Wednesday, June 8, 2016

When whip and thorns show up again!

Rough edges are there to smoothen me
Pointed ones to poke me deep
They exist in my life to remind me
Of the distance I must tread to be good

Don't I know I'm Gods work in progress
Becoming the maker more or less
These are tools my maker uses
To chip off parts not in his plan

Holy will I be if I permit and not resist
Redeemed be my heart bit by bit
Purifying me in the furnace of love
Untill He sees his face shine in mine

Thank you Lord for the many gifts given
That makes me sad but makes me wise
They purge my still ungodly side
To abide totally as branch in the vine

Pain and suffering are there to spare me
From the surging fires of purging pyre
Love cannot hate so I'm never alone
Always by me is the shepherd so good

Your chastisement is a sweet medicine
That makes me chaste and cleanses sin
Never let me forget thy care and desire
When thy whip and thorns show up again

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The joy of Lent

The words we generally associate with Lent are the unpleasant ones like, desert, heat, dryness, wilderness, fear, beasts, hunger, thirst, loneliness etc. We may think, for Jesus, the forty days he spent in the wilderness was an unpleasant experience. But on the contrary, it may well be the best forty days in his life, spent in deep relationship with the father.

Jesus' victory over the crafty schemes of the devil at the end of his fast, is the proof of the immense strength one receives in prayer (dwelling in the presence of God).

Lent begins with a very powerful scripture passage where Jesus, soon after his baptism is lead by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Jesus, with extreme clarity, conviction and determination destroys every one of the temptations and commands the devil to get away and at once he does. The devil presents before Jesus, practical sounding, too good to be true worldly promises, suggestions and challenges, while attempting to tempt him. Complying to devils suggestions will make Jesus a celebrity overnight because the world in sin is under devils spell. Yet without a moment of delay or doubt Jesus declares to the devil that his offers are cheap and that he has found something incomparably better in the Fathers house, namely divine life, everlasting joy, peace that surpasses all understanding etc.

Jesus who was fresh out of baptism, full of the Holy Spirit was led into the desert for a deep and intimate union with the Father - away from all earthly attractions and bodily urges. It is this deep connection with the Father that prepares Him to face the devil. The confrontation with the devil is permitted by the Father because the Father knows that the one who is in Him is granted the wisdom, knowledge and the power to refuse and reject any suggestions that is contrary to the gift of divine life that God gives.

We observe abstinence during Lent. And we tend to think abstinence is the essence of lent. Choosing to abstain from food, activities or people that we are attached to is only a preparation for what is most important, and that is 'growing in fellowship with the father' - in other words prayer. Prayer as we know is a relationship with the father. In such a relational prayer, God gives us the necessary grace to obey His commandments, follow His will and reject the crafty schemes of the devil.

Lent is like spending summer holidays in the Father's house. Everything about it is exciting, challenging and fun. It is time for passionate conversations, discussions, new knowledge and understanding, experiences, corrections and most of all it is a season to experience the richness of the love of the Father. We certainly feel secure there. We feel wanted and loved there. We feel excited about life growing up. We immediately recognise our fathers' house to be 'our house' and that we totally belong there. May this lenten experience linger all through our life that the victory over the world and satan is ours not though our own strength but though the merit of Jesus the saviour.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Not without a fight

God promised the Israelites who were slaves in Egypt, Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. This land was not as we might think an unoccupied single piece of land, full of trees and cows and honey combs waiting to welcome God's people but a land occupied by corrupt, immoral people who were hardly good to mingle with let alone to live with.

Taking procession of the promised land was not a cake walk. God's people had to wage a series of wars to wipe the opposition out. Yes, God was with the Israelites yet the victory was not without a fight.

Jesus redeemed us from sin and promised the Kingdom of God for all those who believe in him yet it is not without a fight. The signs God did for the Israelites were merely foreshadows the greater works Christ would do during his time. Like the Israelites, people of the new Jerusalem - the Church would also have to fight battles to enter the promised kingdom. Jesus taught us to believe in Him and trust him. He promised to never leave us alone. He has promised us sure victory.

Our strong faith in Jesus Christ and the hope of salvation should drive us to the battle field daily to counter the enemy. Like David before Goliath we should remain valiant knowing God is fighting the battle for us. God delivered to the Israelites nations after nations until they occupied the entire promised land. Similarly those who have been called to become the children of God through baptism, received the faith through the word of God, received the Holy Spirit, will not enter the kingdom God has promised unless we wage a war on the enemy taking over from him one by one all that we have lost.

If nothing note worthy is happening is our lives right now it is because we are not at the forefront fighting the war but lazily waiting for the promise to fall from the sky. How can God give you victory for a war that is not fought?. Indeed God has reserved the victory for us but only those who fight is entitled to receive it. This fight is against our own sinful nature and the evil schemes of satan entrap us. This battle is for purity. This battle is to shun sin. Gods grace makes this possible for those who sincerely desire victory.

It is significant that God warns the Israelites not keep any spoils from the war but to destroy everything leaving no trace of it behind. This is because God knows these objects will lead his people to commit the same sins the pagans committed. When we advance in our spiritual life it is necessary that we wipe out every remains of the old sinful habits be it objects, books, devices or friendships.

All the good work that God has done in and though our lives was God's work. It was his mercy and grace at work. We know very well our true nature. We have grown too big to keep falling. Any compromise will have disastrous consequences. Today is the day to change. There may not be a tomorrow.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Don't you hear Jesus is calling you?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Why do you refuse to eat?

Are you refusing to eat the lavish meal your father has prepared and served just for me because the rule insists you must not eat unless you are washed clean. Water flows in abundance. What stops you? A weak will? Lack of strong desire? Underlying affinity to the unclean? or is it just ignorance?

Monday, November 30, 2015

The new 'normal'

We exist in relationship with God whether we know it or not. In our relationship with God, we are either embracing Him or denying Him.

Sometimes we hear people opine, "I don't over do my spirituality". They are careful not to be seen as religious extremists or fanatics. They are concerned a spiritual stand might offend a few.

The question arises "what is normal? Active involvement is spiritual matters or moderate or little involvement? Are those who seem to be talking only about God, heaven, hell, eternal life and spirituality religious extremists?

Some think that God exits to distribute goodies to those who please him and punish those who displease him. Some conclude if God has given them intelligence, knowledge, talents and other capacities to achieve their life’s ambitions they should not disturb God. It is enough that they pray that God blesses their fabulous plans and not thwart their dearly plans.

God is not human nor does he think or act like one of us.  Human intelligence or logic cannot fathom the essence of God. It will be like a toy robot trying to understand the man who created it by the artificial intelligence it is given. But as far as humanity is concerned what sets us apart is that we are created in the very nature of God himself. So we are not orphans on earth but children fostered by a Father whom we call our God. God must be understood from the mouth of Jesus – the son of God who is the mind of God, the word of God and the face of God.

What is normal then? Active involvement is spiritual affairs or moderate involvement? Let us analyze:

Imagine you have an employ who has taken only 10 days leave in the last 10 years (in additional to eligible leaves). You will speak highly of him and he will be called faithful, sincere, hardworking despite of his being absent for 10 days. Because for you 10 days out of 3650 days seem insignificant. You will be happy to honor him with a ‘the employ of the decade’ award.

But if I ask a woman, if her husband can sleep with the women next door just one day out of the 3650 days (10 years) what would be her answer? As we know this husband has been faithful to his wife 3649 days out of 3650 days so he should be given ‘husband of the decade’ according to our previous example.

What is the difference? Why one is ok and other is not?

As far as a husband is concerned ‘normal’ is the one who loves his wife and is faithful to her all the days of his life. Even the meager one day of disobedience makes him unfaithful. Partial obedience is disobedience. We cannot remain in the neutral zone in our relationship with God because there is none. You are either faithful to him or not faithful to him. It is because as St. Paul says we become one body with our spouse in marriage. Their souls are knit together inseparably.

As we know the relationship between husband and wife in marriage is only an earthly sign of our eternal relationship/communion with God. Like St Paul says in another place “Jesus is the head and we are his body” – inseparably united. Nothing physically separates man from God but he can choose to live in denial of the obvious truth. It would be like my hand saying it does not belong to me while it still remains in my body. Jesus said “apart from me you can do nothing”.

The more you love your wife the better husband you become. Similarly the more you love God the more human you become. Scripture says “Love Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength”. When we permit God to lavish his love upon us, we get better at loving God. His love perfects us. His love in us overflows to others and that is the human goodness we see in the world. There is no goodness apart from God.

So in our relationship with God, the ‘normal’ is one that which is passionate, intimate, inseparably united and unending. Religious extremism on the other is an evidence of inner emptiness and a desperate attempt to justify self governed actions in the name of God.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Do I really love Jesus?

Do I really love Jesus?. What would be an indicator that can show me how much I love him?

My love for Jesus is not measured in the success of my ministry or the extraordinary God experiences I may have. Those are nothing but the direct result of God's immeasurable love and mercy for us. God gives himself to us in a measure that we are completely unworthy of. Gods love is not a reciprocation of what we do to him. We are incapable of doing any Good work except when he does it in us and through us. How then will I know how much I love Jesus?

In our spiritual life, we do many things as part of a routine. If not as a routine, we could be doing them for the love of self and justification of self. As we know one Holy Mass is powerful enough to transform a person into the likeness of Christ. One confession is enough to make us as pure as I ought to be. But we walk out of every Mass pretty much the same way. Sometimes some thoughts or feelings may linger for a while but they soon fade off into oblivion. That would mean the Holy Masses I participate in, or the Confessions I make does not give me an indication of how much I love Jesus.

I may have a Word of God on my lips for anyone who comes to me, or have prophecies for those who come to me for help. I may sing in angelic voices or write like a veteran theologian. I may receive a standing ovation after every one of my speeches, I may be a living saint in the eyes of those around me but these things are seldom an indication of how much I love for Jesus.

Think about it. Strip yourself off every thing that God is doing in your life. That is His business. Let God do what He wants with us. He loves us because He owns us. For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

Our fallen nature has presented us a weakened self. We are being tempted in every way throughout our days. At the doorstep of every sin, I'm given the freedom to choose Good or Evil. We know the consequence of the choices we make. One choice leads to life and the other to death. The evil I choose leads not only to the death of my own soul but the death of a member of the body of Christ. It is a part of the Body of Christ that is being annihilated because of the wrong choice I make. Christ's body is not independent of His person. He is his body. He and his body are united in a one flesh union just as our head is united to the rest of the body. Every sin cuts us off from the vine i.e. Jesus - the head of my body. He says apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

In the lives of saints we see them undertaking acts of mortification. These acts properly understood are not self mutilation but a sincere effort from their part to consciously wrestle against the power of the sinful nature within that compels us to sin. Acts of mortification we privately undertake is a way of announcing to ourselves that we choose life in God over the satisfaction of our carnal desires which kills my body and soul.

Then, the true indicator of my love for Jesus can be measured by the sincerity of the effort I put in to completely uproot sin from my life. The problem of sin exists not in my body, or in the world or because of satan. It exists deep in my heart. The efficacy of the grace of God that redeems and transforms out heart is proportional to the genuine desire I have, the sincere effort I put in and the tireless perseverance I resort to, in order to avoid sin starting with the ones I fall into most frequently.

Do I really love Jesus? Or should we ask; do I really love myself? If I love myself, I would not choose sin. I love Jesus therefore I love myself.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Inextinguishable Happiness

Our happiness here on earth is an indicator of how happy we will be in eternity. Eternity in heaven is unquenchable happiness and it begins right here.

Happiness is not the absence of pain and anguish, but the Inextinguishable joy we receive in Jesus Christ. This is the joy of having 'found ourselves' in Christ. This very joy is what Jesus displays on the cross. Happiness is to be found in Christ crucified.

Jesus on the cross is not a sad person. Jesus is happy because he is detached to wealth, power, pleasure and honor, the very things in which we seek our happiness. Jesus has nothing to lose but only gains, immeasurable gains. What Jesus does on the cross is growing out of himself, surrendering himself totally to the will of the Father, and embracing what it takes to set his children free, for them to be eternally happy.

To be happy, we must despise what Jesus despised on the cross and love what Jesus loved on the cross.

Jesus said if you want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me. Happiest person is a disciple of Christ. The cue to happiness is to be found in understanding how Jesus handled his cross.

Jesus was a happy despite the visible pain, unbearable suffering, unreasonable abuse and the mockery. His inner peace is evident from his reactions. Look at him! He is calm, he is not provoked, he is resolved and he is willing. He prays 'father, may your will be done'.

He is in control. No amount of afflictions take away the joy within him. He is not seeking to be comforted, He is comforting us instead. 'Look mother, I make everything new' He tells his mother.  'Do not cry for me, but for yourselves and your children' He reminds the sorrowing women of Jerusalem.

He not only unconditionally forgives his persecutors, but intercedes for them to the Father ' Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do'. He wishes them well in the midst of the writhing pain. He knows what he is doing. He said to the thief crucified with him 'you will be with me in paradise today'. He does not curse anyone. He is composed. His joy is inextinguishable.

On the cross, He is in a constant dialogue with the Father. He is concerned about his duties. He entrusts his mother to his disciple John and John, is youngest disciple to his mother. He does everything according to his Father's will, nothing more, nothing less.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28