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August 18th, 2013

Spiritual and Emotional Charity

Spiritual and Emotional Charity

Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. Normally we put charity as love of neighbor. But mostly we limit it in the physical capacities. For example we can say charity is feeding the poor, helping the needy, giving shelter to the orphan.

But this only involves food, shelter and clothing which are only the physical aspect of charity. The physical aspect of charity is called almsgiving. But there is much more to charity than just alms-giving. We need to increase in love so that we can see spiritual and emotional charity, the two important forms of expressing love based on the two greatest commandments taught by Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Charity

a) Jesus says, “Love your God with all your heart and all your mind.” So loving God means always thinking about him, seeking his presence, giving him the first priority in life. This means never missing an opportunity to be with him, always desiring more and more time spent with him. To seek the Holy Spirit and relish his gifts and charisms.

b) The next one is always thanking him irrespective of all circumstances, because only he is worthy of all praise and honor from his people. We must always remember his wonders in our lives as well as thank him for sending us his son for our salvation. He always desires that we adore and praise him. Like our Lord Jesus Christ, we must accept God’s will in our lives and always give thanks to him.

c) Loving his Church, the living body of Christ is our duty and responsibility. We are called to obey and support the holy Catholic Church. To understand what the Church teaches and clearing all misconceptions about our faith is our duty. To remain strong in faith and obedience to the Church till the Lord comes again is our duty. Taking Mother Mary as our example we must always live with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit when on earth.

d) God does not differentiate between Jews , Muslims or Buddhists. All are part of his creation. He would like each one of his sheep to be saved. He would also desire that his children live in peace when on earth. So let carry out our Christ’s command in proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth in whatever ways possible by us. Let us remember God’s love for the world. That he gave his Son for each person on this earth whom he willfully created.

e) God reigns from the everlasting to the everlasting. He has given us life, and with his abundant mercy forgives and heals us even though we fail frequently. We must not take for granted any of his blessings he has bestowed upon us. We must not take pride or credit for his blessings. Even faith is a gift which he gives freely to his children. We must acknowledge and testify to his presence and blessings in our lives.

Emotional Charity

a) Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Judging or pointing out others mistakes is not charity. Instead appreciating them as a gift of God, we must respect and encourage them with compassion and benevolence. We must remember to pray for them. Jesus said, “everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”(Mt 5:22).

b) Sometimes we are forced to lie or avoid the truth in order to remain worthy/great in the eyes of another person. Sometimes to cut the conversation short or to escape punishment we use this way out. Jesus says in John 17:19 “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.” Here we see how Jesus is consecrating himself with truth. If we are not consecrated in truth, we are not partakers of Christ who is himself the truth, the way and the life.

c) We are recognized as Christians not only by faith but also by our works. We must always practice what we preach, without acting like hypocrites. We must live in such a way that inspires all around us to live a holy life. We must exude love always and everywhere we go. Jesus tells us,” You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Mt 5:48) It is our duty to inspire and encourage others around us to live in with hope and consolation in our Lord Jesus Christ.

d) Jesus says in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” In the verses that follow Jesus says that you will be flogged, mocked, persecuted for me. We must not find ways and means to escape this pain. Instead remembering our Lord’s passion we must bear it with patience. By saying wise as serpents, Jesus is calling us to be aware of the vain promises and schemes of the evil one. To always lookout for the traps the evil one sets for us in our daily lives.

e) “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!”(Mt 18:7) We must in no way be a cause for our neighbor to sin, either by looks, words or actions. We must always be charitable to others in the way we speak, act or dress such that they are not led to sin. And also we must be aware that we do not yield to such temptations like jealousy, pride or inferiority complex by the way others behave with us.

Prayer: May we be empowered by the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, through which we become one with Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit, always seeking the will of God in our lives through the powerful intercession of our Mother Mary.

– – – written by Praveen Sebastian

July 31st, 2012

Moved By Love

A priest with a paralyzed body has become a source of strength for the physically and mentally challenged. He is Fr. Sebastian Thengumpallil, who believes that he has been called to this unusual vocation by the will of God.

Fr. Sebastian was a Jesuit Scholastic pursuing his graduation. At the same time he was a playback singer, organizer, teacher, and social activist, actively involved in multifaceted fields of life. But the course of his life changed drastically at the age of 23 with the visit of a least expected ‘guest’ to his body. It was in 1985. It all started with a mild fever. Doctors diagnosed deadly Guillian Barrie Syndrome and predicted a delicate chance of survival. He lost his power of movement below his neck. At first he had to depend upon others even for a glass of water. But with the help of relatives and colleagues he limped back to life.

Fr.Sebastian Thengumpallil 01

His companions in the Jesuit Order were attending to all his needs and the superiors and his dear ones from home monitored  every beep and movement of the life-support machines and wholeheartedly supported his struggles to live. He became consciously aware of the change of his question to God. He asked, “How, O Lord, how shall I overcome my suffering?” To this he heard HIS life-giving words: “Be not afraid, I am with you.”

The Guillian Barrie Syndrome left him with permanent disorders and challenges to his life. His muscles were shrunk, limbs stiffened, body became numb and the chest remained squeezed. With continuous physiotherapy he could walk on plain floors with the help of a walker. He needed a helping hand to climb a step. But it could not rob off all his dreams. Usually a disabled will not be ordained a priest, especially as a Jesuit priest, since the life of a Jesuit priest demands a lot of physical endurance. But due to his iron will and determination he was able to complete his studies and was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1997.

It was when late Fr. Joseph Kannampuzha, S.J., the founder of Snehabhavan, Kottayam, Kerala, India invited him to join his initiative. Snehabhavan is dedicated to the education, training and rehabilitation of the physically and mentally challenged. He now takes it as the passion and the mission of his life to communicate to those who struggle to survive with physical and mental challenges. He is now the executive director of Snehabhavan responsible for running a special school that caters to 71 students with special needs; managing a Vocational Training Centre under Snehabhavan for physically challenged and coordinating the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) projects spread over eight Gramapanchayats of Kottayam district catering to the rehabilitation needs of 1116 families.

Every mentally and physically challenged child he comes across is specifically important for him. He is very particular that everyone is approached in a very personal way. His priestly vocation gives him that approach. He believes that everyone is a unique and precious child of God and merits to be treated so.

Fr.Sebastian Thengumpallil 02

Fr. Sebastian is a man of practical wisdom. He is moved by compassion and love, especially if the person in front of him is physically or mentally challenged. That makes him empathetic and he is driven by a firm conviction that the person before him deserves his services. Above all, as a Catholic priest, he discerns a spiritual dimension of every situation where God is in charge and this gives him a sense of direction and orientation. Thus he gets an inspiration to be a co-worker with Jesus Christ.

To conclude, when there is passion, there is a dream, a project to imagine. When there is a project, there is a vision and a way to achieve it. That necessitates a professional approach to fulfill it. When there is a person deserving our help and there is a passionate dream that moves us, there is a practical way to help that person. This sums up Fr. Sebastian’s vision and mission with Snehabhavan.

Fr. Sebastian can be reached at +91-481-2597984 (Mob: +91 9496224332)

To know more about Snehabvavan, Kottayam and to offer your help, if any, visit their official website www.snehabhavanktm.org

July 13th, 2010

Charity

Charity

Charity –  The charity of Christ – Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”  But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Reflection:-

The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

“After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.” –  (St. Therese, Story of a Soul) “

Christ has given us a share in his own life through death on the cross and Resurrection, and so we must be as Christs for one another and give in the same way. “To whom much is given, much is expected.” To those who call themselves Christian has been given more than to anyone else in the world.

“By charity, we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God. Charity, the form of all the virtues, binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3:14).” The charity of the Samaritan made him pleasing in God’s eyes, though to Jews he was a heretic and an outcast, judged condemned. The priest, a leader and holy man among the Jewish people fell short in God’s eyes, for he was without charity.

“Christ died out of love for us, while we were still enemies. (Romans 5:10) The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself. Why charity? To share in Gods life and love and thus be happy. Living the virtue of charity bears the fruit of divine love and a foretaste of heaven which is the state of perfect fulfillment and eternal happiness in the presence of the living God.

“The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.” (CCC 1829)

How is charity lost? God has given us free will, and therefore we must cooperate with his grace and freely choose to do His will. If we choose to break his law with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will, we loose the virtue of charity having sinned mortally. Venial sins weaken charity and can lead to mortal sin. Charity is our greatest gift and our greatest call. St. Pauls hymn on charity mught be the most beautiful in all of Scripture.

“If I . . . have not charity,” says the Apostle, “I am nothing.” Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, “if I . . . have not charity, I gain nothing.” Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: “So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.” We must love all, including our enemies, and must pray for them or we are without charity and therefore without God’s love. Let us begin now the regular practice of prayer for our enemies as well as for those who love us that the doors of heaven may not be shut against us.

Our burden and privilege as Christians is to be held to the very highest standards of conduct in thought, word and deed: Christ Jesus Himself. We desire to live abundantly, that is forever, and only in Christ is found such abundant life. If we would live forever we must begin now to live in Christ and persist in this life until the end.

– – – reflection by Fr Abraham Muruppel

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