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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

July 12th, 2012

God Never Abandons Anyone

God Never Abandons Anyone

There is a possibility that we fall into despair when our prayers are un heard and our life situations remain unchanged. We may think that the Lord is not taking care of us and He is unaware of our troubles. We read in the book of Psalms; “The Lord has been mindful of us; he will bless us” (115:12).

Joseph of the Old Testament – A just man, Joseph of the Old Testament, looks like he is abandoned by God, when he is thrown into a pit and sold by his brothers. No one could think of God who rescues him, when he was falsely accused and imprisoned. When Joseph became the ruler of Egypt, we can see that the silence of God was from His great plan and care for him all through his life.

But Joseph might have gone through the real pain of isolation and judgment. Christ himself was crying on the cross over His father’s silence. It might have been for taking part in the pain of those abandoned and forlorn.

God never abandons anyone. But Satan tempts us interpreting our life situations to be one that abandoned by God. When our life faces troubles and we are in an adverse situation, remind ourselves;“God is mindful of me; He will bless me.” God never leaves us.

Cain was a murderer. But still the Lord printed a protective mark on Him. Will He not take care of us? In order to experience the care and love of God we should get rid of our complaints over human love and care.

Possess the firm conviction that God is enough for me. Let God Hold Your Hand.

Let us pray for this grace : Lord, when we pass through the pain of rejection and abandonment, fill us with strong faith in you. Let our problems never be an opportunity to suspect your great and unbound love. Amen.

– – – written by Benny Punnathara

June 30th, 2012

Why is Mary called The Ark of The Covenant?

Mary The Ark of The Covenant

Though many titles have been bestowed on the Blessed Mother, the one title that evolves itself as we journey from the Old testament to the New testament is – The Ark of the Covenant.

The Israelites held The Ark of the Covenant in high esteem. So sacred was it considered that the Lord God set up a separate tribe to carry it. Duetronomy 10:8 – “At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day.”

Of the many verses which tell us about the Ark of God’s covenant let us focus on what St. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews says about the Ark of the Covenant and the contents inside it. This is what he says in Hebrews chapter 9 verse 4. “Having the golden altar of incense and the Ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant”.

To sum up therefore the Ark of the covenant of the old testament was house to the manna that the Israelites were fed with in their days of wandering in the desert apart from Aaron’s rod and the tables (the book of laws) of the covenant.

Why is Mary the Ark of New Covenant?

When we recite the litany of Our Lady we acknowledge the Mother as being the Ark of the Covenant. Why is this so? The manna, Aaron’s rod and the tables of the covenant all point to a single person and that is Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is (a) the Bread of life that came down from heaven, (b) the High Priest who offered his holy blood for the atonement of the sins of humankind and (c) the fulfilment of all the laws. Therefore the Blessed Mother who carried Jesus in her womb is the Ark of God’s New Covenant with mankind, the covenant which is sealed with the blood of Christ.

Verses showing Mary as the Ark of Covenant

Some verses which support the claim that the Blessed Virgin Mother is indeed the Ark of the New Covenant are 2 Chronicles 6 :41 and Psalms 132:8 “And now arise, O LORD God, and go to thy resting place, thou and the Ark of thy might.” These verses clearly indicate how Jesus the Son of God and the Son of Mary would honour his mother – the Ark. He intended to honour her by taking her to heaven in much the same way as he himself went. Another verse that supports this claim is the Revelation given to St. John the Apostle whom the Mother adopted as her son at the foot of the Cross.

Revelations 11:19 “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the Ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.” Since the Ark of the Covenant was a sign and a very important one at that, Revelations 12:1 “ And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, refers to the Ark of the Covenant and the 12 tribes of Israel.

Joshua 4: 9 reveals an incident which when read along with verses from the Acts shows us the connection between the Mother and the Ark of the Covenant “ And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the covenant had stood.” Acts 1: 13-14 “And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.

All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus. Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place”.Now we all know that when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan the Father let the Holy Spirit descend on him.Therefore the Jordan in the verse above symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit and when does the Holy Spirit descend? when the twelve priests and the Ark of the covenant are together. i.e. when the twelve apostles and the Blessed Mother are together.

Read Mary’s Faith: A Model For The Church

The Bible shows us two distinct sets of people and their experiences concerning the Ark of the Covenant . 1 Samuel 3:3-4:- The lamp of God had not yet gone and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the Ark of God was . 4. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” 2 Samuel 6:12 It was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of O’bed’dom and all that belongs to him because of the Ark of God.”

The above passages from the old testament testify the fact that God blessed all those who were in close proximity to the Ark of the Covenant and revered it. When we meditate on the glorious mysteries of the Rosary we meditate on the Pentecost. The message conveyed by the Pentecost is very simple – all those who maintain close proximity with the Blessed Mother and revere her will be blessed.

Punishment for disrespecting The Ark of Covenant

Now let us examine what happened to those who dealt disrespectfully with the Ark of God. 1 Samuel 5:1-2,6. When the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the Ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the people of Ashdod and he terrified and struck them with tumors, both in Ashdod and in its territory.

Here Dagon the God of the Philistines symbolizes Satan. If God were to deal so severely with people who dared to capture and place his Ark (made of earthly materials) alongside the unholy Dagon and thereby insult it, how much more severely would he deal with those who dare to insult the Blessed Mother (The Ark of the New Covenant) made by him in his own image and likeness and chosen to be a part of the divine plan of redemption.

1 Samuel 5:4 makes interesting reading “But when they rose early on the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the Ark of the Lord and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.If Satan is not able to stand his ground against the Ark of the Old Covenant how much more will his feet not stagger in the presence of the Ark of the New Covenant.

The Blessed Virgin Mother has been given to us as a powerful advocate against Satan. She is someone before whom the power and weapons of Satan pale. Let us seek her assistance sincerely in our fight against the enemy, for she has been given to us as help and protection against the forces of evil.

– – – written by Lajan Miranda

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