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.