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December 31st, 2012

Time For New Year Resolutions

Time For New Year Resolutions

The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning.

In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?

Common New Year’s resolutions

Common New Year’s resolutions are commitments to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money more wisely, and to spend more time with family. By far, the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, in conjunction with exercising more and eating more healthily. These are all good goals to set.

However, 1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things. This should not be.

Do you have the proper motivation?

Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Year’s resolution. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity.

For example, why do you want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have just heard that it is a good thing to do? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it for vanity, to honor yourself?

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.

Recommended New Year Resolutions for Christians

1. Pray to the Lord for wisdom in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make;
2. Pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you;
3. Rely on God’s strength to help you;
4. Find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you;
5. Don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further;
6. Don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory.

Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

December 28th, 2012

How To Deal With Failures

How to deal with failures

To come to Jesus is easy. But to follow His footsteps is a tough job, especially when, during the course of our journey of life when we have to halt at the station of failure. Not knowing whether, the halt is going to be a permanent stay.

Failure becomes difficult to accept when one fails at the point of winning. For a moment everything comes to standstill when, the atmosphere, to this very moment was encouraging us to win, all of a sudden, pushes us into the pit of failure. People who were once confident about our victory are now confident about us failing. More than our own lack of success it is the people’s rejection that makes us get drowned into the ocean of failures, “All my enemies, and especially my neighbors, treat me with contempt; those who know me are afraid of me; when they see me in the street, they run away.” (Ps. 31:11)

We fail, but we make the people the final judge of our life and destiny, ignoring the reasons of our failure. Its like ‘failure’ is the ‘stepping-stone’ not to our success, but, the ‘foundation-stone’ for the public judgment! A very disheartening and disappointing moment of life, because we are letting ourselves be slaves of our failures and rejections. Forgetting the fact that God, our dear Abba Father made us to “have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small.” (Gen. 1:26)

The power of negativity

The chains of death are so tightly tied from the crown of our head to the very soles of our feet that we easily allow us to be consumed by the power of negativity. The power is so strong that every heartbeat makes us feel lonely, hurt, humiliated and weak. It is at this moment of crisis that our sweet Jesus gently embraces us and softly whispers into our ears, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” (Rev. 3:20)

“I know you through and through – I know everything about you… I know what is in your heart – I know your loneliness and all your hurts – the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations. I carried it all before you. And I carried it all for you, so that, you might share My strength and victory. I know especially your need for love – how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished. But how often have you thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures – with even greater emptiness of sin. Do you thirst for love? Come to Me all you who thirst… I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished? I cherish you more than you can imagine – to the point of dying on a cross for you. I THIRST FOR YOU…” (I Thirst For You by Mother Teresa)

Death is transformed into a new life when we shift our focus from ourselves to the Lord. For, Christ is love and His love gives this new life. “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring which will provide him with life-giving water and give him eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14) Man is born with the spring of life in him and chosen to the royal scepter of Christ the King. The Lord of Glory gives us the dignity which is far beyond our failures. “I have given you great honor although you do not know me.” (Is. 45:4) We are pronounced not just as a social animal, but as a ‘Man’, a ‘true Man’ of courage, boldness and firmness.

The Lord says, “I am the resurrection and life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (Jn. 11:25-26) He is calling you and me to face the challenges of failures and rejections boldly and defeat the strong evil forces by the spirit of our Mighty God for, “the spirit who is in you is more powerful than the spirit in those who belong to the world.” (1 Jn. 4:4) And the victory is ours for the glory of our Lord.

What to do with failures

Every failure that comes our way must be treated gently and not with intense fear. Failure in any field does not mean that we lack the potentiality to win and succeed, its just that we need to do it in a different way. The reasons could be many. One has to accept one’s failure gracefully and surrender it at the feet of our Lord. Like the woman who touched Jesus’ cloak, we also need to come up in the crowd, the crowd full of failures, rejections and loneliness and touch the edge of His cloak and experience the quick healing of our Lord, “My daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

Abba Father, the creator of our being, is the only solution to every problem of ours. He is the ultimate medicine to all our unconquerable tasks and failures, “I am the Lord your God, the one who wants to teach you for your own good and direct you in the way you should go.” (Is. 48:17) He is the perfect antidote to our suffering.

Dear readers in Christ, I do realize that writing volumes on failures and success are easy. In real life the situation is tough. If I consider this page as my confessional, I sincerely confess that at present I am struggling to swim against the harsh waves of failures and defeat. At times, the force is so strong that my limbs grow weak and I feel that I am drowning, it’s hard, and it’s really very hard. But why not my sincere readers, dare to face our challenges boldly and proclaim, “With God on our side we will win; He will defeat our enemies.” (Ps. 108:13)

Let’s be the true brave soldiers of God and fight our enemies back, the strong enemies of failures, sufferings, rejections, loneliness, humiliations, sicknesses and all the negative forces. Let us believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, for “not a single hair from your heads will be lost. Stand firm, and you will save yourselves.” (Luke 21:18)

Let us pray: My sweet Jesus, I believe that I am the perfect divine ‘Lamp of Yours’. You have lighted and chosen me before I was born. You feel so proud and great when this humble ‘Lamp of Yours’ keep burning with all its might for you. But dear Jesus, the force of the enemy Wind is so strong and destructive that I am afraid I will be put out. I am scared of the Wind, my Jesus. I am trying hard to keep myself burning. Its a tough battle. I place myself at the gentle hands of my Mother Mary. I believe in her unfailing protection and intercession for me.

Abba Father, continuously pour your holy oil into this weak ‘Lamp of Yours’. With strong faith I cry out your promising words to Prophet Zechariah, that, I will succeed not by military might or by my own strength; but by the spirit of the Lord. Obstacles as great as mountains will disappear before me, I will rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem and my sweet Jesus will keep me burning till the end. You will make me victorious. I trust in you. Amen.

– – – written by Anu Siby, Kolkotta

December 27th, 2012

Are You Ready For The Heavenly Banquet?

The Heavenly Banquet

We must always be ready to receive a precious call from our Lord.

Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt.22:14). In order to prove this statement Jesus presented a unique picture of a king who set a wedding banquet in honor of his son for his people (Mt.22:1-14).

Parable of the wedding banquet

He took greatest care of the invited; at first he invited them, then he sent servants to call those who were invited. Again, he sent other servants to tell those who were invited that his dinner was ready. But they made light of it, and went off to their business. When the king saw that those invited were not worthy, he sent his servants to main streets with a fresh invitation for all, good and bad alike. And behold the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The king was very happy to see that the wedding hall was filled and it came to his notice that a man was there without wedding garment. The king was surprised to see him and asked politely, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” But the man said nothing, neither did he apologize. So the king asked the attendants, to cast him out of the marriage hall in to the outer darkness.

Heavenly Banquet for all of us

Jesus presents before us his Father who sets a Heavenly Banquet for which we are called and chosen. There are two categories of people mentioned here in the parable. The former is the category of people who are called or invited but they could not be present for the banquet. They took light of the call and went away to their own business, made them incapable of enjoying the banquet. The latter accepted the invitation wholeheartedly, put away the entire inconveniences, expressed honor and respect to the host. As a result they were chosen to enjoy the company of the host and the wedding banquet.

The kingdom of God or the life to which we are called is like a wedding celebration for eternity. Usually the joy of a wedding feast ends within a week but the joy of a life to which we are called is for eternity. Unlike our style of invitation, we find God the Father – the host of the banquet takes greatest care and attention towards the invited.

At first he invites them, secondly he sends his servants to call them, and again he sends other servants to tell them that the dinner is ready. It is inspiring to note that the servants did not go to invite the people, it is said, “They went to call the invited guests”, which means the invitation, is given by the king himself. Yes, God invited us to his banquet when he called us to existence. Time and again he sends his attendants through Sacraments, Divine Words, persons who come into our lives and daily events to remind us and guide us on our way to the banquet hall.

The Wedding Garment is a must

God the Father comes down each day with fresh invitation for everyone to his banquet. He makes no discrimination but calls the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the sinner, the sick and everyone is called to the wedding feast, provided they have the wedding garment. Wedding garment is provided freely to any one at the entrance of the wedding hall only they need to ask for, and put on the garment before entering the banquet hall.

We are asked to put on the spotless white garment; we were given on the day of our Baptism as the symbol of purity. At this juncture the king at the banquet asks us, to put on that holy dress made available in the Sacrament of Reconciliation in case we have lost it through human weakness and sins. Just as we see in the parable the king will not entertain any excuse or justification if we fail to put on purity of soul through Sacrament of reconciliation which is freely and generously dispensed by the Church.

God gives ample opportunities to regain the purity of soul or the wedding garment. Whoever postpones the Sacraments especially the Sacrament of reconciliation is keeping away the wedding garment and makes him or herself unworthy of enjoying the Heavenly Banquet. It is pity that the man without wedding garment did not answer to the king, he was silent. He could have made use of the last chance and pleaded for mercy and the merciful Father would have ordered his attendants to bless him with a fresh wedding garment. He failed to apologize even at the last moment and God would not let him enjoy the banquet.

Our call to present state of life is a call to participation in the wedding celebration, no matter if one leads married life, Priestly life or religious life. All are called and chosen to foretaste the heavenly banquet here on earth, provided we have the wedding garment with us. I’m sure, if we put on a spotless wedding garment, possess a stainless soul and cultivate noble virtues we are certain of the foretaste of the heavenly banquet here and now.

Many are called but few are chosen. We are certain of our call to the banquet, but are we chosen to enjoy the meal? It is good to introspect if I am with the wedding garment or not. Do I take care to maintain the purity of my soul, body and mind and be ready with the wedding garment?

Prayer: Heavenly Father we thank you for having invited us to the wedding feast of your Son. Grant us your grace also that we may be counted among the chosen ones to enjoy the heavenly banquet. Forgive us Father for having lost the wedding garment on our way to the wedding hall. Lord God, have mercy on our human weakness and failures and bless us once again with a pure soul that we may be found worthy of entering the wedding hall. Heavenly Father bless us with your holy spirit that we may be sensitive to sin and keep our souls away from sin and always be found dressed in wedding garments Amen.

– – – written by Sr. Mercy Pottokaran OSB

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