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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

"Revere Christ as Lord

"(1 Pet 3:15

) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

"Revere Christ as Lord

"(1 Pet 3:15

) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC


Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

The first proclamation of the Church made by Simon Peter after the Pentecost experience was the lordship of Jesus. "Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36). St Thomas, after having doubted the resurrection of Jesus, proclaimed that Jesus is the Lord and God. "Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (Jn 20:28). In all the proclamations after the Resurrection, the apostles emphasised that Jesus was the Lord, the Messiah and God.

“There is but one God, the Father… and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through him.” (I Cor 8:6)

In fact, it was this proclamation that was challenged by the people of the time. When Peter and the apostles spoke powerfully at the Sanhedrin, the highest council of the Jews, that Jesus was the Lord and Saviour, the High Priest and the members of the Council were infuriated, and they wanted to put the apostles to death. Here we read that Gamaliel, a highly respected teacher in the Council, defended the apostles recalling that from time to time, certain people like Theudas and Judas the Galilean appeared claiming to be a Messiah and attracting crowds, and with their death their movements dissolved. He warned them saying, "Be careful what you are about to do to these men... let them go. For if this endeavour or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God" (Acts 5:35-39). What Gamaliel was suggesting was the possibility that the Resurrection of Jesus was proof of the Divine origin of the ministry of Jesus. St Paul affirms the centrality of the Resurrection and Lordship of Jesus, "If Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith" (I Cor 15:14). In fact, Jesus three times, speaks of the last days of His life, that He would be betrayed, condemned and crucified. All the three times, He asserted, that He would be raised from death to life.  "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise" (Mk 10:33,34).

Not only was His death and resurrection foretold, even His birth was prophesied eight hundred years earlier as He would be born of a virgin. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel" (Is 7:14).

The word of God tells us that He had an existence even prior to His birth. "He is the image of the invisible God, the first- born of all creation. For in Him, were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible... He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:15-17).

As Gamaliel had argued, many great men, whether philosophers or sages, cult leaders or founders of religions, have attracted crowds, made an impression on history, however, they died like the rest of humankind. Something remarkably different about Jesus is that He rose from the dead and is alive today, continuing to transform lives as He did during His earthly sojourn.

“He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Saviour” (Acts 5:31)

In Caesarea-Philippi Jesus asked His disciples what people said about Him. Opinions of people differed. Some said He was a prophet as zealous as Elijah, as fiery as Jeremiah. And then He asked them what they thought about Him. It was Peter who replied "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." At this declaration of Peter, Jesus would respond with the significant declaration, "Simon you are blessed, because it is not flesh and blood that revealed it to you but my Father who is in heaven" (Mat 16:17). There is something very special about the context of this confession of faith. It occurred in Caesarea-Philippi which was built up by Tetrarch Philip as a fascinating place of earthly glory where Caesar was worshipped as the lord and god in a glamorous marble temple. It was with the setting of this culture that Peter asserts that Jesus is truly the Lord and God. It is not the glamour of the world that fascinated him, but the divine glory of the Son of God. It is such a confession that shall similarly save us.

St Paul writing to the Romans, emphasises, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom 10:9). In order to be saved, the first thing is to confess that Jesus is the Lord. This confession has an all- defining place in one's life.

The second requirement for salvation is to believe from the heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is not a martyr who died for a noble cause, or a revolutionary leader who led a great movement. Such leaders and martyrs have given their life for remarkable causes but their lives have ended with their death. All that remains is their memory. Jesus is different from all of them. The great witness of the empty tomb was that "He's not here. He's risen." Jesus, whom we believe in, is the Lord raised from the dead. We are able to relate to Him as a living God. We are able to experience Him as loving us, comforting us in the moments of our troubles and answering our prayers whenever we call upon Him. The martyrs of faith could boldly march to their martyrdom being sure of His presence with them. The sick feel His healing touch. The afflicted get comforted in His living presence. He is the Lord alive to His people.

The third requirement to be saved is to confess with the lips. This requirement is about bearing witness to what one believes. Our faith demands that we proclaim to others what we hold dear to our heart. As Pope John Paul II said, "If Jesus is good for me, He is good for everyone." The goodness of Jesus that one has experienced as salvation, should be announced to others that they also may be saved. Our faith experience has necessarily this social dimension to it.

"Do you believe that I can heal you?" (Mat 9:28)

The recognition of the lordship of Jesus opens our lives to His healing power. In The gospel of Matthew presents a centurion who comes to Jesus pleading with Him for the healing of his servant who was lying paralysed in his house, suffering dreadfully (Mat 8:5-13). Moved with compassion, Jesus tells him that He would accompany him to his home and heal the sick man. At this moment, what the centurion says amazes Jesus. "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it" (Mat 8:8,9). The centurion was part of a great system of Roman authority. The whole Roman Empire was built on a structure of authority and obedience. And he had a share in it. And he understood how it functions fool-proof. He addresses Jesus as Lord by which he was acknowledging, Jesus is the lord of the whole universe. He is the Lord having authority over the paralysis of his servant as well. It was enough for Jesus to say a word and the paralysis would obey and be gone. The centurion clearly recognised this lordship of Jesus which Jesus thought, not many among the chosen people could understand. Therefore Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith...You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you" (vv. 10,13). It was indeed the faith of the centurion that enabled him to recognise the Lordship of Jesus that unlocked the power of healing for his servant.

In Mark chapter 2, a paralysed man was brought to Jesus and the Lord said to him, "Your sins are forgiven." At that moment, the scribes were scandalised and questioning in their hearts as to how Jesus could claim authority to forgive sins. Jesus affirmed that He had authority to forgive sins on earth as He added, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home" (v. 11). It was an assertion of His authority over the physical ailment of the person. In moments of sickness, we feel helpless and abandoned, having no one to turn to. It is in such moments, we need to know that Jesus is in charge. He has authority over the brokenness of our life. If we turn to Him accepting His authority, He becomes our healer. Hence the invitation of the Lord, "Come to me, you who are tired and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mat 11:28). It is in moments of tiredness that the Lord is waiting to take authority over us. When we understand by faith that He is the lord of our lives and we turn to Him, we will find our healing and comfort in Him. In moments of our distress, we do not slip into despair because we know the one we adore as our Lord will reach His hand out and rescue us. That is why we call Jesus both Lord and Saviour.

The essential proclamation of Christian faith is summed up by St Paul. "Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2:11).

Prayer

Jesus we believe and proclaim you are our Lord and Saviour. You were sent by the Father to have authority over our lives. We surrender our lives to you, being determined to live for you. It is from you that we come and it is in you that we will have our final destiny. This sojourn on this earth, we want to make a life in you and for you. Give us the grace to wait upon you, to know your will and fulfil your plans for us at every moment. Amen.

 
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