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July 4th, 2015

My Words Are Spirit And Life

My words are spirit and life

“My words are spirit and life” [John 6:63] But how to read the Bible?

Bible can be understood in three frames, rather three levels. Information, Knowledge and Wisdom.

Let us take an example. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, when asked “Who is my neighbour?” the instantaneous reply would be “the good Samaritan”. There we also come to know of the many characters like:
1. Traveller
2. Robbers
3. Priest
4. Levite
5. Good Samaritan

Information (Senses)

When we read the Bible with our senses like eyes, ears etc; When we read and re-read again and again, even memorizing and we recall the story to many, we are actually just hitting vanity, surfing the surface, doing a study, browsing everywhere, as we do with any other text-book. We are gaining information.

Knowledge (Mind)

“Some (with knowledge) have missed the mark as regards the faith” [1 Timothy 6:21]

When we read the Bible from the mind, we tend to ask questions like: Where is Samaria? What kind of bandits? Who is a Levite? What is the work of a Priest? How costly is a stay in the inn?

We do research spending all the time and even our whole life just like those ‘cerebral theologians’ to get updates. Still our endeavor is futile, beating round the bush, we have not come anywhere near the purpose of this magnificent book “GOSPEL”, the good news of salvation. We are gaining only empty knowledge, degrees, awards and rewards too.

Wisdom (Soul, Heart, Spirit)

“But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” [Luke 2:19]

We must do exactly what Mother Mary did. First be filled with the Holy spirit like Mary, read the Bible from the Heart; the seat of Love, the seat of compassion, the seat of GOD Almighty. Be silent and meditate in-depth. Let the word of God permeate every cell, spirit, soul and every tissue in your body.

And then see what happens. So many mysteries will unveil. Who is my neighbour? Surely the good Samaritan. Sure? Are you so sure? If so, you are in the I or II level.

Look deeper into The Good Samaritan Parable

1. This parable is your life journey in this world.

2. Every person we meet, however good or bad they are to us, is our neighbour. “Love your enemies, do good, bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you” [Luke 6:27-28]

3. We must love all of them equally, be it a robber, a priest or a Samaritan. They are all characters in your life put by God himself to make you fit for eternal life.

4. Everybody sees “Jesus in the Good Samaritan”, but “Jesus is actually the traveller” who was beaten. The priests are the Apostles who ran away, the Levites are his disciples to be found nowhere, the robbers are the soldiers who beat and plundered his garments. The good people like Mary, Veronica, Simon and Mary Magdalene who took part in his agony are the Samaritans.

5. High up on the cross the same Jesus says “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34] for He understood their role in his life and mission.

Thus reading the Bible like a text says the good Samaritan is the neighbour, but with wisdom filled and guided by the Holy spirit, we conclude every human being we meet, put in our life with a plan and purpose for our prosperity which only God can understand, is our neighbour.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and
my thoughts than your thought” [Isaiah 55:9]

The word of God is full of life, full of truth, a real story of unfathomable love. One drop is greater than the deepest ocean. Amen.

How To Read The Bible

Prayer Before Reading The Bible

New International Version NIV Bible PDF

– – – written by Cecilia Francis

December 4th, 2012

Is It Possible To Pray Always?

Pray Always

A Church in England; the priests of the nearby parishes are summoned for a priestly gathering, prayer, sharing and reflection. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17) – it was the subject of their talk.

How could one pray without ceasing? As we are engaged in many responsibilities, is it possible to pray always? How come we are able to perform our duties well, while always in prayer?

The discussion grew serious on the subject. At last the president of the meeting, an old learned priest concluded; “this subject is very complicated and confusing. So let us submit these issues as a thesis in the next meeting. Basing on that we will continue our discussion…”

Hearing this, the woman who had been serving the tea exclaimed; “Oh my God… why another meeting to understand the meaning of this Word of God? How simple is the advice of St. Paul?”

“If it is too simple, explain to us the meaning;” said the priest.

She responded with calmness; “How long had I been praying without ceasing. As I open my eyes in the morning, I would thank the Lord for the good day. Seeing the Sun rising, I would pray, Jesus, Sun of justice, rise in the sky of my heart. When I take the tea, I would pray, come Holy Spirit and quench the thirst of my soul. As I clean the room, I will pray for sanctification in my life. As I cook the food I will remember my Lord becoming bread and wine for me. Seeing my children I would reflect that we are the children of God and contemplate on His providence. The vision of river, plants and streams make me think of the greatness of God who created them. What I do and what I see are prayers for me.”

As they heard this, they thanked the Lord that these mysteries are hidden from the wise and revealed to the simple.

There may be many who studied a lot on prayer and consumed their life without sincerely praying at least once in life. Though we have many commentaries and dictionaries of Bible in our shelf, we may not find it serious to reflect on the Word of God.

We have many notebooks and piece of papers filled with thoughts and reflections which we have accumulated through years. Without putting them into practice, we are running after new ones. New books, new CDs and new meditation techniques… When are we going to live them? Is our life a failure in our pursuit after the intoxicating effect of knowledge without recognizing the flaw of our souls? Do not forget the old notes while going to attend the new retreats.

Do not forget the old striking Words marked in your Bible and go in search of the new ones. God will bless you.

Prayer: Lord, deliver us from the intoxicating effect of knowledge, grant us the wisdom to put into practice what we have already acquired. Amen.

– – – written by Benny Punnathara

March 16th, 2012

Scripture : The Word of God

Scripture the word of God

This short article is a result of the fact that of late I have been coming across two frequently asked questions from various circles, both lay as well as religious. The questions put forward concern both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.

The First Question

The first question is that, “Are all the stories that are there in the Old Testament true?” The last occasion when I heard this question being asked was in the context of the story of Lot’s wife who against the instruction of the angel of the Lord turned back to look at Sodom and was turned into a pillar of salt (cf. Gen 19).

Surely the Bible is the Word of God for us Christians, but at the same time we need to know and understand it well that the words of the Bible were not ever dictated by God to any human being for it to be written down (except for a few exceptions as stated in Jer 30,1-2). It is the collection of the concrete Divine experience of humankind in human history.

The Bible is an “inspired” writting by humans who have lived this Divine experience in their lives and penned down their concrete Divine-human experiences to help their fellow human beings to live their lives, their difficulties, their pains and share their joy with others with the view of living it all in the context of the Divine. The words and stories of the Bible are true in their essence in that they speak of our human limitations and our frailty before the Divine, and they propel us to move ahead in our journey towards a life in God, a life in His perfection.

In a post-exilic era (after the final Babylonian exile of 586 B.C) when war and foreign rule had destroyed the land and identity of the land of Judah because of disobedience to God, only looking back at the sin would render people static like pillars of salt. Instead they had to move ahead with their lives in a foreign land and carry on their life and rebuild it both individually as well as a community, but, in the ways of God’s commands.

True to its essence, the Catholic Church accepts it as its Holy Book and all its doctrines are based on the words of the Bible. But it also accepts the Bible as an inspired Book in the sense I have just mentioned. The 11th of the total 16 Documents of the Second Vatican Council is the DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION, ON DIVINE REVELATION DEI VERBUM SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON NOVEMBER 18, 1965, and §8 begins: And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time.

Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (see 2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3) Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the people of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes. The official doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Church are a guide to our Christian faith which is to be personalized and interposed with the aim of living a life in God both for ourselves as well as to help others live it the same way.

The Second Question

The second question regarding the New Testament that I came across was through a mail challenging me that the words of the Bible which are proclaimed to be Word of God are not true. The Bible proclaims in John 14,14 “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it,” and in Mat 7,7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds and to whom knocks it will be opened,” but if these words are true then “Why are my prayers not being answered? I am not asking God for anything impossible, I am only asking Him to heal me.”

My response to this has been – true, nothing is impossible for God. He can work any miracle any moment to heal one of any kind of sickness. But the counter question I put forward to myself in such cases is that am I worthy that God works such a miracle for me in my life? Put differently, have I asked God to grant me this favour with a total self-surrendering faith in Him saying that, “Lord I surrender to you and to you alone, you are my maker, my creator and my sustainer. Where would I have been if you did not carry me in your arms in my moments of my pain and anguish when I have shed painful tears in isolation which you alone have seen?”

The lines when picked up from the Bible at random and asked as to why this is not being fulfilled because it is said to be the Word of God is not directed to the proper understanding of the Scripture. Each verse is connected to its preceding and following context. Each Gospel has its particular literary structure and forms. Each of these sayings have their context wherein lies the conditions of the fulfilment of the promises.

As far as the humanity of Jesus is concerned, we know for sure that He was a man extremely learned in the Torah and was teaching the true essence of the Torah to the people and helping them to live a better life in God: both by spiritual as well as by material healing. He was not a simple miracle worker, but worked miracles by His own faith as well as through the faith of those who accosted Him. Time and again we find the saying, “Go your faith has healed you,” especially in the Gospel of Luke. And this is the essence of all miracles.

Surely we can be healed of all ailments, both physical as well as spiritual, but our healing will depend on us and our self-surrendering faith in God and not the miracle of God alone. It is this self-surrendering faith in God that will make us worthy that God works the miracle that we desire for in life. A complete surrender to God is not an easy task. After all these years it is only recently that I have learnt how to pray with complete surrender to Him through the vicissitudes of life experiences. In turn agin it is He who gives the Grace to surrender to Him through constant faith and prayer.

– – – written by Ruma Ray, Kolkotta

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