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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"I dwell with the crushed and the dejected“ (Is 57:15)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Divine Call Archives

Do Christians practise what they preach?

By Fr. Michael Payyapilly VC

Of all the characters during the passion of Jesus, the one character I have always found silent but mysterious is Barabbas or also known as Jesus Barabbas. The word ‘Barabbas’ literally means ‘son of the father’. The Gospels describe him as a bandit (John 18:40); as a murderer and an insurrectionist (Lk 23:18; Mk 15:7).

Though there are different opinions about who Barabbas was, the fact was that, the man was famous amongst the people. They knew him by name. For the crime of murder and for inciting a rebellion against Rome, he was to be given the worst punishment of the time – death by crucifixion. But as the Bible would record, the governor of the Judea, had a custom of releasing a prisoner during the Passover. Pontius Pilate by giving the crowd an option of choosing who they wanted, expected the people to ask for Jesus’ freedom. But the mob chose Barabbas. There inside the prison, Barabbas was preparing for his last few hours. He was either brave or foolish to choose to stand up against the Romans and now he was to be humiliated in front of all the people as a warning to everyone that their fate would be the same if they stood against Rome. Was Barabbas defiant at that moment in prison; was he still proud of what he did; was he defeated in spirit, no one would ever know. But one thing was sure, Barabbas was preparing for his last few hours that day. And so unexpectedly the news would come to him that he was being set free because another prisoner has taken his place. A ransom was paid for him.  It is so striking that Jesus was ransomed for Jesus Barabbas – the Son of the Father was ransomed for a man whose name literally translated ‘son of the father’!

Barabbas would walk off free that day – a new lease of life. Freedom was given to Barabbas. Freedom – physically and spiritually. As Barabbas walked away a free man, people turned their attention to the crucifixion of Jesus as Barabbas quietly slipped off. A question that has always haunted me was - from there,where did Barabbas go? What happened to Barabbas? Details about Barabbas was never again mentioned in scriptures nor in history. He played a cameo role for a few sentences in the Bible. But a role that changed the course of his life forever. And yet we do not read about him after that. And it was not like he was unrecognizable. No one would forget the man who escaped the jaws of death. Yet nothing is known about him. He faded off, never to be heard of again. A man whose life the Lord had saved, accepted his freedom and walked away into the silent pages of history.

The sad thing about Barabbas was that he got another shot at life and he let it go to waste. His freedom and the reason for his freedom was kept hidden by him and so he faded away. He was one who was bought with a price but turned passive in his approach to his freedom. Though he was free he was actually dead within. A person who does nothing with the freedom that the Lord gives him/her is a person who will fade away to a silent death within the self.When the Lord walked to Calvary with the cross, it was not only Barabbas who got a lease of life, it is us too.The Lord has saved us. Like Barabbas, He has touched our lives powerfully. He was ransomed for us. His blood was the price. Like Barabbas we too have walked away free. Now it is time we asked ourselves ‘what have we done with the freedom the Lord has given us?’ Have we just kept it within ourselves and done nothing about it? Have we, like Barabbas, ended up fading away by doing nothing about the freedom the Lord has won for us? Have we turned into a passive Christian?

When do we turn into a passive Christian? A passive Christian is one who has experienced the touch of the Lord but has done nothing at all with that experience. Keeping the freedom the Lord has won for us safe within us and not bringing it alive in our daily life is not the way Christianity is to be lived. Our Christianity has to spill over to our daily life. That is when we become active Christians. That is when we make worthwhile,the ransom that was paid for us. I remember a person who I met at a retreat. She had attended many retreats before. But speaking to her I got the feeling that there was something different in her approach to her faith. She said that she would spend a lot of time in prayer. She would sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament from 9 am till 6 pm. She said she loved those moments and I was really edified. But later she told me that she sat that way because she did not want to talk to anyone as they would make her lose her spirituality! She has not been speaking to her brother because she ends up fighting with him. She does not look at her neighbor and has nothing to say to her even when she come across this person because she is not on good terms with her. So what she is basically doing, is living a life of a passive Christian. Spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament is good but when you use that to just safe guard your spiritual experience in reality you are killing all the grace within that spiritual experience. We end up passive Christians and a passive Christian is a dead Christian. It is important that our ‘Christian-ness’ spills over into our daily life. It has to spill over into our relationships, into our conversations,into the way we approach our difficulties and our challenges. People should see our approach to life and they should be able to recognize the Christian-ness in our approach to life. We cannot hide our spirituality and expect it to bear fruit.

It is important to ask ourselves if we are people who think like a Christian in all that we do. If we have not reached that stage of thinking like a Christian in all we do, we will end up a passive Christian who restricts our spirituality to a Sunday Mass on even to the daily one hour of Mass or a daily rosary and nothing more than that. We might make ourselves believe that we are doing our bit but Christianity is not about doing ones‘bit’ but living our faith all through. The ransom that was paid for us has to be valued for us to be active Christians.In stark contrast to Barabbas, we have Peter, Zacchaeus, Nicodemus, Paul. They are all people who valued the freedom they found in Jesus and did not let themselves fade away after their experience with Jesus. They grew from there and became active Christians. Their life oozed their ‘Christian-ness’. When Barabbas protected his freedom, these men lived their freedom. When freedom got from Jesus is lived it becomes salvific for others as well. And so those men turned into a blessing for others as well. A waste was the freedom given to Barabbas! He did nothing with it. A blessing was the freedom given to Peter, Zacchaeus, Nicodemus and Paul. It changed lives. It is important that we started living and thinking like Christians in all that we do in our daily life. And this would be applicable for even the simplest of things we do and say. In our decisions, our speech, our thoughts, our actions, our relationships, our very approach to life – may we ooze our Christian-ness.

Divine Updates

39th National Youth Retreat

Our annual National Youth Retreat will be held at the Divine Retreat Centre. Come and let the word of God refresh you. Simultaneous retreats for couples, children and Bible nursery to be held. Contact Divine Youth for more details.

Date: May 19 - 24, 2019

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - 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, 2019

POWER 2019 at Divine Retreat Centre

DRC is back with the highlight of the year: the 14th International Youth Conference - POWER 2019. 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 21 - July 26, 2019

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