots more of faith.

This story is much more elaborate in Mark 9.14-29 with many more interesting details. For instance, when the apostles ask Jesus why they could not cast out the demon in the boy, Jesus replies “This kind [of devil] can only come out through prayer.” Mk 17,29. So to handle the possession of some of our young people can be healed only through faith and prayer. In this context recall what Jesus said in the Gospel of John 15.5: without me you can do nothing! Faith and prayer imply that we rely more on Jesus than on our own expertise or skills alone. Sure we need expertise and skills but they avail nothing unless we have faith and prayer.

As I reflect on this simple statement of Jesus, I see this invitation to parents, teachers in schools and colleges, formation centers, parishes, hostels, youth centres with teenage boys and girls, who are not easy to handle. Bring him/ her to ME. Bring her to me in prayer. Sit with him/her to listen to them to help them discern their problem area and after having done all we can for them we bring them to the Master for his touch.

I also feel that often when we fail to help our young people, we tend to blame them and their environment and companions and all sorts of imagined causes for their behavior seldom thinking that we might be part of the problem rather than the solution. This is when we take them to Jesus. This means also that we go along with them for we might need fixing more than the one we take to Jesus. It is very unflattering to realize that we need fixing too. In the Marcan narrative, the father of the boy realized that his faith was weak, so he prayed: “I do believe, help my unbelief” Mk 9.24. In our everyday language, we could paraphrase: I have some faith but it is so weak, so small, so ineffective. Please help me to grow in faith. Jesus says: come to me and I will help you increase your faith at least to the size of the mustard seed. Bring him/her to me. Come yourself to me. Bring me yourself, your weak faith and I can help to increase it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It is so painful...

Pain is a "pain". It offers only suffering. it is so painful...

Just the other day, the doctor brother of mine told me about a child who does not feel pain. It is a medical condition that is extremely dangerous to the child. This child has his lips almost eaten up by himself and hands and legs bruised and scars all over, some still horribly unhealed. Since he does not feel pain he ends up de-fleshing himself. A horrendous plight this boy must go though.

Pain is one of the greatest defense mechanism of the body. We take care of the body because there is pain. Pain is a gift.

If the pain, as a result of an injury or an ailment is a gift, the pain as a result of a mental condition should also therefor be a gift. It alerts us of the certain injustice done to us, that we need care and attention. Above all it alerts us that we need to connect back to God who gives us the right perspective to deal the pain and over come it.

Saints often thanked God for suffering and asked for more. They saw pain in the light of "the Light" They suffered pain for the sake of fellow beings. They thankful welcomed it for it's sheer redemptive power, sharing in the suffering of the Lamb that was sacrificed before us.

I thank God for pain...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lent Special - Seven Deadly sins - No.3


Evagrius of Pontus, a Christian monk and ascetic whose ideas may have inspired St John Cassian's list of eight sins, gives us a very poetic, but comprehensive definition of the sin of gluttony: "Gluttony is the mother of lust, the nourishment of evil thoughts, laziness in fasting, obstacle to asceticism, terror to moral purpose, the imagining of food, sketcher of seasonings, unrestrained colt, unbridled frenzy, receptacle of disease, envy of health, obstruction of the (bodily) passages, groaning of the bowels, the extreme of outrages, pollution of the intellect, weakness of the body, difficult sleep, and gloomy death."

Proverbs 23:20-21 warns us not to "join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." Proverbs 28:7 declares that "he who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father." Proverbs 23:2 advises us to "put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony" and though that might seem a little too extreme, it is definitely indicative of how severely God views the sin of gluttony.

Why is gluttony a sin, though? Because gluttony is more than simply overeating. It is abusing God's gifts. Food, which is one gift, is necessary for good health, but when we overeat we abuse it and harm our bodies, which is another gift. Secondarily, gluttony leads to other sins like sloth. Daniel (of the den of lions fame) understood that.

King Nebuchadnezzar had once sent his army into Jerusalem. After securing a tremendous victory, they returned to Babylon with a bunch of prisoners in tow, among whom was Daniel. Soon after, Nebuchadnezzar instructed his ministers to select handsome, healthy and intelligent young men from among the captives and bring them to the palace in order to teach them Babylonian culture and traditions, so that they could be of use in his service. Daniel was one of those who were chosen.

Right off, Daniel faced a problem. Nebuchadnezzar had dictated that the new trainees were to be served the same food and wine that was served on the royal table. While this would have flattered most young men, Daniel was aghast. He was a vegetarian who drank only water and he resolved to consume nothing the king was offering. Why? Not merely because the food would probably have been offered to idols (a good enough reason for him to refuse), but because the richness of the food would have led to laziness, which in turn would have ended his powerful prayer life. Ever try praying on a full stomach? (Or anything else for that matter?)

A God Sized Hole

All of us are born with a big gaping hope within us. It's a hole that God himself placed so that we would search for Him and find Him. Some of us don't realize this, however, and try to fill the emptiness with food, alcohol, sex, tobacco, anti-depressants, and other things of the world. This hole, however, is a God-sized hole, and the only thing that can fill a God-sized hole is God Himself, which means that anything else that we do simply won't compensate. The belly may be stuffed, but the heart is hollow.

What's Eating You?

How empty are your hearts? Your eating habits may reveal a lot. What do you do when you are seated at the dining table? Do you pile your plate with food, then without a glance to see if everybody else has served themselves, begin attacking your food and don't say a word until you have finished eating? Do you take second and third servings?

Do you eat at the wrong time or when you aren't hungry? Are you fussy about the food that is laid on the table? Does everything have to be made just the way you like it? Does rice, for instance, have to be the best of Basmati with each grain unbroken and separate from the next? Do you insist on having the best of everything?

Do you snack constantly? When you are at a friend's house and the snack tray goes around, do you pick something from it each and every time it passes you by? Do you try to ensure it ends up close to you?

Do you tell yourself that it is okay to overindulge sometimes? For instance at a wedding party where a huge buffet is laid out with an array of mouth watering delicacies, each one more tempting than the next, do you let yourself go? Or when you are at restaurant that has a special "All you can eat" offer: do you believe it is okay—nay, necessary—to eat three times what you normally would simply because you want to make the most of a good deal? Do you ever give thought that there may be consequences to your health because of what you do?

We probably don't read too much into some of these things, but they are all indicative of gluttony, which in turn may reveal the emptiness within you. There is a saying that the way through a man's heart is through his stomach, which may very well be true, but not only for a woman to exploit; Satan takes advantage of this too. He used food to tempt Adam and Eve! "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate" (Genesis 3:6).

He tried to use food to tempt Jesus too. After His baptism in the River Jordan, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert where He fasted. After fasting for forty days He was obviously hungry and Satan, who is ever ready to exploit a situation to his advantage, was right there next to Him: "If you are the Son of God," he tempted Jesus, "tell these stones to become bread." Jesus knew better than to fall for his tricks. He answered, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (cf Matthew 4:34). He was saying that it isn't only food that fills us, but God's word too. Do we fill ourselves with it?

It is not only reading it and memorizing what God says that fills us, however, but doing what God tells us to do as well. After speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, His apostles returned with food and offered Him some, but He said He had already eaten. Confused, they wondered who might have brought him food. Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work" (John 4:34).

The Virtue: Temperance

The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess, helping us to control and moderate our appetites, be it for food, drink or anything else. Intemperance brings about an arrest of emotional development. Have you ever taken a little child into a toy shop? S/he will drive you crazy by his/her demands believing s/he needs everything s/he sees! Jesus tells us to be like children, but not like spoiled little children. There is nothing appealing about a spoiled child. That's what we become like when we are intemperate, demanding our desires be fulfilled. When we are slaves of our desires, we cannot exercise our free will, which leads to an inability to cultivate other virtues. Temperance, however, allows us to become the people God created us to be, spiritually and morally beautiful.

How do we control gluttony? Fasting and mortification usually helps, and both these can be done without damaging one's health. On the contrary, going on a diet that comprises only fruit juice for a week (or longer) can actually be beneficial to health, as also giving up meats, sweets and other things that we might be very fond of and think we can't live without.

What really helps, however, is addressing the basic root of the problem which is the emptiness of the heart that only God can fill. He has something beautiful to fill it with - the Holy Spirit. We have already met the Samaritan woman in the well (see Lust). She was emotionally empty, and tried to fill herself with the love of men, but she went through five husbands without getting what she craved for. She was hoping number six would do the trick, but as Jesus told her: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14).

In other words, we can do whatever we want to fill the emptiness in our lives, but the only thing that truly can is God.

The Gift: Fortitude

There is a very powerful passage in Paul's letter to the Corinthians where he speaks about "beating" his body, a euphemism for getting his body under his control. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV).

Many of us are slaves to our body. The instant we feel hungry, we look for something to put into our bellies. The moment we feel a little warm under the collar, we turn the air conditioner on. The minute we feel thirsty, we're reaching for the soda can. We need to make our body our slaves, bringing it into subjugation to us. The gift of fortitude helps us in this task.

To quote Pope John Paul II again, he writes that "when, like Jesus in Gethsemane, we experience "the weakness of the flesh", or rather, of human nature subject to physical and psychological infirmities, we should ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of Fortitude to remain firm and decisive on the path of goodness. Then we will be able to repeat with St Paul: "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (1 Corinthians 12:10).

May the Spirit be with you.