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August 30th, 2014

The Parable of The Twins

The Parable of The Twins

Once upon a time, twin boys were conceived in the same womb. Weeks passed, and the twins developed. As their awareness grew, they laughed for joy, “Isn’t it great that we were conceived? Isn’t it great to be alive?”

Together the twins explored their world. When they found their mother’s cord that gave them life they sang for joy, “How great is our mother’s love that she shares her own life with us.”

As the weeks stretched into months the twins noticed how much each was changing. “What does this mean?”, asked the one. “It means that our stay in this world is drawing to an end”, said the other one.

“But I don’t want to go”, said the one, “I want to stay here always”. “We have no choice”, said the other, “but maybe there is life after birth!”

“But how can it be?” responded the one. “We will shed our life cord, and how is life possible without it? Besides, we have seen evidence that others were here before us and none of them have returned to tell us that there is life after birth.”

And so the one fell into deep despair saying, “If conception ends with birth, what is the purpose of life in the womb? It’s meaningless! Maybe there is no mother at all.”

“But there has to be”, protested the other. “How else did we get here? How do we remain alive?”

“Have you ever seen our mother?”, said the one. “Maybe she lives in our minds. Maybe we made her up because the idea made us feel good.”

And so the last days in the womb were filled with deep questioning and fear and finally the moment of birth arrived. When the twins had passed from their world, they opened their eyes and cried, for what they saw exceeded their fondest dreams.

‘Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on people what God has prepared for those who love Him.’


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August 29th, 2014

Life After Birth And Life After Death

Life After Birth And Life After Death

Listen to this conversation between twins inside the womb of their mother.

Baby 1: And you, you believe in life after birth?

Baby 2: Absolutely. It’s obvious that life after birth exist. We are here to become stronger and to get ready for Whatever awaits us next.

Baby 1: This is absurd. There is nothing after birth! What would life look like outside the womb?

Baby 2: Well, there are many stories about the other side. I’ve heard there is a blaze of light there, an intense and profound feeling of joy with deep emotions, thousands of things to live for… For example, I’ve heard that we’ll eat with our mouth, there.

Baby 1: That’s silly. We have an umbilical cord and that is how we eat. Everyone knows that we don’t use our mouth to eat! And, on the top of it, no one has ever come back from the other world… Those stories are all coming from naive people. Life just ends at birth. Period. That’s the way it is and we must accept it.

Baby 2: Alright, then allow me to think differently. That’s for sure, I have no idea what life after birth looks like, and I can’t prove anything to you. But I like to believe, that in the next world, we’ll be able to see our mother and that she will take care of us.

Baby 1: “Mother”? You mean that you believe in ‘Mother’? Oh! So where is she?

Baby 2: Everywhere, don’t you see it! She is everywhere, all around us. We are part of her and it’s thanks to her that we are living right now. Without her, we wouldn’t be here.

Baby 1: This is ridiculous! I’ve never seen any mother so it’s obvious that she doesn’t exist.

Baby 2: I don’t agree, that’s your way of seeing things. Because sometimes when everything quiets down a little bit, we can hear her sing. We can feel her hugging our world. I’m pretty sure that our life will start after birth.

‬Now please read the same conversation a second time, by interchanging the following words:

BIRTH  to  DEATH
WOMB  to  WORLD
MOTHER  to  GOD

Then you will find a mystery unveiling…


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December 18th, 2012

The Healing Power of Confession

The healing power of confession

I was surprised to see this couple, the leaders of a large prayer group in the Archdiocese of Bombay, who had been knocking at my door early that morning at the retreat house in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. On my blank refusal to leave my 200 retreatants and accompany them to the hospital, they began to plead their case.

Their son Joseph was sick and had been undergoing medical treatment at home. But after two weeks of medication he was not getting any better. Their family doctor finally acknowledged that he could do nothing more. He was not even able to diagnose the precise nature of his sickness, which baffled him. He recommended him to be admitted to this renowned hospital, where he would be under the care of the topmost specialists of the city. But here too, after he had gone through every diagnostic testing and been administered all kinds of medicine for a further two weeks, those eminent doctors owned up that they too could do nothing more. They too were unable to diagnose the young man’s illness and hence did not know how to treat him.

After coming to know all this, Joseph felt so disheartened and dejected that he told his parents, “I must see Fr. Rufus today.” I made it clear to them, when they approached me, that I could not absent myself from the retreat even for a short time. But they kept coming back again and again, saying that their son would not take no for an answer, and pleading that I come to the hospital – however late the hour.

I finally consented to come at the end of the day’s program, at about 10.30 pm. Seeing him in the ICU (intensive care unit) surrounded by all those sophisticated medical apparatus, I deduced that he must be very, very sick, and that is why he had called for me. But when I asked him, “What do you want? Why did you call me?” he answered to my great astonishment, “I want to make my confession!”

I was taken aback at first by this unusual request, since I had assumed that he had wanted me to come and pray over him for healing. Then I grew somewhat infuriated that he had dragged me all the way from the retreat in Bandra, instead of arranging for a priest in the parish where the hospital was situated to come and hear his routine confession. But on second thoughts, I cooled down and said to myself, “Perhaps, that is what he wants, and more important, what he needs.” And when he made his confession – it was a sincere and thorough confession of his whole life – I knew then that that was what he needed and therefore wanted.

My son, your sins are forgiven

I was about to leave his ICU private room, when there suddenly flashed into my mind the Gospel narrative of the healing of the paralyzed man. Whenever I refer to this Gospel incident during a retreat, I make it a point to ask the participants, “What did Jesus first say to the paralyzed man?” The unanimous answer I receive everywhere is, “Your sins are forgiven!” To their disappointment and chagrin, I tell them that this answer is equally wrong! I repeat the question, and with bated breath they wait for my answer to my own question, “The first thing that Jesus told this sick helpless creature was, ‘MY SON’.” And after a pause, I resume and tell them, “Then only did Jesus continue saying, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (Mk 2:1-12).

For even though Jesus knew that this man was burdened by sin and needed the experience of God’s forgiveness, he also knew that he was oppressed by in a way the greater burden of guilt and needed also the assurance of God’s forgiving love. For God has sent Jesus to save the world, and NOT to condemn it (Jn 3:17). Jesus has indeed come not just to forgive our sins, but to free us from sin’s greatest consequence, the burden of guilt.

The miraculous healing power of Confession

It was therefore without the previous hesitation and with a new assurance that I returned to the sickbed. Looking up to heaven I prayed, “Lord, after you told the paralyzed man, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven’, you did not stop there; but you continued and said, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and go home’. Lord, you are the same: yesterday, today and forever. And so, in imitation of you, I am not going to stop after telling this modern paralytic, in your name and in the name of your church, ‘Your sins are forgiven’. I am going to continue and do what you did 2000 years ago, knowing fully well that what happened then will likewise happen now.”

I then looked down at the sick man and said, “Now that God has forgiven you your sins, I would like to pray for your physical healing too.”

It was his turn now to stare at me in surprise. He had not asked me to pray for healing before. Nor did he ask me to do so even now. It was I who took the initiative and made the suggestion. And after praying for some time, with his sister Jenny, a youth leader of the charismatic renewal in Bombay, I was so sure that what happened in the Gospel story then would happen even now, that I had the nerve to tell him, “Now move”. Before that he could not move his body, because of the intense pain. Now he moved. “Sit up”, I said. He sat up in his bed. “Get out of your bed.” He got out. “Bend over.” He bent over. “Walk about.” He walked about. Only I did not tell him, as Jesus did, “Take up your bed and go home.” For that was not his bed. And the next day he was discharged from the hospital.

How much more are we in the sight of God, our Father, his beloved sons and daughters first and only then sinners – and forgiven sinners at that. Jesus has indeed come not just to forgive our sins, but to free us from sin’s greatest consequence, the burden of guilt.

Joseph’s Testimony

About a year later, I happened to recognize Joseph as a participant of the retreat that I was giving at Vinayalaya Retreat House, Andheri, Mumbai. When at the end of my first day’s talk on God’s initiative of forgiving love and man’s response of repentance, I retold the above incident, I remarked in passing that the young man whose testimony I had related was present here for this retreat, and that if he wished to confirm or change, add to or subtract from what I had said, – he was free to do so.

He got up at once, came on to the platform and facing the audience who looked at him with a sort of wonder, said only one sentence: “When I honestly repented and humbly confessed my sins to God and the Church, with the full assurance of God’s forgiving love in the Sacrament of Confession, I knew deep within myself that I was already even physically healed. – Even now I feel that there was really no need of Father having prayed over me for a physical healing”.

It is therefore through our repentance that we open ourselves to God’s forgiveness, that brings with it the experience of the warm embrace of the Father crying out with out joy, ‘My son, my daughter, was dead and is now alive.

- – – written by Fr. Rufus Pereira


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