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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"Behold, I make all things new“(Rev 21:5)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Divine Call Archives

Are you making Christ's yoke harder for others?

By Fr. Michael Payyapilly VC

The Lord said, Come to me all you who that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30).  This is a verse that gives so many of us a lot of comfort.  When people are burdened with the pressures of life and the brokenness of life, it is this verse that comforts them. It is one of the more popular verses in the Bible.  But what happens if the yoke of Jesus itself, which is supposed to be easy, starts getting heavy and burdensome? What if the thing that is supposed to sooth us becomes a thorn?

A retreatant who was going through a lot of difficulty and trying to do what is right, once told me, “Father, I’m scared that I will start hating God.”  That sentence shook me a lot.  We are no Gods, we are simple human beings, and at times trying to become perfect like God can be very tiresome.  Many times the youth come to me and speak about the struggle they go through to live a correct and holy life.  They describe it as “constant pressure”. They are fighting a daily battle trying to live up to the expectations put forward by their Christian community.  Many times we term those who go wrong in life as backsliders, sinners and then we end up condemning them.  They are looked upon as Judas’.  Suddenly they become an embarrassment for us.

All of us are on our pilgrimage to the Lord trying to lead good lives on this earth. When we come tired to the Lord with the burdens of our life, gently, He puts onto us His yoke. From then onwards we have been trying our level best to answer and live his command to “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” (1 Peter 1:15).  With millions of others we carry the gentle yoke that Jesus has given us. But some times along the path a few of us are not able to pull well, may be because of our human frailties.  Even at those moments, the Lord never has a problem, He understands.  But it is us, the fellow carriers of this yoke, that get irritated and agitated.  We end up being critical about their lack of effort, pass loose judgments. Is the yoke of Jesus becoming burdensome for others because of us, the fellow carriers of this yoke?  It is time we asked ourselves, what our approach is towards the fellow carriers of the Yoke.  Especially during the times when they are struggling to carry it well enough. Many times we have a mob mentality, blame the others and find pleasure in it. The sinful woman was brought to Jesus in John 8. The Pharisees and scribes made her stand in front of everyone and wanted to condemn her.  They just did not care what could have been going through her mind.  It was worse than being stripped naked.  They were people who claimed to be the teachers of Israel, but for them it was all about right and wrong. They didn’t care about what she was going through. Do we turn out like them at times?

The early Christian community always helped each other in the practice of their faith. Obviously not all of them were perfect.  But they succeeded in their pilgrimage to the Lord because of the community support. There was true love and concern.  St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians were letters of correction. He had found that many of them were doing things that were not right in the sight of God.  But though he was hard on them, there was a lot of love in his approach and he did portray it out.  That kind of a ‘love approach’ actually won the people of Corinth back.  He helped them out, when he found that they were a little weak. He helped them with love.  Today we do tend to condemn people who we think are not doing right.  Let us remember that we are carrying that Yoke that Jesus gave because once, we too were broken and the Lord gently put it on us.  Just because our burdens are light today, let us not be critical about those who are struggling. In Mathew 18:23 ff we read the Lord giving the parable of the Unforgiving Servant.  The slave owed the King ten thousand talents.  A talent was worth fifteen years of wage for a laborer.  ‘Ten thousand talents’ was an indication of an impossible debt to clear.  But yet the King clears every bit of it. The lightness of the slave’s heart would have been so great. He was allowed to go scot free.  But barely a few minutes later, inspite of this act of love and forgiveness fresh in his mind, he gets hold of another slave who owed him a hundred dinarii. A dinarii was only a days wage.  It was not much to repay. But yet the slave gets hold of his friend and treats him badly.  How easily he forgot the Kings forgiveness and act of love.  Aren’t we at times like this?  God takes away our burdens and grants us peace but when our fellow brethren struggle we end up criticizing and condemning.

Jesus had this great ability to help people out of their misery.  Yes, he primarily came to preach ‘repentance’. This we see in Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” Yes he was also stern when it came to aspects of sin.  Thus he would always repeat “Go and sin no more”.  But when people made mistakes, He had a very compassionate heart.  He helped them up.  He nurtured them back to health, be it physical, mental or spiritual.  This is the attitude He wants us to have towards our brethren who struggle with difficult situations and questions in their life.  When a person struggles with The Yoke, it is not a time to stamp all over him/her.  They would end up hating the very Yoke that Jesus gave as a comfort.  That yoke itself would end up as a burden.  When our brethren are struggling with the Yoke, we take up a bit more of the burden for them.  When a person struggles or falls in spiritual journey, it is a time to help them to heal, not a time to put salt into the wounds.   The Lord says “if another member of the Church sins go and point the fault… If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector.” (Mt 18:15-17)  It is interesting to note, that Jesus treated the gentiles and the tax collectors with love and concern.  He nursed them back to health with his love and understanding.  That is what He asks us to do.

People don’t go to heaven alone.  They help many on the way to reach there.  If we watch migrating birds we see them flying in a V formation.  There is a reason why they do this.  Flying in the V formation makes flying easier. The V formation benefits all the birds, but the bird in the lead position has to work the hardest. At that particular point, it is capable of doing so.  When this bird tires, it will drop out of the lead position and fall further back into one of the lines of the V. Another bird from further back will rapidly move forward to take the leading position and maintain the formation. This rearrangement gives all birds the responsibility of being the leader as well as a chance to enjoy the maximum benefits of being in the middle of the formation.  This helps all the birds reach their destination.  As we make our pilgrimage towards the Lord, many of us together will make things easier for all of us.  Yes sometimes the one who is spiritually stronger at that moment of time will have a bigger load to carry.  But together we will make it.  Let us carry the yoke of our Lord with Christian understanding and love; it may just help a disturbed soul to get stronger in the Lord.

 
Divine Updates

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

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

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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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