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August 23rd, 2012

Rolling Away The Stone For A New Life

Rolling Away The Stone For A New Life

Death is a matter of three days for those who are in Jesus.

Suddenly there was a violent earth quake, an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away and sat on it” (Mt.28:2).

The Energy of Resurrection

Resurrection is the blessed reminder that, even when things seem hopeless, when all appears to be lost, there is still hope. Resurrection is the energy of the holy, as it is nurtured in human experience. This energy cannot be confined to a tomb or narrated in a single story, but is a lived experience.

The energy of resurrection is like a sacred earthquake that shakes the foundations of doubt and leads to faith in the risen Lord. It bursts forth in our lives when ever stones of fear and doubt are rolled away. New life can emerge with resurrection energy, if we roll away stones that would imprison our hope, faith and love. This is the foundation of our faith: “The Lord is risen indeed!”

In life we undergo innumerable little deaths: losing our reputation and expectation, losing dear and near ones, losing our having and being, collapsing our plans and projects, sickness and loneliness etc.; but we are called to rise from these little deaths. God calls us to resurrection each and every day, with new strength and vigor. Resurrection is a reality that cannot be taught, but is a unique and personal experience. It is possible only through an act of total surrender in love, faith and hope. Let’s make a total surrender to Jesus and experience resurrection from all kinds of deaths and imprisonment.

“Very early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices to anoint Jesus. They had been saying to one another, who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”(Mt.28:1-2). The stone was too big for women to roll away, but they had trusted the words of Abraham – the Father of faith, who said, “God himself will provide”. Having belonged to the weaker sections of the society, they had arrived at the tomb without men, which showed their trust in God’s assistance and providence in their genuine need.

Who will roll away the stone for us?

God who knows their heaviness of hearts because of the cruel death of their beloved, heard their silent prayer and sent down an angel to roll away the stone. It is fitting to note that the angel came down from heaven rolled away the stone and sat on it. The angel sitting on the stone means two things: primarily, that heaven (God) is involved in the matter and is worthy to be believed, secondly, Christ’s triumph over death, that he conquered death for ever, he could no longer remain in the tomb and now reigns as the living God.

Who will roll away the stone for us? God himself sends angels for us time to time to roll away the stones which stand like mountains before us. The stones appear in many forms in our lives. The struggles of life, sickness, burden of sins, loneliness, poverty, failures, injustice and having deprived of rights etc. At times they appear in our lives as huge stones too heavy to roll away. If we take a flash look at our past we can know the times and occasions when God sent down angels to roll back the stones stood like mountains impossible to move by ourselves. While the angels were disguised and appeared in human form, we might have failed to recognize them as angels sent by God.

Who will roll away the stone for us? Our God is a living God who hears the cry of His children and sends angels to rescue us, as He sent an angel along with Jacob when he was in danger. In gratitude for God’s generosity in sending angels, we need to help him in turn in finding angels to send for our brothers and sisters who cry out to him for help to roll away the stones by which they are enslaved in.

When the stones are rolled away a new life is gained and we become resurrected people and begin to sing Halleluia. May the celebration of Easter enable us to live as resurrected people and roll away the stones from other’s lives which have entombed them.

– – – written by Sr.Mercy Pottokaran OSB, Bhopal

July 4th, 2011

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?

Jesus rise from the dead

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?

A human being cannot rise himself from death. Jesus rose again, because He is God, the author of life.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ has been a subject of debate in non Christian circles in the past. Strong and rich Jewish leaders spent money to propagate that the disciples had stolen the body from the grave and were telling lies about the resurrection. Even in the Bible we read that a stone was rolled over the grave as the Jews doubted some fraud. The Muslims too argue against the resurrection.

If Jesus had not risen from the dead, what would happen? The Church in the world will become irrelevant. The religious societies based on chastity and poverty and the missionary works will become meaningless and cheating. If Jesus did not rise, the Gospel proclamation will be rendered meaningless. Bible and its teachings become baseless. Churches will become empty; prayers will cease to be said. The foundation of the 2000 years old Christian civilization will crash. There will be confusion and darkness everywhere. The resurrection of Jesus is the base for the world’s morality and expectations and values. The secret of Christian life is His resurrection. The response for the Cross will no more exist. It will become a piece of cheap wood.

“The World in Darkness” is a cinema. In it they show an archeologist making investigation near Calvary. He one day announced that he found a tomb where Jesus was buried and an undecomposed dead body in it. He exhibited the body covered with cloth and perfumes as a proof. The world received this shocking news. Many though with sorrow, left the faith. Priests and nuns came out in groups and left their churches and convents. In many places Bibles and Crucifixes were burnt. Heaven and hell became superstitions. The world plunged into darkness, morality and values are lost. By the time the archeologist became old and was ill in bed. He from his deathbed announced his mistake “The tomb of Jesus was empty. The exhibited body was one stolen from another tomb.”

The story clearly depicts the status or place of resurrection in the history of the world. It is not the empty tomb that is the great proof of His resurrection. After 2000 years of the event, it is not wise to show the empty tomb as a proof.

Jesus who died on the cross and was buried, appeared to those who were alive is the real proof. Not once but many times, in many places, before many. He had even appeared to Saul who was eagerly working for the destruction of the followers. Their later life revealed that their experience was neither a dream nor a vision. No one will place his life for death, if it was a woven story by them. All his disciples who preached Jesus after his death and resurrection sacrificed their lives for their teacher and their God.

James was put to death with the sword(Acts 12:2). Philip lost his life at the age of 87. He was crucified upside down, like Peter, in Hierapolis during a persecution of Domitian. Mathew was killed by the sword in A.D. 60 in Parthia. James the minor might have been killed in the persecution of Christians in the year 62. Mathias who was Judah’s replacement was, according to some traditions, stoned to death by a crowd of Jews around A.D. 51. Andrews was hung on a cross on the shores of Gulf of Patrae in Greece. Peter was crucified in Rome. Paul was beheaded in A.D. 72.

Simon and Juda Thaddeus were stoned by a crowd. Jude was killed with a spear and Simon was sown into pieces, according to legend, Thomas was stabbed in Mylapore, India. John was said to have been put in boiling oil by Emperor Domitian, but escaped unhurt.Then he was sent to Patmos island. According to a legend, John asked his disciples to dig his grave and to carry him to his grave. At the grave he wished them peace and died. Bartholomew incurred the wrath of the king and was skinned alive in A.D. 62. All these disciples stood testimony through their martyrdom as proof of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
Jesus is the only one who is alive even after death and comes into the life of the people.

Sadhu Sunder Singh said he had seen Jesus in a vision and it changed him. He went about preaching Jesus.When we believe in Jesus, when we believe that Jesus is real and the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, when we believe that Jesus is with us, why fear a storyteller or any strong trend of hatred towards Christianity that is unleashed by the power of darkness?

Does anyone really think that all those martyrs who knew Jesus, who witnessed everything concerning him, went to their deaths without knowing the truth and having real faith in him. He told us, “And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Let us therefore rejoice and continue our journey.

– – – written by K. C. Thomas

April 11th, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday

(Divine Mercy Image © Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, MA 01263.

Divine Mercy Sunday – This Feast of Mercy is celebrated on the First Sunday after Easter. The Feast of Mercy has an important place among all of the elements of devotion to The Divine Mercy requested by our Lord through Sr. Faustina Kowalska. The Lord made 14 revelations concerning the desired feast.

In fact, Jesus Himself dictated the intentions for each day of the novena which he desired to be celebrated as a preparation for the solemn observance of this feast. Once after insisting, “Do all you possibly can for this work of mercy,” Jesus added: “My Heart rejoices on account of this feast.” Sister Faustina concluded: “After these words, I understood that nothing can dispense me from the obligation which the Lord demands of me”.

The “First Sunday after Easter” ‑ which is designated in “The Liturgy of the Hours and the Celebration of the Eucharist” as the “Octave Day of Easter” ‑ was officially called the Second Sunday of Easter after the liturgical reform of Vatican II. Now, by the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the name of this liturgical day has been changed to: “Second Sunday of Easter, or of Divine Mercy.”

Pope John Paul II made the surprise announcement of this change in his homily at the canonization of Sr. Faustina on April 30, 2000. There, he declared: “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’

By the words “the whole message,” the Holy Father was referring to the strict connection between the “Easter Mystery of the Redemption” ‑ the suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, followed by the sending of the Holy Spirit ‑ and this Feast of Divine Mercy, the Octave Day of Easter.

By what the Holy Father continued to say, it becomes clear why Jesus insisted that the sacred image of Himself as The Divine Mercy is to be venerated throughout the world in connection with the observance of this Sunday (see Diary, 49, 88, 299, 341, 570, 742). The Holy Father said: “Before speaking these words, Jesus shows His hands and His side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in His Heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity.

“From that Heart, Sr. Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that Heart and illuminating the world: ‘The two rays,’ Jesus Himself explained to her one day, ‘represent blood and water’ (Diary,299).

“Blood and water! We immediately think of the testimony given by the Evangelist John, who, when a soldier on Calvary pierced Christ’s side with his spear, sees blood and water flowing from it. Moreover, if the blood recalls the sacrifice of the Cross and the gift of the Eucharist, the water, in Johannine symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 3:5; 4:14; 7:37‑39).

Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the Heart of Christ crucified: ‘Tell, My daughter, that I am Love and Mercy itself Jesus will ask of Sr. Faustina. Christ pours out this mercy on humanity through the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person‑Love. And is not mercy love’s ‘second name’, understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its most immense capacity for forgiveness?”

Our Lord’s words to Saint Faustina about this requirement to be merciful are very strong and leave no room for misinterpretation:

“Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy … I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it”.

To fittingly observe the Feast of Mercy, we should:-

1. Celebrate the Feast on the Sunday after Easter;

2. Sincerely repent of all our sins;

3. Place our complete trust in Jesus;

4. Go to Confession, preferably before that Sunday;

5. Receive Holy Communion on the day of the Feast;

6. Venerate the Image of The Divine Mercy;

7. Be merciful to others, through our actions, words, and prayers on their behalf.

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