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December 4th, 2012

Is It Possible To Pray Always?

Pray Always

A Church in England; the priests of the nearby parishes are summoned for a priestly gathering, prayer, sharing and reflection. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17) – it was the subject of their talk.

How could one pray without ceasing? As we are engaged in many responsibilities, is it possible to pray always? How come we are able to perform our duties well, while always in prayer?

The discussion grew serious on the subject. At last the president of the meeting, an old learned priest concluded; “this subject is very complicated and confusing. So let us submit these issues as a thesis in the next meeting. Basing on that we will continue our discussion…”

Hearing this, the woman who had been serving the tea exclaimed; “Oh my God… why another meeting to understand the meaning of this Word of God? How simple is the advice of St. Paul?”

“If it is too simple, explain to us the meaning;” said the priest.

She responded with calmness; “How long had I been praying without ceasing. As I open my eyes in the morning, I would thank the Lord for the good day. Seeing the Sun rising, I would pray, Jesus, Sun of justice, rise in the sky of my heart. When I take the tea, I would pray, come Holy Spirit and quench the thirst of my soul. As I clean the room, I will pray for sanctification in my life. As I cook the food I will remember my Lord becoming bread and wine for me. Seeing my children I would reflect that we are the children of God and contemplate on His providence. The vision of river, plants and streams make me think of the greatness of God who created them. What I do and what I see are prayers for me.”

As they heard this, they thanked the Lord that these mysteries are hidden from the wise and revealed to the simple.

There may be many who studied a lot on prayer and consumed their life without sincerely praying at least once in life. Though we have many commentaries and dictionaries of Bible in our shelf, we may not find it serious to reflect on the Word of God.

We have many notebooks and piece of papers filled with thoughts and reflections which we have accumulated through years. Without putting them into practice, we are running after new ones. New books, new CDs and new meditation techniques… When are we going to live them? Is our life a failure in our pursuit after the intoxicating effect of knowledge without recognizing the flaw of our souls? Do not forget the old notes while going to attend the new retreats.

Do not forget the old striking Words marked in your Bible and go in search of the new ones. God will bless you.

Prayer: Lord, deliver us from the intoxicating effect of knowledge, grant us the wisdom to put into practice what we have already acquired. Amen.

- – - written by Benny Punnathara


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September 17th, 2012

The Bible : A Story Of Migration

The Bible Is A Story Of Migration

The Bible itself is a story of migration; an exodus of generations. Abraham was nomadic! His grandchildren were immigrants in Egypt. Even Jesus was in exile in Egypt. Kudos! Migration is the true spirit of Christianity. Migration is a new point of evangelization and solidarity.

I know, it is hard to digest. We often feel alienated and dejected. We are ‘rootless’, well, sometimes ‘ruthless’ too. We are aliens in very strange terrains. But, one who accepts a stranger accepts the Lord: ‘I was a stranger and you made me welcome’ (Mt. 25:35). I dare to say, migration is a divine vocation; a vocation for re-evangelization of the world.

What is Migration?

Migration is the movement of people from one location to another for temporary or permanent living. It is presently a worldwide phenomenon. This covers persons of various categories, such as migrant workers and their families, students, refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, particularly women and children, and others.

The migration story is a key to Biblical ancestry. The Lord said to Abraham: ‘Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.’ Genesis 12: 1-2

That was the starting point of the migration of the ‘God chosen’ man; a true vocation by the God Himself. Abraham recognised this divine call and migrated to Canaan; an alien land.

Abraham’s second migration was from Canaan to Egypt to survive from the famine in Canaan. In Genesis 15, God tells Abram his role in this ‘migration story’. The Lord said to him, ‘your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land; they will be slaves there and they will be treated cruelly for four hundred years’ (Genesis 15: 13)

The story continues in Abraham and Sarah’s desire for children. At Sarah’s insistence, Hagar, the Egyptian slave-girl, the foreigner, bears Abraham a child, Ismael. Eventually they are exiled into the wilderness and God promises to make Ismael a great nation – the same promise given to Isaac. (Genesis 21)
The migration story continues with famine causing Isaac to settle in the land of Gerar as an alien. (Gen. 26:2) It picks up with Jacob travelling to another land for a wife. Later he is forced to flee because of his sons’ violence. God directs him to Bethel. We eventually learn that Jacob settles in ‘the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan.’ (Gen. 37:1)

The story of Joseph in Old Testament is a true story of giving asylum to an entire community. Eventually, they are becoming a larger community in the foreign land. God’s plans are weird!  Those jealous brothers sell Joseph into slavery and being transported to Egypt and rising to power. It comes full circle, when famine strikes over much of the world and Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt seeking grain. The circle is complete when Joseph’s father and brothers, their families, flocks, and all they possess leave Canaan and migrate to Goshen, where there is food. (Genesis 37-47)

The book of Exodus begins with a story of persecution of infant boys. They are all to be thrown into the Nile. However, one, who would in today’s language be referred to as a ‘Unaccompanied Alien Child’ is rescued from the river and raised in Pharaoh’s palace. His name was Moses. Moses becomes an exile in Midian due to some unfortunate events.

In Midian, Moses marries Zipporah and is eventually called by God to return to Egypt because, in God’s words, ‘The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ Moses wonders how he could possibly do this and God replies, ‘I will be with you.’ (Exodus 3:1- 3:12) Moses returns to Egypt, and facilitates the Hebrew Exodus through a series of plagues and dialogues with Pharaoh. When his people are finally permitted to leave, they leave most refugees leave, without much time to pack, but with God leading them.

The uprooted story continues throughout the Bible and the story of the exile of the Israelites. This can be followed in Kings, Chronicles, Esther, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Amos. Literally everyone is on the move and most are going into exile. This includes the prophets, the priests, and the people. Exile shows no mercy, however there are persons who did not and do not go into exile.

Migration of Jesus

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, to which his parents traveled because of the census and taxation. We know that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph settled for about two years in Bethlehem, until after the Wise Men’s appearance.

Once the three kings left, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him. Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.” (Matthew 1:13-15)

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph became ‘asylum seekers’ in Egypt. Without travel documents, they cross the border, looking for safety and sanctuary. Someone takes them in. Someone welcomes them and protects them.

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses to dwell in; plant gardens, and eat their fruits. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters. There you must increase in number, not decrease. Promote the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you; pray for it to the LORD, for upon its welfare depends your own.’ Jeremiah 29: 4-7

The first and primary duty of each migrant is to work hard for the well-being of the country they are migrated in. A Christian migrant needs to pray for the host country.

A vision of Isaiah announced this: ‘In the days to come the mountain of the temple of Yahweh shall tower above the mountains… All the nations will stream to it’ (Isaiah 2:2). In the gospel Jesus Himself prophesied that ‘people from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God’ (Lk 13:29), and the Apocalypse sees ‘a huge number… from every nation, race, tribe and language’ (Ap 7:9).

The Bible begins with the ‘migration’ of God’s spirit and ends with John in exile on the Isle of Patmos – between those two events the uprooted people of God seek safety, sanctuary and refuge.

- – - written by Santimon Jacob


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July 8th, 2012

Psalm 23 For The Workplace

Psalm 23 For The Workplace

The Lord is my real boss,
and I shall not want.
He gives me peace,
when chaos is all around me.
He gently reminds me
to pray before I speak
and to do all things without
murmuring and complaining.
He reminds me that
He is my Source
and not my job.

He restores my sanity every day
and guides my decisions
that I might honor Him
in everything I do.
Even though I face
absurd amounts of
emails, system crashes,
unrealistic deadlines,
budget cutbacks,
gossiping co-workers,
discriminating supervisors,
and an aging body
that doesn’t cooperate
every morning,
I will not stop -
for He is with me!

His presence, His peace,
and His power will see me through.
He raises me up,
even when they fail to promote me.
He claims me as His own,
Even when the company
threatens to let me go.
His faithfulness and love
are better than any bonus check.
His retirement plan beats
every 401K there is!
When it’s all said and done,
I’ll be working for Him
a whole lot longer;
and for that, I bless His name.

Download Psalm 23 For The Workplace PDF


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