Select language
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

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

Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

We are at the threshold of a new year. What does this year hold for us and what is it that we can look forward to? Some people expect catastrophes when they speak of the future. Certain others anticipate a breakthrough in some area of life or the other. Most expect a routine passage of the days, nothing very different from that of the previous years. The Bible however exhorts that we must be alert, prepared and look forward to the coming of the Lord. Waiting for the Lord is a dominant theme in the Bible. In the teachings of Jesus, the Lord invites us to wait for Him at every moment of our life. No situation in life is to be isolated from God. Our entire life must be a constant waiting for the revelation of the Lord. This, the Lord insists, is wisdom through several parables and teachings. The Bible ends with the cry of the whole Church, "Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, Come!" with the response of the Lord, "Behold, I am coming!" (Rev 22:20). To wait for the Lord and to receive Him constantly into our life is the hallmark of vibrant Christian living.

This theme becomes prevalent in the eschatological teachings of Jesus. Eschatology refers to the end times or the Second coming of the Lord. We find a typical teaching in Mark chapter 13, “But in those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory" (v. 24-26). What does Jesus mean by this prophecy of cataclysmic changes in the universe?

“Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” (Mat 24:11)

There are certain people who misinterpret these eschatological passages. By a strange calculation they will announce an exact date and moment in time when the world will end. Some would go further to present themselves as the safe resort assuring their adherents a secure passage beyond the end times. A few decades ago a former pastor and doomsday cult leader in America, by name Jim Jones managed to convince his followers that the end time had arrived and they would be taken up in some sort of rapture with him at the helm. This, he identified would happen in a location in a corner of the American continent. He gathered the people in that remote town, exhorting them to enter the rapture by consuming poison and administering poison first to the children. After engineering the death of over 900 of his followers, he shot himself dead. There ended a saga of disaster.

There has always been a steady appearance of doomsday prophets and prophecies. For instance, over a dozen groups believed and declared that the world would end in year 2000. Two years ago a lady told me that her pastor had a revelation that the city of Chennai would undergo three days of darkness and then the entire city would get submerged in the sea. Their followers began to pray with lit candles in their homes waiting for the end of the world. The city still stands. In America, a few years ago some so-called visionaries announced that the state of California would break off from the rest of the continent and drop into the sea. The exact date was announced. California remains thriving.  From time to time such false-prophets and sects emerge misleading people about the end times. These are in fact the aberrations in the interpretation of the word of God.

“Wait for the promise of the Father.” (Acts 1:4)

There is definitely a glorious day of reckoning when those who lived for the Lord will be glorified with Him. The early Church joyfully awaited this promised coming of the Lord. St Paul expresses this faith, “We eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who… will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).

There has always been a curiosity about the end of times. We have learnt from the past such speculation and curiosity had done no good. The Lord Himself guides us to what would be the right attitude in considering the future. The apostles asked Jesus when He would establish the kingdom. The question was about the end times. The answer of Jesus was clear: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by His own authority" (Acts 1:7). Jesus continued to tell them that their responsibility was to wait and pray for the Holy Spirit, and then after having been strengthened by the Power from above to become witnesses of the Lord. This indeed is the mission of the Church. At one time Jesus even said, "Of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mk 13:34).

While no one has been given the licence to speculate or announce the end time, every one of the disciples of the Lord have been commissioned to work for the spread of the kingdom of God. This is with the vision that every human person may be saved in Christ.

“My steadfast love shall not depart from you.” (Is 54:10)

When Jesus prophesies cataclysmic events in the universe, He intends to impress on us that nothing material is stable in the universe. Everything which is certain in our evaluation and everything we count as definite and take for granted will be shaken up. The sun will be darkened. The moon will not give its light. The stars will fall from the sky. Jesus is warning us that everything will be passing away. In fact every night as we go to sleep the one thing we are most assured of is that the next morning when we wake up the sun would have risen and be shining. The one thing definite as the sun sets is that the moon will shed its light and the stars will twinkle in the distant horizon. These that we all take for granted must one day fail. However there is one thing Jesus says will not fail us and that is His word. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Mat 24:35). When everything is shaken up and everything certain collapses, the Lord will come in glory. God is the sure presence in the fast changing world. Nothing else can remain forever, however tightly we cling to these. Whatever structures and systems of this world we found our lives on as our security and comfort, every one of these will fall apart. Even this body which is always there with us will let us down and decay in the mud of the earth. There's nothing material that I can hold on to as my assurance. The Lord alone will be there for me. What remains forever is my relationship with Jesus. Whatever else I count on as certain is bound to fail me. Our eyes convey to us the certainty of the material things. Our mind is fascinated about the glory and pleasures of this world. Our heart is attached to the relationships that we build up.

I have a dear friend who was working in the media. I always admired him for his quick wit, intelligence and his grasp and analysis of the matters of the world. He had risen up in his career, was widely appreciated and in fact had a strong following. Some months ago his wife had messaged me seeking prayers for his health. When I went on a mission to his town, I visited him. He welcomed me with his usual charming smile. In the next few minutes I was struck that he never uttered a word. Later as he tried to converse he was not able to complete the sentence. His wife explained that he had been diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease and the doctors were trying out various treatments. She explained to me that he listens and even seems to understand but is not able to retain anything in his memory. He was therefore unable to respond or participate in any conversation, so much so that he was getting reclusive. I looked at him and I saw his face had turned sad. He told me that he was frustrated and experienced deep sorrow. It struck me that moment that indeed nothing is permanent, even that which we take pride in as our own accomplishment. We need to be prepared to be deprived of every material asset. I was reminded at the same time of the promise of the Lord that in such trying times He is sure to be there by our side comforting us. He is the rock that we need to build our lives on. I drew my friend to the little altar in his living room. I told him to just look towards the Lord and love him. As we spent a few moments there I could see a certain peace envelop him.

“Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil 3:20)

We will all pass away. The message of Jesus is that we should not squander away our lives by attempting to build a city in this world as if it would be a refuge for us all the time. On this earth we are but pilgrims on the way, ever alert to receive the Lord into our lives. He is the way, the truth and the life, constantly inviting us into His presence. Remember the invitation of Jesus, "Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mat 11:28). When the structures and systems of this world burden us and our relationships and responsibilities wear us out, the Lord is there offering us His renewing presence.

To ensure that His disciples are on the right track, the question Jesus asks Simon Peter is very relevant, "Do you love me more than these?" (Jn 21:15). The question is about what the disciple considered as the utmost priority of his life. The disciple responded that he counted the Lord as the supreme value of his life, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." The commitment of the disciple was that Jesus would be the focus of his life. This indeed is the essence of a faith that anchors us.

I was talking to a young college student who was sick with cancer and undergoing radiations in a hospital. His cancer was diagnosed to be in an advanced fourth stage. He knew that death was at hand. But when I talked to him he did not show any fear or despair. In the prime of his youth, life was slipping away. He however did not show any regret or resistance. With a smile on his face he requested me to pray for him. I asked him if there was any specific intention I should pray for. With the same smile he responded, "Father please pray for me that I may be with the Lord always." I told him that this was in fact what the Lord promised us through the writing of St. Paul. "We shall always be with the Lord" (I Thess 4:17). While I was praying for him I was so amazed that he had come to the right attitude of Christian faith. Though he was still living in the world he was totally detached from this earthly life. Nothing counted important for him in this world. There was no seeking of any comfort or relief. He was steadily moving along into the hands of the Lord. All that counted for him was the promise of the Lord that He would be there at the end of his earthly sojourn to take him to eternal bliss. He would have found the true meaning of his baptismal vows when he was dead to this world and alive to the Lord. After I prayed he said to me that he can feel the presence of Jesus always comforting him. When at certain moments the pain becomes acute he would call upon the Lord and he would always hear the whisper, "I'm there for you." He knew it was the consoling voice of the Lord. I reminded him of the Lord’s assurance, "Everything will pass away but my word will not pass away." The whole material world was crumbling around him. The earthly life was also slipping away. What remained was the all important presence and the word of the Lord.

We could sadly be deceived by the seeming stability and constancy of this universe. We imagine and strive to build a lasting city on the shifting sands of the earth. In the process we forget that it is only God who remains as the surety of our life. When Jesus speaks about the end times He is not telling us of a certain time when the world will come to an end, but that everything is perishing. This is an invitation to hold on to Him and find our life and our comfort in Him. As we enter the New Year we open our heart to the promise of the Lord that He will be there for us always. Unexpected things are bound to happen. The things we count on could let us down and the people we trust in could fail us. But the Lord remains always there for us. With joyful confidence we declare with St Paul, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

Prayer

Lord God you constantly invite us towards life. Your word is truth and we can confidently bank our lives on the certainty of your love and presence. We shall not be afraid of any loss or mishap for your love is better than life. As we step into the New year, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us that we may strive to live for your glory, proclaiming your goodness to the ends of the earth. Amen.

 
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 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

Hindi Convention Ojas 2019

The Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our ninth Hindi convention, in 2019. Two retreats will be held simultaneously on the campus; one for adults and another for couples and youth. All are welcome.

Date: May 26 - May 31, 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

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Sydney

Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2019. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - drcretreatrego@gmail.com or drcsydney@gmail.com. Hurry, as admission is limited.

Date: January 2019 - December, 2019

Potta Convention 2019

Potta-Divine's annual Potta Convention will be held at the Potta Ashram, this February. The convention will be led by stalwarts in the Catholic Charismatic ministry. Please come and be blessed beyond measure. All are welcome.

Date: Feb 20 -24, 2019

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. Joshi Kochukudiattil, 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.

Facebook Twitter Blog 
Online Donation
We run purely on your contributions.

We invite you to donate and spread the Good News to millions
Read more about it
Copyright © Divine Retreat Centre, All Rights Reserved
Web design and maintenance by Preigo Fover Technologies