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February 8th, 2013

Give Me Childlike Simplicity And Purity Of Faith

Give Me Childlike Simplicity

Practicing virtue without humility is like carrying dust against wind.

In the Gospel according to St. Mathew 11:25-27, Jesus thanks the Father in heaven for revealing to his disciples the wisdom and knowledge of God. Jesus’ prayer tells us that God is both Father and Lord of earth as well as heaven. He is both Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and at the same time, goodness and loving care for all his children.

Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us away from the love and knowledge of God. Pride is the inordinate love of oneself at the expense of others and the exaggerated estimation of one’s own learning and importance. Intellectual pride, coldness of heart, and stubbornness of will shut out God and his kingdom. Pride is the root of all vice and the strongest influence propelling us to sin. It first vanquishes the heart, making it cold and indifferent towards God. It also closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives.

Jesus contrasts intellectual pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are like “little children” in the sense that they see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in the one who is greater, wiser, and more trustworthy. They seek one thing — the “summum bonum” or “greatest good” who is God himself. Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility, the queen of virtues, because humility inclines the heart towards grace and truth.

St. Teresa of Avila tells us that she obtained her greatest graces whenever she humbled herself the most. Just as pride is the root of every sin and evil, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root. It alone takes the right attitude before God and allows him as God to do all. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6). Only the humble in heart can receive true wisdom and understanding of God and his ways. We can have no virtue without humility. Practising virtue without humility is like carrying dust against the wind. It will all blow away.

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector

We see it in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector. The Pharisee did many good things: he fasted twice in a week; he gave one tenth of his income to the temple. But he ruined all these with his pride. The Tax-collector did many evil things. But he was forgiven for all these and made right with God because of his humble prayer.

In this prayer, Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make: He is the perfect revelation of God. One of the greatest truths of the Christian faith is that we can know the living God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally.

In Jesus we see the perfect love of God

The essence of Christianity, and what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions, is the knowledge of God as our Father. Jesus makes it possible for each of us personally to know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like.

In Jesus we see the perfect love of God — a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross. Jesus is the revelation of God — a God who loves us completely, unconditionally and perfectly. Jesus also promises that God the Father will hear our prayers when we pray in his name. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray with confidence, Our Father who art in heaven .. .. give us this day our daily bread. Do we pray to our Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his love and care for us?

Today, Jesus invites us to learn humility from him. He says: “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” It is especially from his Passion that we learn humility. Scourged at the pillar, crowned with thorns, mocked, spat upon, and finally nailed to the cross, he died on that infamous gallows. It was to cure us of our pride. How can we look at Jesus crucified and still be proud?

Let us often look at the Crucifix and say: “Jesus meek and humble of heart, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.”

– – – written by Fr. Vincent Korandiarkunnel OSB

February 1st, 2013

Why I Love Charismatic People

Why I Love Charismatic People

Samuel, the pastor was a known figure active in all seasons, whether hot sunshine or heavy rain. He had an arch handled umbrella and very old, worn out Jubbah. He would be carrying an old Bible always in his hands. He wouldn’t mind whether it is a boy, young man or old people; his method was to start preaching the Gospel right away.

Many would change their way in order not to confront the pastor. He would never leave anyone empty handed ones came up on his way. The real fact was that I couldn’t always reach school without facing Samuel. Our land was predominantly Syro Malabar rite; strong catholic belief was deep rooted in the blood of people who claimed to receive faith directly from St. Thomas the Apostle. Here, Samuel the pastor was a real ‘surplus’.

Reasons were two; he had been a member of the low caste; in the language of the government – a converted Christian. As such the pastor’s place was much the scapegoat against the rich heritage of the people of the land. The other reason was that he had nothing to speak pleasing the thoughts of the strong Catholics.

The boy of the fourth standard was amazed at the heavy flowing river in the village. There was no other way except to cross the river. I had been always slow in walking, then and now. It is the custom that the slow ones become last on their journey. That was the case on the day.

As I was trying to put my step into the water, catching hold of my bag… suddenly there was someone with powerful hands to catch me from behind. When I turned, it was Samuel, the pastor. Without saying a word, he took me on his shoulders and put his steps into the river. Yes, even he was finding it hard to cross the river which was flowing heavily. He followed me a while even after the river. Then too he was silent. It was the first time I see him not speaking a word.

It was the time when there was heavy rain and flood all over. I am sure that if I had stepped into water that day, I would never be on earth to pen these lines (I see your face in smile, had it happened? Isn’t it) Slowly Samuel was evading from our land. Sometimes it was because I couldn’t see him as I grew older and moved to higher classes.

Baiju made me remember Samuel, the pastor after almost thirty years. He is a friend of mine from Nottingham. I knew him ever since I reached Nottingham University for studies. Baiju telephoned me one of these evenings… ‘Praise the Lord, Brother Santimon…’ I replied, ‘Praise the Lord.’ ‘I heard that you became a pastor, is it true.’ He enquired. I got the point. A small prayer group in London had found me as a preacher, as they didn’t get anyone else. Coming back from prayer meeting I received his call.

For sure, I remembered Samuel, the pastor; His worn out old dress, Bible and heavy filled river. There was a period in my life that I claimed Charismatic men are to be stoned to death. A time when I believed that all those who work miracles in the “name of God” are hypocrites. Period when I philosophically analyzed that healings were mere psycho somatic relieves.

Don’t you remember that age old drama of revolution; ‘You made me a communist…’ I just make it new… ‘You made me a charismatic…’

I cannot forget a day in November, six years back; days when I had been carrying within me a cloud of sorrows. Many faces were of love and concern amidst the few ready to devour me. I came to know that with such so called reliability, gossips can be spread easily. Many of us write our own stories as we like, once we get a character in our play. No hunter sends the arrow after consulting the prey, does he? Most probable point would be the most unnoticed.

True. I had nothing to rely on except the Bible – that book which I put aside as a boring text for years. That was an English Bible. When I opened it, these words struck me first; “The mountains and hills may crumble, but my steadfast love for you will never end…” (Is. 54:10).

An experienced smith changes the shape of the weapon putting it under fire. Yes, this is less sharp, my dear friend. I would be more and more conscious that this weapon shouldn’t hurt anyone.

There are stars as well as black holes in Charismatic field. We are consoled that there are more stars than the black holes. It is this consolation that makes us believe more and more in the goodness of men.

– – – written by Santhimon Jacob

January 13th, 2013

God Never Wants Us To Slog

God Never Wants Us To Slog

Is it really true? We always think that God wants us to work hard. But I do disagree. It is not. God’s ways are always cool. He never wants us to slog.

We never see a bird slogging from morning till evening, getting anxious searching for its food. We never see a plant struggling hard to bear a fruit. We never see rain straining hard to downpour. We never see any animals getting worried about its future and planning so deeply to secure its life. We never see the celestial bodies striving hard to shed light. If we look at the nature we can see that except the human beings, all creation of God exist peacefully and silently to glorify the Lord of creations. They are never restless and in a hurry to achieve something. They do what they are created for. “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (Isaiah 1:3).

The other day I was talking to my teenage niece. She was quite anxious and worried about her forthcoming exams and about her future in cracking entrance exams and all. I told her “you just don’t worry about the results; just finish what you have to study today…forget the rest”. But she was not happy with my suggestion. She started saying “aunty you can tell like that. You don’t know what all are the trials I face in school and in my classes. Even if I don’t aspire for clearing engineering entrance exam, my friends are not going to spare me. If I don’t get good marks they will treat me like dirt as if I don’t know anything. More than getting an admission it’s a question of acceptance in the class.”

I have plans for your welfare

I would like to share one incidence of a person whom I know. She is the elder child of a family of very devout and pious parents. Ever since childhood she wanted to become a doctor though her parents were not very keen about it because of two reasons. The first reason is that she was not a brilliant child and the second reason is that it was one of the toughest to get admission even for the very brilliant students. However they did not discourage her.

But her mother continuously prayed for her attending all night vigils. She never prayed that her child should get admission for a medical entrance, but prayed to safeguard her from all illness so that she can perform well in her exams. Though she had joined for a coaching class for medical entrance, they left the course half way due to some internal matters. So she was not even attending any coaching classes which are a sure sign for not getting admission for a medical college as per the prevailing notion. However she was doing her self study quietly without compromising her Sunday Mass.

Anyway quite contrary to her mother’s prayers she developed fever just a month before her board exams which led to some complications. With great difficulty she could finish her board exam. Her fever was troubling her intermittently. Then came the turn of entrance exams. In the middle of her exam all the family members contracted chicken pox. Her parents were anxious and wondered why God is testing so much. However they kept on praying Psalm 23 putting their complete trust in the One who keeps promises.

To every body’s amazement the girl scored 92 % board result which is the second highest in her class which she never got in any of her classes since LKG to 12th. Moreover she cleared the entrance exam of a prestigious medical college.

Beaming with the trust and confidence in the Word of God, her mother says, ‘God wanted my daughter to become a doctor. Though He tested my faith at the time of her exams making her sick, He literally walked with us through the valley tears. The verse of Jeremiah that “I have plans not for your destruction but for your welfare” literally fulfilled in our lives.’ He can produce water from rock, He can divide oceans to make way for you, He can multiply 5 loves to feed thousands, He can feed you from skies, if He wants. He will do it for us when we surrender completely, when we put our complete trust in Him.

It is not by slogging 24×7, even forgetting to eat, drink and worship the Lord of the Universe, that we will be able to crack the toughest entrance exams. But by abiding the commandments of God, He goes ahead of us to set path and give us victory. Let the goal of our life be to fulfill the Will of God. It is always far better than what we can ever imagine. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:11).

He never told us to slog. If it was needed, He would not have told us the verse.”Work must be done for six days, but the seventh must be a holy day for you, a day of complete rest, in honour of Yahweh.” (Exodus 35:2). His ways are always cool. He wants us to rest and be with Him. He tells “Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well” (Mat 6:33). Jesus tells if you are connected to the wine you will produce many fruits. If not, even if you work unceasingly, you may not be able to crack any exam.

I told my niece “so my child get up and just do what you have to do today and surrender all your dreams and goals of life in the powerful hands of the Lord at whose command the whole Universe dances. Relax all Sundays; spend time with the Lord of the Universe. It revitalizes your spiritual, emotional and mental faculties. Work all other days cheerfully and enthusiastically. The success will be yours.” Yes, God’s ways are always cool for those who trust Him.

– – – written by Mary Joseph, Faridabad

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