Monday, March 22, 2010

Burning for others

Burning for others - Thirst for Souls

This year the weather has been unusually hot and dry, at least in Kerala. It seems to stay so for long periods of time. In the heat of the day we all feel extremely thirsty and long for a drink. And thirst is always related to water.

Lent is a period often associated with desert, heat, dryness, barrenness, etc. This is typically the situation of a soul that is away from the ‘living waters’. It feels the aridity. But sometimes it can be otherwise also. Even if a soul is actively and positively open to the Spirit, it may lack the lively experience. Then too the soul is thirsty. This is the thirst expressed by the psalmist when he says, “my soul thirsts for the Lord”. Many of the saints like St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross have also experienced the same thirst.

Our theme for reflection this week is Jn.19:28 – Jesus’ thirst. Obviously this thirst was severely misunderstood by those standing around Him. Taking it for the ordinary human thirst, they brought Him sour wine or vinegar which He did not accept, because His thirst was not for water but for souls – human souls!! This is substantiated by another passage from John’s gospel itself: Jn.4:1-38 (Jesus and the Samaritan woman). This is also a passage that has been misunderstood. Jesus came to the city of Sychar near the well of Jacob. V.4b says that Jesus was tired from His journey and sat down by the well, and it was about noon. Subsequently Jesus asks the Samaritan women for a drink, proving that He was thirsty. Meanwhile His disciples went to get food and drink.

But as the conversation advances we realise that Jesus was not thirsty for water from the well. Then when His disciples return and asks Him to eat and drink He tells them the same thing, He has food that they do not know about. That, definitely, is the soul of people. So Jesus’ thirst was always for the souls of people.

In a way this thirst is shared from the Father, who first thirsted for sinful people. After the fall of humanity, it was the intense thirst of the Father that caused His only son to become a man. In that way, we can also understand incarnation as an expression of the thirst of God. Jesus shared this thirst of the Father without loosing its intensity and carried it on till His passion.

Down the road, the apostles too shared this thirst of the Master. There is no other justification for them to travel to unknown lands, to unknown people, for them shedding their blood, letting their lives be sacrificed; than for this same passion and thirst for souls. Across the centuries till today, we encounter scores of holy men and women who steadily share the same thirst and are willing to readily lay down their lives to quench this thirst. St. Francis Xavier used to say, “give me souls and take away all the rest”. St. John Mary Vianney spent 18-20 hours a day in the confessional to quench this thirst of the Master by bringing souls back to Him. Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to write these words, near the crucifix in the chapels of all her convents, “I Thirst” to remind her and her nuns the same thirst of the Master. She thirsted with her Master throughout her life for the last, the lost and the least. Countless martyrs, innumerable missionaries, myriads of ordinary disciples have shared this thirst of the Master.

Now it is for us as Jesus Youth to share in depth this thirst of our Lord and Master. Being at the service of the Church is nothing other than sharing this thirst of Christ whose body is the Church. But how? Recently we learned about the atrocities committed against our missionary brothers and sisters in many parts of the North of India. Asked about if they wanted to go back to their mission regions again, every single one of them responded with an emphatic ‘yes’. Is this not the thirst for souls?

All of us may not have opportunities to go for mission or to do a heroic act. But every one of us can have a burning desire for the salvation of souls. This can primarily lead us to pray intensely for souls; souls of our own dear and near ones. If we know someone, for some reason, is far from the Lord, is our heart burning to bring him/her back to the Lord? If we know that one of our friends is walking through a dangerous path, how burningly do we want to save him/her? In this season of Lent, how much positively have we encouraged our peers to ‘turn away from evil and do good’? The list of questions can go on and on. But as we have come to know what it means to burn for others, let us now act. May God give us the courage to keep on burning and not burn out!! Amen

Let us Pray: O Jesus, who thirsted for my soul, help me to thirst for the souls of others. Lord, give me the courage to do the right thing to quench Your thirst. Keep the thirst growing in me. Help me to share this thirst with others and to one day see that all Your thirst is quenched. Amen

To do:

•Talk to at least two people about the need of the sacrament of reconciliation.
•Meditate before the Blessed Sacrament for a few minutes about the times you have missed to share the thirst of the Lord.
•Try to talk to a missionary/a fulltimer about the experience of mission.
•Read more about the option for the poor.

Rev. Fr. Thomas Tharayil
Kottayam, India

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The story of Josephine Maria Rose, the start of a prolife journey

As told to me by the Prolifers of Bangalore Jesus Youth -

This is the story of Josephine Maria Rose and Angel that touched the lives of prolifers of Bangalore and the story of how a journey of miracles, miracles of life started in the Prolife Ministry of Bangalore.

It all started on 23 November 2007, Friday evening, with a call from a Nursing Student studying at a Nursing home in a village about 60 km from Bangalore. In this nursing home there was a premature female child, born at 22.5 weeks and weighing 560g. The mother of the child did not want the child and the hospital didn’t know what to do with the child.

The little baby needed extra care for survival and the parents were not willing to bear any more burden. The prolife team called up the doctors at the Nursing Home and they were happy to give the permission to take the child, provided we were ready to give an undertaking, assuming full responsibility of the child. They also wanted a consent letter from the parents that they do not want to take any further responsibility, we agreed.

Four of us prolifers, including a husband and wife, left Bangalore by taxi and reached the nursing home at 12 midnight. The child was placed on the bed near the mother, and she was not even looking at her. The child was alive and occasionally crying out. The parents of the child already had two children and they did not want a third girl child. It was probably a failed abortion. The parents were only too willing to give a letter in writing given the baby’s responsibility to us.

After completing the formalities, we took the little child. The lady among us received the precious child, covered her with the only warm cloth that we had and set off for Bangalore in the taxi itself. Early morning on Saturday at 4 A.M we reached St. Johns Hospital, Bangalore.

Everyone whom we had met while going to collect the baby was of the opinion that there is very little chance of her survival. The doctors at St. Johns also were of the same opinion. The only chance was for her to be put on the ventilator. We agreed to bear the expenses and they immediately moved the child to Neonatal ICU. The chances of her survival were slim, but we felt that her life was too precious to let go so easily. She was on ventilator for two days and we prolifers kept vigil outside the NICU. All we could do was to pray. On Sunday (25th November 2007) night 11.40 pm, she had a cardiac arrest and our little angel went back into the arms of her loving heavenly Father.

She was taken to the cemetery and provided a Christian burial. There were 6 of us by her grave side to say our final byes. Some of us had called her Maria, some others among us named her Josephine. The Sisters who gave her baptism named her Rose. She was the first life that the Lord had placed into our care. She is like our firstborn. We were all deeply sad in our hearts, but we know that we have given our best for this little one of our God whom no one else wanted. And we know that she is in the lap of Jesus and that she knows each one of us by name. We also know that we can raise to her our needs and she will speak on our behalf to Jesus and today she is a powerful intercessor for our ministry. We consider her as our patron saint. We call her Josephine Maria Rose. And that is the point from where the Prolife Ministry of Bangalore blossomed. Certainly our little angel was hard at work in heaven.

The life support systems etc in the hospital were expensive and if someone were to ask us what would you do if there were many other children who asked our support, we do not know the answer. We just did what we felt was right in the eyes of God and we know that what we have done for this little baby, we have done for Christ. We pray that as you read this, you will make a resolution to stand up in defense of every life that is in danger of being snuffed out, in all circumstances.

Website of Bangalore JY Prolife Ministry :

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tracing the footsteps of Christ in Bangalore JY Prolife Misnistry

Dear all,
I have been a mute witness to the amazing ways in which our Lord Jesus has worked through the JY Bangalore Prolife ministry. Only thing I have known about the JY Prolife ministry is that they are a faithful and committed group. They were never a group of extra ordinary, visible, magnetic group of people. But on the other hand a group of prayerful, consistent, people with zeal for the call Lord had given them and who did their bit faithfully. And I have heard from them the wonderful miracles that our lord worked through them. Till now our lord has given the group 16/17 adopted children. Little lives that Christ the savior protected from the hands that were poised to snuff them out. Also the numerous lives that Christ touched through them, changed for ever from being destroyers of lives to protectors of lives.

Here we start a new series, where we chronicle the miraculous ways of our Lord. Be a bit patient with us as we string them together slowly. God bless you.

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