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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"Life in all its fullness“(John. 10,10)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

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The God of small things

By Fr. Michael Payyapilly VC

Recently, I made a wonderful trip to Lourdes. A place that is visited by thousands of pilgrims every day. We were a set of fifty pilgrims. We prepared ourselves with a lot of prayer. Visiting the famous baths at Lourdes, the grotto where the Mother appeared, the house of St. Bernadette was an experience in itself.  In Lourdes, there is also a tradition of making a good confession. So the night before we visited the sanctuary, many of the pilgrims came to me and made their confessions. I stayed up until 1:30 am listening to their confessions. Early morning, all of us went to the sanctuary, had a dip in the baths, and visited the other spots connected with the place. Towards the evening we were to celebrate the Mass in the little church at Lourdes. And the one thing I desired the most before that celebration was to make my own confession. I kept looking out for a priest. The place was filled with priests who were walking in groups and so I did not ask them, as I knew that if they were in a group they would not have the time to stop for it. As the time for the Mass approached I got desperate and kept telling the Lord that the only thing I wanted was to make my confession. Not finding any priest around I started walking the steps up to the church and there right in front of me was this young priest walking all by himself. I requested him for a confession and he most willingly obliged. As I was completing my confession to him I noticed a little badge on his clerical shirt which read ‘Confessor’. As I walked to the Church after the confession, I was so moved that my Lord would provide someone like that in the nick of time just because I asked.

Immediately after my trip to Europe, I went on a mission to Botswana, Africa. This was my maiden trip to Botswana and I was really excited as I have heard a lot about the African way of worshiping God. We had some really wonderful sessions and the Lord worked powerfully.  Another thing that I was looking forward to in Africa was to go on a jungle safari. I just wanted to get a glimpse of the African wildlife. On a free afternoon, we were taken for an African safari to a 5000 hectare game reserve. It was exciting to see a lot of the animals in their natural surroundings. We got to touch a tame cheetah and clicked photographs with it. As we were travelling in the jeep, the guide spoke to us about the rhinoceros. There were only eight of them in this game reserve and it was very difficult to sight these huge creatures. He said that it has been a month since he has sighted them. So I kept my eyes out for the rhinos. As the three hour safari was coming to an end, I was really disappointed that I did not get to see the Rhino. As it was time to turn back I closed my eyes and silently told the Lord, “Lord, I have come till here. I want to see at least one rhinoceros. Please Lord, at least one rhinoceros”. I opened my eyes and to my surprise we saw this huge rhinoceros and its tiny little baby walking parallel to our jeep. I could not believe my eyes - it was such a wonderful sight! Then to add to it, the two of them came right in front of our jeep and started running in front of the jeep. This whole thing took five to ten minutes. I clicked photographs and took a video, at the same time thanking the Lord for listening to a silly little prayer of mine.

These two incidents taught me a lot. When I wanted to make my confession it was my spiritual need. Maybe I could have made a confession anywhere else and maybe at a later date. But I cried out to the Lord and He sent me an answer just at the nick of time. I asked and he gave something that was not a huge necessity at that time. And at the game reserve I asked him for something that might have seemed a very silly prayer to anyone who heard it. But I realised that He was a God who would listen to my silly little prayers and send answers. It was not a big deal if I did not get to see the rhino. It was not like my life would come crashing down if I did not get an answer to my little prayer. But my Lord will give an answer even to a silly little prayer of mine.

Our Lord is not just a God who is an expert in disaster management. It is not only at times when we are totally broken or our families are going through major problems that we can call on him. He is also the God of the little things in our life. Are we able to pray silly little prayers to God? Pray for little things in our daily life? They need not be things that need His intervention but His intervention would make it sweeter for us. Let the Lord not only be the God of big things and big miracles, let Him also be the God of small things and tiny insignificant miracles. Our lives are made up of tiny incidents that we go through in our daily life. Are we able to make Jesus a part of it? If we don’t make Jesus a part of the tiny little areas of our life, then how can we call Him our Lord and Saviour? Are we going to restrict the Lord’s role in our life by deciding that some of our needs are too insignificant and too silly to bother Him about it? Would not our God love to be a part of the insignificant areas of our life too?

In the Bible we see some really silly prayers and silly requests. In Luke 4, we read about Jesus being asked by the disciples to heal Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick with fever. Now if we come to think of it, fever is not such a major illness that Jesus has to intervene. A fever takes its natural course and it goes away. That would be the worldly way of approaching it. It usually does not require a huge Divine intervention. It passes on. But the disciples put forward a very simple prayer to Him and He most willingly obliged. The Lord is interested not only in the major problems of our life but in our everyday simple problems and desires as well. In Matthew 17:24 we read about the controversy over the temple tax. The collectors of the temple tax came and asked Peter if his teacher paid the temple tax. Peter argued and said “Yes”. Which actually was not true because when Peter reached home Jesus asked him as to whom do the kings of this world take the tax – from the children or from others. To which Peter replies that “it is the others”. Then the Lord says, “However since we do not give offence to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and for me”. Why did the Lord do this? The Lord had already proved that the children are not meant to pay the tax. Then why is it that the Lord asks Peter to go and fish and get the coin and pay it? Isn’t it to satisfy the desire of Peter. It was to fulfil a kind of a silly desire of Peter’s - Peter wanted to prove that his master paid the tax. Instead of ignoring that silly desire, the Lord gives him what he needs.

Our God is a God who loves entering our daily life and giving answers to our little problems and prayers. Are we ready to allow Him into them? I remember once years back when I was studying in college, I was waiting to catch the bus back home. I waited for a few minutes and then started getting impatient. I softly told the Lord, “Jesus, I want you to send the bus in the next five minutes.” It was in reality, a very silly prayer. What is the big deal in waiting for a few more minutes for the bus to come in?  But I made that silly prayer and there in the next two minutes my bus just rolled in. I still cannot forget that moment. To many, this might seem like a really silly prayer. But isn’t that what the Lord is happy to listen to as well? The fact that we are letting Jesus enter into those silly little areas of our life as well, is something the Lord will always be happy about. A friend of mine recently messaged that she tried this out with the Lord. She asked the Lord that she wanted to see a rainbow and the Lord made it happen. She saw it. These are very silly prayers. More or less a childish prayer. Maybe elders might tell us that these things should not be prayed about. But we have to let Jesus enter into our everyday lives. Don’t restrict Him to our major problems. Don’t make Him have this ‘guest appearance’ and then go back till the next dramatic scene comes in. Let Him into every tiny detail of our lives. When we do that we will always have a companion in our Lord who will never find our prayers silly. If my silly prayer to see a rhinoceros is important to Him, then we can be assured that He is a God of not only of the big things, but also the God of the small things.

 
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