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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

"Hallowed be Thy name"(Lk 11:2) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

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Divine Call Archives

A CALL TO BE UNIQUE - Rev. Fr. Michael Payyappilly V.C.

I did most of my schooling in the United Arab Emirates. I can clearly recall the days when we used to come back for our holidays to Kerala. Being a village set up, the dress code among the locals was the simple shirt and a plain white dhothi. Being alien to this kind of a dress code, I used to walk around in my pants. I clearly remember being stared at just because of what I am wearing. A few years later, when I came to India for my higher studies, not much had changed. I recall once wearing knee length shorts to college, and for the next two days, I was the talking point in the village!

Visiting my parents a few months back, I found nearly everyone in pants and a few in the 'very controversial' knee length pants. Not a person was staring at them nor was any one of them a topic of discussion. Why and how did this change come about even in this very remote village? The change started in a small way when small-time cable channels started functioning in these remote areas. But now the big-time international channels are very common in even the remotest of villages. So no more is the western culture alien to any village. Even if the people do not understand the language, watching an 'English channel' is considered a status symbol. Slowly, everyone starts putting into practise what they are watching. This is how a westernised culture has systematically set in to even the interiors of our vast country, India. Basically, we start aping something that is alien to our culture. Our actions are influenced by what the world does and think.

This influence has taken place not only in our outer-self but also in our inner being. Every aspect of our life is being influenced by the world. For us Christians, this goes totally against what the Will of God is. We are uniquely chosen as the children of God. We are called to stand out amongst a crowd. We are supposed to proclaiming to the world that our influence is Jesus. This was the call of the people of Israel. In the Old Testament, we read that the Israelites had only leaders and judges. They had no king until Saul was chosen. There was a reason for this. The Lord was the king of the Israelites. In 1 Samuel Chapter 8, we read of the Israelites demanding for a king. When prophet Samuel reports this to the Lord, the Lord replies "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you but they have rejected me from being king over them." (1 Samuel 8:7) They outrightly rejected God as their king and influence. Though they were the only nation in the world which had God as their 'king', they were happy to be 'just like other nations'. They rejected their unique call and chose to be ordinary. From a higher pedestal they chose to degrade themselves to something lower.

In our day to day life, we as Christians, are supposed to be unique because we have God as our king and influence. But when we let the things of the world have an influence over the way we live, we are rejecting God as the king of our lives. We would rather be 'like the others in the world' than be unique. A young friend of mine asked me very innocently, "Can I have a girlfriend, now that I am in college?" I asked him why he asked such a question. He replied, "All my college mates have girlfriends." I told him, "Why do you want to be like them? You are unique, enjoy that uniqueness." He took it very positively. The problem here is not about falling in love. It is more about letting the world influence our decisions. As Christians, our Lord and King promise us guidance. When we get influenced by the world, we end up like the Israelites who wanted to be like the others. Never should we shed our uniqueness in order to put on the garb of the world! When we have God as our King, why should we try for someone or something lower? The Lord as the King of our lives keeps giving us. The world only 'takes away' from us.

When the Israelites asked for a king, the Lord warned them very clearly what kind of a king they would have. He says in 1 Samuel 8: 10-18, "So Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day." Every verse here starts with the words "he will take". The Israelites were demanding for a king would only 'take' from them. All through their history they had a God and king who 'gave' them. When under slavery they were 'given' freedom. When they were hungry they were 'given' manna in the desert. When they were hungry they were 'given' water to drink. Though they had a king who 'gave', they wanted a king who only 'takes'.

This is sometimes the case with us. We have a King who gives us all that is good for us, yet we go behind the worldly 'kings' who take away our inner joy, take away our inner peace, take away our health, take away our wealth. The Lord keeps warning us about the dangers of these kinds of kings but like the Israelites we are adamant that we want a change of king. For the Israelites, after the Lord, they never had a king who was without blame. Even the great King David made big mistakes. If we choose the world as king over the Lord, our fate will be no better than that of the Israelites. God is calling us to be unique. Let us take pride that in this world of sin, we are guided by the Ultimate Power.

Let us never degrade ourselves with choosing a king lower than the Lord our God!

 
Divine Updates

MAGNIFICAT in Chennai

Divine comes to Chennai with the 'Magnificat', on June 23, 2018. Fr. John Prince VC will lead the services. With special sessions for children.

Venue: Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - drcsydney@gmail.com. Hurry, as admission is limited.

Date: January 2018 - December, 2018

Retreats in Divine Retreat Centre, UK

Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate UK, has announced several English and Malayalam language retreats to be led by Fr. George Panackal VC and Fr. Joseph Edattu VC. All are welcome.

Dates: Jan - Dec, 2018

POWER 2018 at Divine Retreat Centre

DRC is back with the highlight of the year: the 13th International Youth Conference - POWER 2018. The very best international preachers and gospel bands will be here to lead us into worship. Be there to experience a totally different atmosphere of prayer. A Couples' Retreat and a Kids' Retreat will be held simultaneously. Don't miss it.

Date: July 22 - July 27, 2018

Divine Retreat Schedules

ENGLISH RETREATS

English retreats are held every week from Sunday to Friday. Special retreats are conducted for priests, religious and laity as well. Come and experience the Lord and grow in Him.

MALAYALAM RETREATS

Inner healing retreats, growth retreats, couples' retreats and youth retreats in Malayalam, are led by Fr. Mathew Elavumkal, Fr. Mathew Naickomparambil and Fr. Binoy Chackanikunnel.

OTHER LANGUAGES

Retreats in Konkani, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu

Every week, retreats are held in five different regional languages of India, apart from in the local language - Malayalam. The retreats are led by Vincentian priests and supported by powerfully anointed laity of God.

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