I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26)

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WHY ARE YOU WEEPING?

Fr. Sunil v.c

“Mary (Magdalene) stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb,……The angels said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’” (John.20:11). She has been weeping from that Friday because they crucified & killed their Lord & Master and, because she ardently loved JESUS, who forgave her sins granting her a new life. She has been weeping because she was unable to bear the pain of separation and absence of her Savior. But here Mary is weeping also about the missing body of JESUS. All the while she’s been weeping and yet seeking the Lord. The separation and silence of her LORD do not stop her from seeking Him. Her heart was earnestly seeking JESUS, and so finally finds Him. “Jesus said, ‘…whom are you looking for.’”(Jn.20:15). She becomes the first among all the disciples to see & witness JESUS closely in a tangible way. Her time of weeping comes to an end. She was a desperate seeker who found the Risen CHRIST. To those who seek Him with a sincere heart, HE shows Himself. GOD reveals Himself to them in surprising yet loving ways. Mary Magdalene is a powerful model of a disciple, who loves GOD when HE seems distant. The holy saints of GOD tried doing just that in their lives. St.John of the Cross refers to ‘the dark night of the soul’, after he had gone through several months of doubt, spiritual dryness and separation from GOD. ‘If things go well, let us rejoice, blessing God, who makes them prosper. And if they go wrong? Let’s rejoice, blessing GOD, who allows us to share the sweetness of His Cross.’(Josemaría Escrivá).

The disciples were sad about the tragic death of JESUS, but failed to seek HIM. They were shocked, deeply distressed and gripped with fear. Even upon witnessing the empty tomb they remained in confusion and despair, “for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that He must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.”(Jn.20:9,10). Everything that GOD has allowed or permitted to happen is crystal clear in His sight and has a perfect meaning. Many Christians live confused lives of despair because they do not open their hearts and minds to GOD’s revelation. They are sad, discouraged and angry. Many weep inwardly and allow the weight of their grief to crush them. They are weeping without seeking. Are you one among them.? When we do not understand God’s revelation, we are knocked down by tragedy and feel defeated by life. But we need to know fully that GOD is constantly speaking to us in every life-situation, because HE cares for us. As JESUS endured His darkest moment, He sought to do His FATHER’s Will. Every tear or cry ought to be a part of our ‘seeking the Lord’. “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’”(Jn.20:15)

Blessed Julian of Norwich, the gentle English mystic and anchoress wrote: “Though we are in such pain, trouble and distress, that it seems to us that we are unable to think of anything except how we are and what we feel, yet as soon as we may, we are to pass lightly over it, and count it as nothing. And why? Because GOD wills that we should understand that if we know Him and love Him and reverently fear Him, we shall rest and be at peace. And we shall rejoice in all that he does.”

BEWARE OF SUBTLE COMPROMISES

Fr. Sunil v.c

The Song of Solomon(or as it is often called ‘Song of Songs’) has an interesting verse in the 2nd chapter. ‘Capite nobis Vulpes parvulas, quae demoliuntur veneas’—“Catch us… the little foxes, that ruin the vineyards…”.(Song.2:15). Solomon’s song, in general, contains a variety of imagery. Betwixt romantic and intriguing descriptions, we come across a beautiful vineyard in early spring. “Vineyards in blossom”(2:15) give us a beautiful picture of the tender grapes hanging on the vines. But the captivating vines seem to be under threat from the little foxes that are drawn to those tender grapes. Hence the plea, ‘capture the little foxes’. It seems to be an urgent cry to save the large and beautiful vineyards. St.Josemaria Escriva makes a spiritual application of this verse to the ‘little sins’ or ‘venial sins’ in a person’s life that undermine his/her love for GOD and commitment to His Kingdom. The Holy men and women of God constantly remind us that Venial sins do great harm to the soul. Every sin is a result of a compromising attitude. And venial sins are a result of subtle compromises. Many committed and dedicated Christians take every effort to avoid mortal sins with a desire to be saved and attain Eternal Life, but are not worried about the deliberate falling into venial sins. Remember to ‘capture the little foxes’. Do we realize our compromising attitude (in your spiritual life) has been very disturbing to GOD.

C.S.Lewis wrote: ‘The safest road to hell is a gradual one—the gentle slope, one that is soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts’.(The Screwtape Letters). It’s sad to see Christians rationalize their compromising attitude towards the world. With a good intention to promote unity and express solidarity, many Christians have often compromised with the world. Our healthy connections with unbelievers ought to carry a Christian witnessing value. We must not give into the temptation of compromising our Christian standards at any cost. Do we recognize the subtle sin of compromise in our daily lives.? Do we realise we offend the Lord and make Him feel sad when we are not sorry for our venial sins.?

Subtle compromises could also show up as one gets trapped in today’s achievement-culture, neglecting the importance of thanking GOD, the Provider. For parents, kids & teens, academics, sports, music/dance become more important in life than Sunday Mass, CCD, practising a Virtuous Life, learning moral Christian Values and Prayer. The Compromises that lie behind embracing a consumeristic lifestyle have led to an ever-growing discontentment in the lives of God’s chosen people. Desiring for coziness and comfort zones, instead of fighting them and the laziness that comes with it, is another sign. Lack of a regular prayer-time, individually and in the family, is an open door to other compromises. We don’t seem to pause and pray to GOD’s purpose and plan before taking decisions in life. Foolishly and conveniently we tell ourselves, ‘Oh.! It’s a little/trivial matter’, and allow the ‘foxes’ to destroy the vines. “but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the Word and it yields nothing.”(Mk.4:19).

Prayer: ‘Lord, we’re sorry for having ignored the little-important things in life and for having offended Thee through our subtle compromises. Grant us the Wisdom to discern between the spiritual and the carnal. Amen.

A HOPEFUL LAMENT

Fr.Sunil v.c

There is a time a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born, to die. a time to tear down, to build. a time to weep. to mourn. (Eccl.3:1-8).

In the Bahamas, there is a place where Cedar trees have been carved into the shapes of women looking out to sea. They are in the Clifton Heritage National Park in Nassau. They depict women looking out to sea toward the homeland and family members they've lost. It reminds us of an era in history( 18th Cent.) when inhumane treatment was meted out to slaves brought to the Bahamas by ship. These sculptures of women mourning highlight the need of lamenting the evil systems and the injustices of the past and present. Especially during these times when the whole Church is terribly shocked and wounded due to sacrilege of Clergy sexual abuse, we ought to have a time of lamentation in the Church and for the Church. These are not easy issues to talk or write about. May our prayer of lament bring sanctification through God's refining fire and heal the devastated victims. The prophet Jeremiah, after prophesying for over forty years to a disobedient and disbelieving nation, lamented the destruction of the temple, devastation of Jerusalem and the forceful exile of the people to Babylon. The People of GOD lamented after their city had been destroyed by invaders.

The hurricane victims in the Carolinas and Mexico recently, and the people of Kerala, an Indian State, are in a similar situation now. They are lamenting the terrible destruction caused by torrential rains and worst flooding ever, that has devastated their homes, the land and their lives . We pray that our lament would deeply console the victims.

However, for us Christians, Lamentation doesn't point to a hopeless cry. Rather it's a manner of opening one's heart to the Lord. The voices of lament are constantly heard in the Bible. They spring forth from a very real and human account of life. The anguish in times of deep suffering and pain are freely expressed to God. A lament is a passionate expression by a person in pain. It means wailing or complaining about the helplessness or hopelessness or loneliness or a tragedy. In the book of Job, we see God allowing Job to vent his bitter feelings during the whole phase of suffering. And finally, GOD defends Job and rebukes his friends for their wrong stance. "..you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has".(- Job.42:7). When one becomes God's friend like Job, David and Jeremiah, then there is a freedom to share one's true feeling. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel." (Ps.22:1-3). Many Christians have harbored a hidden resentment toward God for certain bitter experiences where they have felt deceived or disappointed. This becomes a serious obstacle for a genuine lamentation, as it could lead to bitter emotions and thoughts.

Lament is a legitimate response to the reality of suffering, and it engages God in the context of pain and trouble. Ultimately, lament is hopeful: when we lament what is not right, we call ourselves and others to be active in seeking change.' (by Amy Peterson, Our Daily Bread, 2018). Catherine LaCugna writes, "lamentation reactivates our relationship with GOD and enables us to resituate ourselves within, not outside the history of that relationship" (Billman & Migliore, 'Rachel's Cry' p. 107). It's, therefore, very important to reactivate our relationship with GOD by looking to Him. "The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all." (Psalm 34:18,19)

HOLY SPIRIT - YOUR HELPER

Fr.Sunil v.c

"Father, how do I know, I am filled with the Holy Spirit?" This is quite a common query we get to listen from people who attend retreats at the Retreat Center. Dear friends the answer is simple. If you don't know you are filled, then you probably are not. You don't have to ask when you see the results. Those who question their infilling either haven't understood the Gospel or have never received Spirit. As you see the trees bend you know the wind is blowing. As you look up to the fl ag waving you know the wind is blowing. And as the sails are filled and one is thrilled when the ship begins to move, you know the wind is blowing. Do you see the wind? Absolutely no. But you see its effects very clearly.

You don't have to see the Holy Spirit to know that He is present and alive. You will certainly feel the evidence in the power He has gifted you and in the new nature you are adorned with. Another puzzling thought that seems to distract people attending charismatic prayer services is this: 'Is speaking in tongues the sign that I have become filled with the Holy Spirit?' At Baptism one receives the Holy Spirit. And then the moment you become aware of your sinfulness, repent and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sin and cleanse your heart, the Holy Spirit is present. However, the infilling of the Holy Spirit is not only about the presence of the Holy Spirit, but also the power of the Holy Spirit. The power and presence of the Holy Spirit produces a new life. There will be power in that life. That life will be dominated and controlled by the Holy Spirit, no matter how weak it was. The Holy Spirit loves to use weak people. Though we have a bundle of fl aws and imperfections physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, the Holy Spirit has a different perspective on your weaknesses. The Holy Spirit is drawn to people who are weak and admit it. The Bible is fi lled with testimonies of how the Holy Spirit loves to use imperfect, ordinary people to do extraordinary things in spite of their weaknesses. "He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength."(Is.40:29).

Prior to becoming a priest and after, I've experienced the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and that's so real. He is a person and waits for a person to person communion. He is happy when we obey and grieved when we disobey. When you repent you get to know how much you have grieved Him and nevertheless His compassion for you. When one begins a relationship with the Holy Spirit, one gets to know how real He is and how much he desires fellowship. He wants to be your teacher and guide. HE will talk to you, and you will respond. HE will share so much with you and reveal to you so much. One becomes overjoyed in His love and warmth, His tenderness, His wisdom.

I've come across people who leave the Retreat Center and felt literally gripped by the Holy Spirit. They felt miserable in their sin. They felt a continual prick in their conscience and their hearts were restless. The Holy Spirit wouldn't let them go until they had made their peace with God through His Son. He will enter your mind and present the truth of the Gospel. "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that our sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."(Acts.2:38). "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you".(Acts.1:8). We come to know about the promise of power after the coming of the Spirit upon us. And they come after repentance. I knew a person who would go to the church or a prayer meeting and weep and beg God for the power that is promised in the Bible. Some would long for the laying on of hands to get the power. Yet others have believed that singing along with the choir and enjoying the music would bring the power. But the key is repentance. It puts one on the road to great fire.

And after you have given your heart to Christ, He helps you witness for the Lord. The Holy Spirit is actually a witness for Jesus. Even unbelievers sense the power of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds of people have shared their conversion stories. One of them said, "What was happening to me during the retreat is indescribable. I felt really bad about my sinful habits and felt uncomfortable about things I was doing." There is a constant 'tussle' going on as the Holy Spirit reminds us powerfully that we need the Lord. You see friends, there's no power in us to refuse Satan. You and I have no power to say no to him. The power only comes when the Holy Spirit is upon us. As they had relied on their own power, warriors of faith have fallen. So the anointing of the Holy Spirit carries a price which is total death to self and relying on God totally. It becomes a reality only in daily prayer.

Inspired from " Good Morning, HOLY SPIRIT "

THE HAND THAT REDEEMS

Fr.Sunil v.c

"Stretch out YOUR HAND (O Lord) from on high; set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters,.."(Ps.144:7). Jesus Christ is the answer to our cry. HE is GOD's Merciful Hand reaching out to the whole humankind. HE is our Redeemer. The Redeemer of all. While humankind was sinking into the depths of the ocean of sin and its consequential destructive waters, into an eternity of despair, the Merciful Lord GOD 'stooped down to lift us out of danger, from the desolate pit we were in, out of the muddy mess we had fallen into'.(Cf. Ps.40:2). And through Jesus Christ and in HIM, GOD continues to stoop down to lift us out of the danger we still are in, from the desolate pit we are in.

The deplorable state today is that this generation doesn't realise it's sinking state. So we don't seem to feel the need to cry out like the Psalmist did. "Stretch out YOUR HAND from on high; set me free...".

I knew a person in my home country who has been blessed with a highranking job, and of all his siblings and family members is materially wealthy. However, he has been constantly earning lots of money through corrupt, dishonest means. A couple of times he almost got into serious trouble due to his unlawful, fraudulant activity. As he was raised in a Christian home, in such critical situation he would turn to God, ask pardon and plead for His mercy to get out of the complicated situation. And he would experience a miraculous freedom from being accused of or convicted for criminal acts. Inspite of God's mercy shown towards him, he has been ungrateful to God for having saved him from disgrace.

Added to this, he pursues an immoral lifestyle even after his marriage. Twenty years into his marriage he still contnues to seduce married and unmarried women with his influence and money. In the beginning of 2017, he was diagnosed of cancer. That's when he begins visiting various pilgrim centers, shrines and attends the healing prayer-services and Retreats in different Retreat Centers for a healing. He's gripped with fear of death. "Your wickedness will punish you, and your apostasies will convict you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God."(Jer.2:19).

In the Gospel & in the picture here, we see JESUS stoops down and stretches forth HIS HAND to lift Peter out of the sinking state. Peter reaches out to Jesus' hand. He needed to allow the Lord to lift him up. This is what everyone of us needs to know. We are in need of HIS HAND that can lift us out of the quagmire of sin, addictions & adversity.

There are two serious mistakes we often commit that keep us from being lifted up by the LORD's HAND. The first one is an unrepentant heart that distances us from the merciful Lord and HIS delivering HAND. "They were cut to the heart and said 'what should we do?' Peter said..'Repent..'" (Acts.2:37,38). "..there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."(Lk.15:10).

The second mistake is to fall into the temptation of false pride. And this is how we ourselves hinder the process of being lifted up by the HAND of the LORD. All of us have a natural tendency to hide our problems, sins, imperfections and weaknesses. Most of us can't tolerate others knowing we have a problem or imperfection. In the course of hiding our problems, we try to avoid getting help.

Some of us resort to extreme measures to show we are okay or prove we are fine, and don't need help. Some common mechanisms we use to avoid exposure of our problems, sinful weaknesses are blaming others, denial, arrogance etc. All of this is the result of false pride.

"A man's pride will bring him low."(Prov.29:23). There is this husband who doesn't cook nor tries to help the wife with the daily chores at home. She does them all and goes to work. To avoid his wife's corrections regarding his irresponsible parenting towards his children and his slothful lifestyle, he finds fault with her driving, irregular shopping or something silly. False pride leads to blaming others and denial of one's own mistakes.

False pride doesn't allow us to learn from our mistakes or correct our wrongdoing making us blind to the need to change. It stops us from getting the help we desperately need and shows up mostly when things go wrong, and for some even when things go right. When we are drowning in the destructive waters of sin, relationship problems & adversity we are in a desperate need of the redeeming HAND of JESUS. But unfortunately we don't see HIS HAND. Some see and yet refuse to be lifted up. This is another sad state of our world today.

Let's look up to Christ, as HE stoops & stretches forth HIS HAND, reaching out to us to lift us out of danger.

POWER AND DELIVERANCE THRU THE ROSARY

Fr.Mathew Naickomparambil, vc

Two thousand years ago, Jesus died on the cross carrying our sins, sicknesses and sorrows. While praying the rosary, we meditate on the life of Jesus and therefore we receive the deliverance and victory over sin, sickness and evil powers.

The people to whom they minister also receive the same Thus the Rosary becomes an intercessory prayer that showers blessings on many. I testify this is my ministerial experience too. The miracles that took place during Jesus' time and ministry are being showered when we pray the Marian Rosary. The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus; the fruits of the salvific plan through Jesus-this is what the devotees of the rosary and others receive. This knowledge is beyond human wisdom and understanding. Yet, for me it is my most favorite and valuable truth and life experience. Therefore, I praise, thank and glorify God for raising 'Marian Rosary' as an intercessory prayer.

David B. Currie, a former protestant preacher in the U.S., whose father was a fundamentalist preacher and whose whole upbringing was immersed in the life of fundamentalist Protestantism, in his search for the truth realized that the Catholic Church is the true Church. He had written a book, "Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic", about why he became a Roman Catholic. Currie presents a very lucid, systematic and intelligible account of the reasons for his conversion to the Catholic Church. In his book, he states the following: There is no catholic faithful who does not reflect on Jesus' life daily for 15 minutes. The explanation is: There is no Catholic faithful who does not pray the Rosary daily. The duration of a rosary is 15 mins. It is Jesus' life that we reflect on when we pray the five mysteries of rosary.

From now on all generations shall call me blessed-every faithful fulfills this Marian prophecy (Lk.1:48), when he/she prays, 'Hail Mary full of grace...". In Luke.1:41, 44, we read of Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth who had conceived in her old age. When she heard the voice of Mary's greetings, she and the baby in her womb were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Through Luke 1:41 God gives a revelation to those who seek the truth in the world. Devotion to Mary, Marian Rosary, Marian centers are all the ministries that God has chosen and respects. In all these places God showers His Holy Spirit. Through signs and wonders, healing and anointing of the Holy Spirit in the Marian services God reveals how pleased he is with these services. Mother Mary had appeared in Guadalupe in Mexico in the year 1503. Within few years around 8 million of the inhabitants of the land, who professed for centuries a polytheistic and human-sacrificing religion,receive Baptism and become a part of the Catholic Church. They reflect on the life of Jesus, and intercede for the whole world through the Marian Rosary. In 1996 at Medjugorje in Northern Europe, the Divine plan regarding the Rosary was revealed.

Rosary-Divine goal of this prayer:

1. Praying with Holy Mother. 2. Praying by reflecting on the life of Jesus

What happens through devotion to the rosary? Through the merits of Jesus' life, those who pray the rosary and those for whom the rosary is prayed receive infilling of the Holy Spirit and deliverance from many bondages.(Lk.4:18-20). We thus understand that Marian rosary is an evangelization prayer.

The Characteristic features of Marian Rosary

1. It is a prayer in which we meditate on the life of Jesus.

2. We pray with Mother Mary.

3. We pray for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

4. We pray for the salvation and deliverance of the whole world.

---A prayer with anointing of the WORD. (Scriptural verses).

---Gives strength needed for our ministry

---Gives authority over the devil.

---Miraculous showering of God's power takes place.

---Showers healing from sicknesses

---A common prayer for millions of people.

Reflection:

1. Introspect on the intent of your prayer & Christian life.

2. Let your prayer not be a mechanical activity. Let it be one that is led by Spirit of God. Let the salvation of the whole world be your intent of prayer. Then it would become your ministry of spreading God's power.

BADLY MISLED..?

Fr.Sunil v.c

Jesus said: You are badly misled, because you fail to understand the Scriptures or the power of God.(Mk.12:24). The Sadducees were very much mistaken. They did not believe that we will rise from the dead. (Cf.Mk.12:18). Therefore they had no hope for the future and little joy in the present. Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees considered only the written Word to be from God and preserved the authority of the written Word of God, especially the books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy). While they could be commended for this, they definitely were not perfect in their doctrinal views. They were extremely self- sufficient to the point of denying God's involvement in everyday life. They denied any resurrection of the dead. They denied any after-life, holding that the soul perished at death, and therefore denying any penalty or reward after the earthly life.

The Pharisees too were badly misled. Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees earned numerous rebukes from Jesus. Todaywe find many Church-goers and religious-minded Christians with a similar mind-set. Perhaps the best lesson we can learn from the Pharisees and Sadducees is to not be like them. Unlike the Sadducees, we are to believe everything the Bible says, including the miraculous and the after-life. Unlike the Pharisees, we are not to allow our relationship with God to be reduced to a legalistic list of rules and rituals.

There are also people who are badly misled because they fail to understand the power of God. (Cf.Mk.12:24). If we don't believe in God's power to heal those who are emotionally, physically and spiritually sick we would be badly misled. If we don't see in faith, the power of God to restore marriages, drive out demons, and raise the dead, we will repeatedly come to wrong conclusions. Ignorant of God's power, we will give up when we should go on, and settle for a culture of death rather than strive for a new culture of love and life. Let us daily ask for the gift of faith to believe in the power of God.

EPH’PHATHA

Fr.Sunil v.c

“They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged Him to lay his hand on him.” (Mk.7:32). Have you heard of a strange hearing disorder that some people suffer from? They can hear sounds but can’t understand words. They have no trouble hearing a bird sing or a watch tick, but words are as unintelligible as if they were a foreign language. The problem is not in the ears. It stems from an injury to the brain. There is also a spiritual deafness that affects many people. Because of a sinful heart, those without faith in Christ can read the Bible and hear the teachings of God’s Word, but its spiritual message is foolishness to them (1Cor 2:14). The man in Mark 7 couldn’t hear and speak. He had to be brought to Jesus by others. The deaf man could see, walk and make signs. He was capable of taking care of himself in many ways. But he didn’t know who Jesus was, nor did he realise He could heal him. The inability to make the wise decision of walking up to Jesus is a result of a lack of understanding about who Jesus was. Deafness results in a lack of understanding. Deaf people have very little understanding of the perceived world. The deaf man in the passage has no name. He represents people who have ears but don’t hear or rather can’t hear. Thousands upon thousands come to Churches on Sunday mornings all over the world. They hear the Word of God and yet are unable to understand the Word of God. They may like the preaching, hear an inspiring, encouraging Word, an anointed, correcting Word and applaud it, yet lack any real understanding of God and His will. It doesn’t change their lives.

They have lost the capacity to hear the Word of God in the inner, spiritual ear. And they cannot praise the Lord because they have become tongue-tied. “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” (Acts 28:26). Jesus has compassion towards such people. He longs to liberate them from their bondage. “He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, EPHPHATHA! ” (MK.7:33). This was an expression of HIS strong feeling; and this enables us to perceive the intensity of His love towards us, for whose struggles and miseries He feels so much compassion. The inability to comprehend God’s Word is prevalent in our churches and among believers today. This deaf man represents majority of young people in Christian families as well. The Christian teens and young people do not seem to have the capacity to hear and digest the Word of God.

There is a passivity among the young Christians and adults of this generation that the Church has never witnessed before. A deaf person is insensitive to many things that surround him or her and to whatever is happening. Many Christians are insensitive to moral issues and towards their suffering brethren. They have become insensitive to their relationship with Jesus Christ. St. John of the Ladder wrote: “Insensitivity is deadened feeling in body and spirit and comes from long sickness and carelessness. Lack of awareness is negligence that has become habit. It is thought gone numb…”(Philokalia II). They need to be brought to Jesus in intercessory prayer. Take note of the verse that says “they begged Him to lay His hand on the deaf man”. (Mk.7:32). We need to plead before the Lord on their behalf. However, there is a minority of Christian young people who are touched by the Lord and are enthusiastic about God’s Word.

DO YOU NOT SEE THE NEW BLESSING?

Fr.Sunil v.c

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Is.43:19). Our God is a God of promises. And this is one of His wonderful promises; a NEW thing. It is more than just inviting or celebrating a New Year. ‘New’ here signifies that God is intending to do something unprecedented in its wonderful character. Now it shall spring forth. It shall spring up as the grass does from the earth; or it shall bud forth like the opening leaves and flowers - a beautiful figure, denoting the manner in which the events of Divine Providence come to pass. Springing forth gives us a picture of a germinating herb, a beautiful image of the silent but certain gradual growth of events in God's providence. “Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.” (Mark.4:26, 27).

I recall a person who got fired from work and remained jobless for over an year. The first 8 months were spent in despair; worrying about the past and anxious regarding the future. After attending a Retreat, he decides to look to the Lord God, the Provider. “Look to HIM and be radiant.”(Ps.34:5). And to make it a reality, he refused to look back and worry and avoided being anxious about the future

He spent an hour or two daily in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord Jesus, read the Word of God, extended his love & care to his family and gave some quality time, attended retreats whenever possible and served at the Center.

Even as there wasn’t any sign of a blessing, he believed God was doing a new thing in his life and that it was springing forth. After many months, he receives an invitation letter from a good firm and is now blessed with a very good job. In the whole process, he overcame his worrying attitude and anxious mindset. He learnt to trust God at all times and see His hand work in every situation. Before he could see the new thing God was doing in his life, he experienced it in unseen ways.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”(1Pet.5:6) God’s grace is reserved for the humble.

The New thing that the Lord has in store for you this New Year is not subject to circumstances. It is not based on any human effort or relationship. Rather, it is based on the steadfast love of the Lord and His unending mercies towards us. It is based on our trust as well. A trust in a divine plan and promise from an unfailing god who will secure you in Himself and who will do everything for your good.

The greatest of ‘new’ things that sprang forth in the history of humankind was the incarnation of the Son of God; who took flesh of a virgin, appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was made sin and a curse for his people, in order to obtain eternal redemption for them. “And the One seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new…’.”.(Rev. 21:5) It was new by the blood and sacrifice of Christ; and may be also called "new", because it was excellent, complete and eternal, and having so many valuable blessings in it, as justification, pardon, and eternal life. When old things passed away, and all things became new; a new covenant of grace was exhibited, a new church set up, new ordinances appointed, and a new people called to partake of all this, on whom was a new face of things; and wonderful and excellent things were done for them.

JESUS HEALS AND REVEALS

Fr.Sunil v.c

"They had come to hear HIM and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured" (Luke 6:18).People received physical healings and a deliverance from the grip of unclean spirits. But the sequence seen here is hearing the Word precedes healing of sicknesses. After listening to the Word of God with their hearts and minds, their bodies are ready for healing.

Healing accompanied the proclamation of God’s word and it led people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. What good is it to be the healthiest person in hell? One of the Greek word for healing is ‘Salvation’. The glad tidings, the good news, is that redemption from the Fall and reconciliation with the Father are possible. Redemption and reconciliation come through the finished work of Jesus the Christ. In short, salvation is in Christ. In the last chapter of Mark, we come across the great Commission given to the apostles. “These signs will accompany those who believe:… they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mk.16:17,18). We are to pray with faith in every situation that we receive an integral healing. Jesus heals the whole human person. In every realm, we are in need of healing. It includes physical, mental, psychological, sexual and spiritual areas of our life. The prophets reminded people of their collective sin and their collective sense of guilt was laid bare.

In the Gospels, Jesus hints at collective sin affecting the families and passed down through the generations (Cf.Mt.23:29ff). Hence, the grave need of healing in the families and through the families. Jesus Christ heals families and communities of all the negative elements, the hurts, the unforgiveness and unrepentant bitterness. HE is able to break the hold certain sins have on our family lines. It is interesting to note that great crowd had gone to hear Jesus speak. His words were powerful and life-giving. People were drawn to Jesus not just to receive some kind of healing in the body but to listen to His words that touched their souls. Jesus is the Word of GOD incarnate. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1). Hence Jesus spoke God's Word. And it is that Word that shows us what we are really like inside. The Word of God is the mirror of the human soul. No other mirror will show us what we are really like inside. In a sense, God's Word uses X-ray vision. It reveals what cannot be seen with ordinary eyes. This truth is stated in Hebrews: "For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account”. God’s X-ray mirror is like surgeon's scalpel. It penetrates even to that innermost, invisible nature of every human, which is made up of soul and spirit.

I AM GOD AND NOT HUMAN

Fr.Sebastian Anchumuriyil,v.c

The Bible is the history of the bond between God and man, and also the revelation of the natures of God and man. In the book of Hosea, the eleventh chapter depicts for us a wonderful picture of God’s mercy. God, who is unwilling to forsake the unfaithful people of Israel, asks, "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is torn within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man.”(Hosea 11:8-9). The right and complete answer to the question about who God is: “I am God, and not human”. One of the important truths that begins to emerge fully from Genesis to Revelation and extends across biblical history is about how God is God and how he isn’t human. The book of Genesis begins by unfolding the image of God. A God with man in His mind, moulds him with a potter’s creative genius. Out of the clay, He gives shape to man and with love breathes into his nostrils. “….with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.”(Hosea.11:4). And thereby He gives His heart which is His image and likeness. (Gen.2:7).What greater and wonderful expression than this could ever be given to affirm that in every cell of the human person there is God’s touch and in every heartbeat HIS Spirit dwells? The most precious gift that God has granted to this earth! The first love-tiding to the universe! And thenceforth, God gives man the authority over all things of this world. By the very fact that God permitted man to name them, it is evident that God gave him the authority to rule and guide the created beings. Further, we see that God blessed him with a suitable life-partner, prepared for him all the treasures and blessings needed and places him in Paradise. The theologians opine that the creation of humankind was the first descent of God’s love. God shares himself with man. But how about man? As we leaf through the pages of Genesis, we come to see the manner in which humans try to confront God and become selfish. Adam raises his accusatory finger at God and argues. ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, led me astray.’ The human tendency to justify one’s own sin begins from Genesis. If that was the state of the first couple, the state of the children got worse. The selfishness of Cain leads to the murder of his brother Abel.

And as we move further in the history of the Bible, we come across the story of man’s sin and God’s mercy. As man chooses his selfish desire in sin, God in His mercy chooses to share His will with man. And the culmination was in His own giving Himself to humankind.

The second glad tiding that God pronounced to the world was: ‘To save the lost humankind, God shares His own existence with us. God’s Son incarnates onto this earth as a man. “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son.”(Jn.3:16). John the Baptist, who came to pave the way for this good news, said, "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none."(Lk.3:11). Man needs to give one out of the two that he possesses. But God doesn’t withhold anything from man as He gives and shares with humankind the gift of His only begotten Son. When is it that I would learn to emulate His example of giving & sharing and reach that godly state?.

A God who transfers and shares authority and anointing. The sacraments, as we are aware, are ministered and sins are forgiven through this transferring and sharing. And it is through this transferring of authority, the Church is renewed and comes to fuller life. But man refuses to share. Parents refusing to transfer the authority to the children, authorities that misuse their authority and those who are ready to go to any extent of wickedness or to side with evil in order to selfishly preserve their position. God doesn’t deal with humans as we do among ourselves. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”(1 Jn.4;7). God never deals with His children as man does. If so, there never would have been a Christmas morning and an Easter Morning.

CHOSEN TO BE DIFFERENT

Fr.Sunil v.c

As Christians we are chosen and called by God to be radical, to be different. God has a specific plan for each one of us as it is written in Jeremiah 29:11, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” This plan that God intends for us is for our good, it is to perfect us for his kingdom.

When we seek God with all our heart, He will reveal His plan for us. Very often, we go to God and tell Him all our problems hoping that He will solve them or make them go away. We fail to realize that God knows all our problems, our trials and tribulations even before we tell Him. When we go and pray before the Lord we need to first seek His will, His purpose, and His plan for us on earth. The Lord assures us through Jeremiah 29:12-13, “Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.” Praying is not only speaking but also listening to God. We should listen to God to understand His plan for us. We listen to God through the Word of God, through the Holy Eucharist and through the sacraments.

We are called to be saints as it is written in Colossians 1:11-12, “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.” From prophet Isaiah 11:2-3, we know that we receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit will empower us to do His will supernaturally and that will enable us to be united with God.

The gifts of wisdom, counsel, knowledge and understanding will illuminate your intellect to understand the truth of the faith and the plan of God for you. The gifts of piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord will empower you to receive the courage and strength to live your faith according to the plan of God.

Mother Mary was chosen by God and she was faithful to the plans God bestowed upon her. She received Jesus into her heart, life and she gave Jesus to the world.

A humble nun, St Faustina, said yes to the plan of God. God chose her to proclaim the Divine Mercy to the world. Though it was very difficult and painful at times, she became a true instrument of the Divine Mercy.

Do you know God’s plan for you? Let us pray for this revelation so that we may fulfil our purpose on earth and eventually take our place in the kingdom of God.

We pray with St. Faustina, for the mercy of God to gush forth for us so that we may receive all the graces that we need, to be faithful to the purpose that God has created and called us for. Praise the Lord!

CRISIS OF FORGIVING

Fr.Sunil v.c

Life is not problem-free. Every time you solve one, the next one seems to take its place. But God has a purpose behind every problem. Our lives are cluttered with people who wound our feelings in small ways, but who mean no real harm. We suffer some inevitable aches simply because we are vulnerable people with a fragile spirit, and sometimes accidently collide with other people. Not everybody is out to get us. But we always seem to face a crisis of forgiving, when somebody seems to wound our feelings unintentionally. What he/she meant and what I experience can be two different things.

I recall a testimony of someone who pursued theological studies and had a crisis of forgiving. His colleague once wrote a letter to his board to accuse him of some theological delinquencies. “His letter was unfair to me, and it caused me a lot of trouble”, he said. “I believe that my colleague meant to be fair. But what he meant and what I experienced were two different things”, he added. He continued to feel it was unfair, no matter if his colleague meant it to be fair. And the unfairness of it threw him into a crisis.

People often fall into this trap of ‘it-was-unfair’ feeling and thought, and let that incident fester in their memory. When this has been happening from the childhood they become blind to the reality at hand, and fail to be liberated from a vicious cycle. With every experience their personality becomes weaker and more vulnerable and darkness sets in. “…God is light and in him there is no darkness at all…if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1John.1:5-7).The sad state is the unawareness about the trap the evil one has set, filled with lies. At this point the devil readily becomes their blind guide. And the outcome is their unwillingness to walk into freedom in spite of the help offered by others. Silently they seem to tell, ‘I don’t need help’. Jesus said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”(Mk.2:17). When we don’t accept our state of being unwell, we keep Jesus, the healer, waiting for long at the door of our hearts. Numerous times during the Retreats, when people let go and let God, they begin to experience wondrous healings, physical and emotional. To let go is hard but we need to. Sometimes you can’t know for sure whether you have been the victim of an unavoidable accidentor whether you have been wrongfully wounded.

You may need help to sort out your hurts so you can see the difference between feeling the pain that comes from our vulnerability/fragile spirit, and the pain that comes from being the butt of an unfair attack. It’s important to know the difference, if you are willing to grow through those circumstances. Because God has a purpose behind every situation or struggle. Even after realizing the intention of the one who caused the hurt, it’s hard to let go. That’s because what they have intended does not take away the unfairness we feel. Most people who mean to hurt other people believe they are being fair. When we are hurt in this way, we enter the crisis of forgiveness. We cannot relate to the person who hurt us as a friend or a family member until we come to terms with the unfairness of the hurt. We need the healing touch of our Lord Jesus and receive a restoration of our spiritual sight. “If the SON makes you free, you will be free indeed.”(Jn.8:36 )

Forgiving is love’s remedy to be used when we are hurtfully wronged by a person we trusted to treat us right. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.”(Rom.12:17). Forgiveness has creative power to liberate us from a past moment of pain and break the grip that past wrong and past pain have on our minds. “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what are they doing.”(LK.23:34). So let’s plead to the Lord for the grace to forgive and ask for the strength to overcome evil with good.

ENDLESS FURNANCE OF LOVE

Fr.Sunil v.c

“Recently, my house caught on fire. The sight of the raging fire was simultaneously terrifying, awesome, dramatic, and life-changing. God has used the fire as a catalyst for many positive changes in my life. Though initially devastating, this fire might end up being one of the best things God has ever done for me.” This is a testimony of a person who began to perceive how God works and how His plans unfold in the most difficult and least expected set of circumstances. That’s the kind of renewal experience that the Holy Spirit grants to people after having attended retreats. When Wisdom dawns on someone who is honest and open to the inspirations of the Spirit, their inner eyes are opened to the deeper spiritual truth. We need to be open to experience the sanctifying role of God’s love. Even if we love the Lord with all our heart and do many things rightly, our soul still needs to pass through fire. We all grow through trials, through times of testing. You will experience internal death and struggle as God strips away the things that resist HIS LSove. And sin is the greatest obstacle that resists the Love of God.

The need of the Refiner’s fire is felt more than ever

Human nature is tainted by sin. Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. Thenceforth, sin has been seeking to reign in our mortal bodies to make us obey there, the body’s passions. “Let not sin, therefore reign in your mortal bodies”. (Rom.6:12). Because of the evil spiritual forces around us and the sinful appetites within us, we fall into lust or sin. I know of a person who was honest with himself and said, ‘it looks like the dragon called ‘sexual lust’ hibernates inside of me during and after a Retreat, and when prayer is lacking and my mind is bombarded with erotic images, messages and scenes, the dragon is excited’. That was an honest examination of one’s own self. We presume that we are the master in our homes. One fine day, we realize that we are not the master in our homes. We are the slaves. “No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present your members to God as instruments of righteousness.”(Rom.6:13). We do it by the Spirit.

The Lord invites us to rid ourselves of all impurities and to clean out the debris of hatred and anger. In order for us to walk in the Spirit we must constantly be reminded of the infinite mercy of God made manifest on the Cross, as Jesus Christ paid the price of our Redemption by shedding His Blood and dying for us.

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”(Eph.2:3-5).

As Jesus knelt in the garden, was scourged, mocked with a crown of thorns, carried the cross to Calvary and was crucified, in His divine knowing, He knew all of the souls from all time, past, present and future, all of their sin, all of the vileness in the hearts of men and women. He was beaten, bruised and bloodied. Yet, He gave the last beat of His Heart. He gave His last breath. He gave His all. He truly gave His all for love of us. He came to show us the way, the way to love. His worst agony was the agony that He endured in His Most Sacred Heart, the Heart that gives to every person, divine love, divine life, and is rejected by many, is treated coldly. His Heart ached for all the souls that would treat HIM with such indifference and neglect. Even today, the Heart of Jesus is in pain when people pay HIM no heed, never go to Him and stay at such a distance. My friend, are you willing to comfort HIS aching HEART with your love for HIM? Be alone with HIM, totally wrapped in His embrace. The Heart of Jesus is the furnace of endless love. Jesus forgives and sanctifies us. Listen to Him as He says, ‘I am Jesus, your Savior, and I love you with the deepest, tenderest love. I pour My love out to you.’

TRANSFORMED BY THE WORD & THE SPIRIT

Fr.Mathew Naickomparambil, v.c.

It was not a human idea, but a divine idea or a message from the Lord that changed my life.

What was the divine message that brought a real transformation in my life? Luke 11:10-13 Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive……” you shall receive the Holy Spirit (in abundance).

John 6:63 “It is the spirit that gives life, matter does not profit anything at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” These are the words of Jesus Christ, Son of God.

I had very personal experience of hearing the voice of the Lord in July 1966(at the age of 20.) “Ask….you shall receive the Holy Spirit.” I could not grasp any special significance about what I heard. Even then, at times I prayed “Oh Lord give me the gift of your Holy Spirit.” Three years passed. During one of my usual morning meditations at 5.30--6 o’clock, in 1969, in the month of September (at age of 23) a Light from above started descending upon me, it looked like a sphere (or a globe) of light, of the size of the full moon coming upon me and resting on me; then entering into me; the whole inside of my total person started enjoying a divine illumination, divine bliss; joy, peace, consolation and healing from above.

“Ask ..You shall receive Holy Spirit” –brought a great change in my life, attitude; and relationships to God and to people around also got uplifted. When my life was changed by the word of God, I was privileged to preach this gospel to thousands of people and to the leaders of Religious life.

As a catholic priest, I could preach and witness to millions of people, their life also got changed. They in their turn started preaching and witnessing to hundreds and thousands.

What a great blessing, that we, poor mortals can be raised and used for the transformation of life for many.

Bible says; God is a loving and healing God. (I John 4:8, Exodus 15:26)

Man fully alive is the glory of God, writes St.Ireneus. Hence it is the will of God, to heal man-his mind, body and soul. The loving and healing God wants to heal not only us but also to heal others through our sharing the work of God and praying for them in the Name of Jesus.

(Fr Mathew Naickomparambil is a Vincentian priest, the pioneer & the founding father of the Potta Evangelization Movement of the Divine Retreat Center, India. It is considered the largest Retreat Center in the world, where 5000- 8000 people gather every week to attend 5-day Live-in Retreats in 7 languages. He has lost count of the countries and places the Lord has led him to preach the Gospel and heal the sick and broken-hearted. He was invited to address a gathering of 3000 priests at the third world-wide International Priests' Retreat in Rome 2015)

The Word of God in Mt.11:5 is being fulfilled through the Potta-Evangelisation Ministry in various Retreat Centers and Conventions around the world. “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”