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March 5th, 2011

Stations Of The Cross

Stations of The Cross

Way of the Cross leads us not to the tomb, but to the glory of life.

We observe 14 Stations of the Cross as a repentance prayer, in the lent period that precedes Easter in order to meditate on the passion of Jesus who was condemned to death and crucified at Calvary by Jews and Roman soldiers who opposed the teachings and doings of the Son of God.

Go and see The Way of the Cross in Pictures

These stations of the passion of Christ are prayed as follows:

1. Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate – Although Pilate knew beyond doubt that Jesus did nothing wrong, wanting to satisfy the demanding crowd He released Barabas, a notorious criminal to them. Then Pilate had Jesus flogged and handed over him to be crucified. Jesus was to be crucified for the serious sins committed by each one of us. It is said “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thus, instead of sinners like us dying for our sins, Jesus paid by his death for us to be saved.

2. Jesus bears the Cross – The Cross, said to have been made for Barabas, was to be carried by Jesus and the criminal who was to be crucified was spared. It was a very heavy cross. Jesus carried such a cross because our sins are so huge. In a way we are Barabasses of various types of mortal sins. The cross was unbearable, yet Jesus took upon himself the cross for us to be rescued and made us ready for heaven.

3. Jesus falls the first time – We committed sins to such a critical level, that load of the Cross was so heavy, Jesus fell to the ground with the cross. Our sins will fail us miserably and we will fall dangerously unless we repent and remain in the ways of God.

4. Jesus meets His Mother – Jesus and His mother Mary met each other during the journey to Calvary. This is the saddest meeting any mother and son could ever experience. And suffering is the worst in silence. We shall sincerely pray to Jesus through the intercession of Mother Mary to receive spiritual strength to bear sorrows, sufferings and separations.

5. Pedestrian Simon helps Jesus in distress – Simon was from Cyrene. He was passing by on his way home. Soldiers seized him and forced him to carry the cross behind Jesus. Simon is fortunate; he could lend a helping hand to Jesus. Sinners like us would never accept any cross. Instead we would try to place them on others because there is pleasure in doing sin. And in carrying cross there is pain. If we have a mustard seed size faith in Jesus, we are bound by his love to carry the cross given to us and we should accept due punishment for our sins.

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus – According to legend, Jesus was offered a handkerchief by Saint Veronica, on the road to Calvary and the image of Jesus was impressed upon it by divine will. She was the only person who took courage to defy the orders of the soldiers and so closely met Jesus and did this never-forgettable act. O Jesus, my Lord, yours was the most handsome face of a man the earth ever saw. Though through our sins we have disfigured ourselves and became unworthy to show our face to you, your face remains the holiest.

7. Jesus falls the second time – The ongoing increase in human sins was unbearable even to God, Jesus fell the second time. We must prayerfully remember that our sins can fall us fatally and without the grace of God we cannot rise. Jesus, lift us out from the dark pit we are in.

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem – ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep for yourselves and for your children.’ These words of Jesus remain true even today. We are weeping not about ourselves and not about our children. This is because we are all sinners. When sin is in, Jesus finds no place in the inn of our mind. We remain in the domain of the devil. Jesus, shower your grace and save us from the grip of the evil.

9. Jesus falls the third time – This is a warning signal to all of us that our sins will keep failing us and we will fall never to rise. We should avoid sin and avoid eternal fall. Jesus strengthens us in our faith.

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments – When one’s worn clothes are forcefully removed, it is a shame in public. Here, Jesus was the victim at the hands of the soldiers. Clothes of us are the symbols of sins and Jesus is happy when we are stripped of our sins. Jesus, keep us away from sins.

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross – Crucifixion is the worst form of killing a person. Jesus chose the worst form of death for our deadly sins. We made the nails of sins for Jesus to nail Him to the cross. Our sins gave deathly pain to Jesus. Sins are capable of such atrocities. Jesus, give us the wisdom to abstain from sins.

12. Jesus dies on the cross – Jesus accepted a miserable death on the cross to give us eternal salvation and the kingdom of heaven. The wage of sin being death, He accepted it on the Cross to save us. Our souls would eternally die, if He had not died for us. There is repentance and absolution for our sins, since Jesus paid the price for them.

13. Jesus is brought down from the cross to be buried – Death brings everyone down to the earth but Jesus was brought down to the earth by our sins. The age in which we live is short with Simons and Samaritans but long with Barabasses and Judasses. Hence, God’s grace is essential for physical and spiritual survival. Jesus, give us your protection at all times.

14. Jesus is placed in the burial vault – Joseph who came from Arimathea got permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus from Cross. He took the body of Jesus down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. Jesus, when we die allow us to join you in heaven.

Read about why we should pray the stations of the Cross

The way of the Cross leads us not to emptiness but to triumph and glory.

Our ways of the cross too are the same. They too lead us to glory and victory.

– – – written by Dr. C.T George

March 5th, 2011

Light Vs Darkness : Who Will Win?

Light Vs Darkness Who will win?

Darkness can never fight against light, it can only exist where there is no light.

Human existence is a long history of an unceasing battle between two invisible forces: the power of darkness and the authority of light. Christ alone attributed ‘power’ to darkness. “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Lk 22:53). And all those who deliberately hate the light of the Gospel, love and remain in the power of darkness (Jn. 3:20).

All of us are either in the ‘kingdom of darkness’ or in the ‘kingdom of light.’ Christ by his coming has effected a transference from the reign of darkness to that of the light. “He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).

Good soldier of Christ Jesus

The envisaged spiritual battle is not easy to be launched and won. It is a battle for the perseverance of one’s faith. The devils are determined to destroy our holy faith and they strike at the root of our belief and trust. And so, every Christian has to ‘take the share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 2:3). And his/her aim is to “satisfy the One who enlisted him/her” to defeat the enemy (2 Tim 2:4). St. Paul describes the nature of our war and the type of the weapons that we need to put on daily (Eph. 6:10-18).

We are not battling against any human being, but against a power that is beyond – the power of darkness of the heavenly places. In fact, the Israelites “went up out of the land of Egypt fully armed for battle” (Ex. 13:18) and they did not have any “experience of any war in Canaan” (Judges 3:1). And they would often pray: “Give us help against the foe, for the help of man is in vain” (Ps. 108:12). And the enemies’ strategy is to strip the believer of his weapons (2 Sam 2:21), so that he can easily defeat him/her. The disarmed Christians would become easy prey to the enemy’s eyes.

The only offensive weapon that we have at our disposal is the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17). But unfortunately, most of the Catholics neglect this mighty weapon in their life. And so, “on the day of the battle, there was neither sword (of the Spirit = Word of God), nor spear found in the hand of any of the people” (1 Sam 13:22).

We are kept busy

All of us are busy with schools, colleges, hostels, dispensaries, social works etc., that we have no time to reflect about the acquisition and use of the acquisition and use of the “sword of the Spirit.” And so, we are easily defeated by the enemies of our life. Our attention is easily and readily diverted to superficial things of life, so that we are deprived of the most essential, spiritual and offensive weapon – the Word of God. Thus we easily get worn out with a spiritual syndrome called “burnt out” souls.

“He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High” (Dan 7:25). In fact, unconsciously we are all kept busy with many mundane things and the enemy is quite happy. “My child, do not busy yourself with many matters, if you multiply activities you will not go unpunished” (Sir. 11:10).

Believe in the Lord

When the Israelites had to face a three pronged battles (the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Meunites), King Jehoshaphat got frightened and “sought help from the Lord” (2 Chr. 20:3). He proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. In his great humility the King prayed: “We are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon thee” (2 Chr 20:12). God’s Spirit took control of young man named Jahaziel and he told the people: “Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2 Chr. 20:15).

What would be the core factor to the success of the battle? Let us listen to what Jehoshaphat had to tell the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah: “Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed” (2 Chr. 20:20).

– – – written by J. Eapen SDB

March 4th, 2011

What Is Your Image Then And Now?

What Is Your Image Then And Now

Have we experienced the sacrament of reconciliation as a unique sacrament? Are we able to live in that grace after the sacrament? What is our approach towards our fellowmen and women who are not holy, according to us? Have you ever tried to rate yourself?

Here is one incident. In John’s Gospel, chapter 8, we see an adulterous woman is caught in adultery and Jesus response to that incident. As it was a daily activity Jesus was coming from mount olives. People of Israel encountered God in the mount and here Jesus was with God all night. Jesus began his daily ministry after prayer. Silent hours with God, has to be the weapon of a spiritual person. Jesus comes to the temple area, and teaches them.

Today too, people long for proper teaching, Word of God and look towards the spiritual people for it. They do think that they can get it from spiritual people. It is possible only when one gains strength from God daily, by being with Him hours, otherwise one will be teaching his own words than God’s word.

He did not give any publicity for his preaching but God the father attracts people towards Jesus. He was doing his father’s mission. When one does father’s mission it is the father who attracts people, not the speaker or the publicity of the preacher. Jesus has come to accomplish his father’s work. The Pharisees and the scribes brought the adulterous woman. Where is the man with whom she committed the sin? How did he escape?

According to the Moses law, Dt.17:5, if a man or woman caught in adultery; she or he has to be stoned to death. Why they forgot about the man? Or he might have escaped by using various methods. There are occasions, only few are caught, due to influence, money, position many escape. And they act as if nothing is wrong with them. Some even try to continue cheating or exploiting others, and proudly say that none of the laws can catch them. Although they are free, in front of God they cannot escape.

The Pharisees and scribes fail to see themselves very clearly and they thought about them that they are on right track; and condemned the woman according to them who was a worst sinner. This often happens in the society. Are we acting like those who judged the woman but fail to judge themselves? In Mt.7:3, ‘why notice spinster of your brother’s eye and do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?’

What Jesus might be writing with his fingers? Was he writing the law? Yes, he was writing about the law of love and how important that woman is in front of God. She clearly perceives that writing, she saw herself completely in front of Jesus which made her transformation or conversion. Once you are along with Jesus, you will be able to see about yourself very clearly, which can transform you. This might be one of the reasons that people seldom find time along with Jesus, but do not forget the truth that only by the grace of God, one can be converted.

Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw stone at her (8:7). He sees every one’s heart, once they come face to face with Jesus. They went away one by one. This happens very often, many are not willing to accept their fault, they wont go for confession even though they know they are sinners, instead they try to justify themselves with lot of excuses and slowly moves away from the sacrament of reconciliation.

Jesus is telling the woman by calling her woman, accepting that she is the image of god, and gives her full dignity as a human than those people who saw her object who was doing adultery, who supposed to be stoned. Unless one has the deep spiritual mind one is not able to see the divine and human aspect in others, and for them others are only an objects.

Once she has become the image of God; she has discovered her lost image, Jesus reminds her that she should not sin again, as a result she can always be in that God image. Jesus who goes behind the lost sheep saw very clearly the heaven is rejoicing when the woman has returned to God. He replaces the law of sin with the law of love. In fact in every sacrament of reconciliation one is able to discover his or her lost image and becomes the child of God.

See and accept others as Jesus saw them and accepted them.

– – – written by Fr. Biju Maramkuzhackal SVD

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