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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

"Blessed are all those who wait for the Lord"

(Isaiah 30:18)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

"Blessed are all those who wait for the Lord"

(Isaiah 30:18)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC


Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose” (Lk 4:43). When we look at the three years of the public ministry of Jesus, we find Him always on the move. He does not linger in any one place to establish a sort of headquarters. He moves from town to town, from the synagogue to the sea shore to the streets of Jerusalem and Jericho, through Jewish strongholds and gentile regions and even through the outskirts. He seemed to have much to cover in his brief sojourn on this earth. Often the gospels capture and present for us the Lord in a hurry. He is headed towards a particular destination. And attached to every journey and destination, there would be a momentous encounter with a suffering individual. As we hear that the Lord is travelling, soon we would find someone waiting for Him.

“Call on the Lord while He is near” (Is 55:6)

Chapter 8 of the gospel of Luke begins this way: “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God” (Lk 8:1). After covering the regions of Galilee he crosses the lake to the Gerasene country. On his return he rushes again to the house of Jairus. On this leg of the journey a woman with a haemorrhage was anxiously waiting by the roadside as though this was the appointed moment of her life. She pushed through the crowd violating every norm for it seemed clearly for her that the Lord passing her way would be a ‘now or never’ moment. The gospels describe that she suffered twelve years with a haemorrhage. In that age and culture, a woman having a haemorrhage was considered as cursed by God. She was defined as unclean and had to live an isolated existence. This secret pain of uncleanness had taken away all the joy of her life and hope for the future. Through these twelve years of dark hopeless existence she waited patiently with an astounding expectant hope for the Lord. We must consider whether she had a reason to wait at all when she was already labeled as cursed? Yet we know she waited with an absolute faith. “If I but touch His clothes, I shall be cured” (Mk 5:28). Jesus heals her and honours her faith as He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Lk 8:48). Her waiting was the expression of that saving faith.

In the gospel of Luke chapter 19, Jesus is passing through the land of Jericho with crowds surrounding Him. The Lord however is clear about his route as he purposely walks toward a tree, stopping beneath it for there was a man anxiously waiting for Him atop that very tree. His name we are told is Zacchaeus. He knew he had no right to be anywhere near Jesus. The crowds would allow him no leeway to reach the Saviour. He was a betrayer of his own people, collecting taxes by treacherous and cruel means to fill the coffers of the Romans, the occupying force. He was hated by every reasonable Jew and yet he had a unreasonable hope that he would find mercy with by the Son of God. Much as he was intent on encountering the Lord there was a well founded misgiving about the reaction of the crowd and perhaps even of the Messiah. Hence he climbs the tree well camouflaged by the leaves of the sycamore. The crowds pass and as he gets a glimpse of Jesus he hears the Messiah call him by name! "Zacchaeus come down!" His waiting was not futile. The Saviour announces that it is to the house of Zacchaeus that he was headed much to the consternation of the crowds and the criticism of the religious leaders. Zacchaeus heard the declaration of salvation pronounced by the Messiah, "Today salvation has come to this house." A divine force liberates him from the powers of evil that had enslaved him in hate, greed and isolation. He rises to love and generosity as he declares to Jesus, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold” (Lk 19:8). Zacchaeus had become a new person and this salvation flooded his household.

The gospel of John shows Jesus entering into the crowded scenario of the pool of Bethesda where a paralysed man lay waiting for the last thirty eight years, which can be counted as more than a lifetime! A deep bitterness and gnawing despair had set in and yet hope was not completely eradicated. Every now and then he would watch the water stirred. He understood, according to the belief of the time was, that an angel stirred it. He would see a sick person rushed down to the pool by caring relatives. He would see this person emerge from the waters healed and with the accompaniment of great jubilation among those who cared for the person. There was, however, no one for him. There was the pain of abandonment, the scourge of his sickness and yet there was an imagination: If only someday someone would come by there, who would with great concern for him stand by him, and who when the waters are stirred would take him down and he would receive his healing. He did not know how that would happen but he held on to that ray of hope in the corner of his heart. That meagre little faith was considered and generously rewarded by God. There came Jesus who stood by him asking him, "Do you want to be healed?" His waiting had not been in vain. His tears were considered. His cry was heard. God had intervened.

“Pray always without getting discouraged” (Lk 18: 1)

Waiting is all about faith. When one is determined to mould one’s own destiny in one’s own way, God is not in the picture and waiting is dispensable. When God wants to achieve something in the history of salvation from anyone God requires a waiting from that person. Right at the outset we see the call to faith that God gives to Abraham. A definite mission was given to him to be the father of nations but he had to wait for God's time. No details or time frame was revealed to him. When all around him would laugh at him for even imagining to become a father, he trusted God and waited for over two and a half decades! He had to trust in God even to the extent of willing to sacrifice his son for his commitment to the Almighty. Abraham tied his son to the altar and raised his dagger up ready for the final strike and only then there came a signal from heaven not to kill the son. In his waiting he discovered that His God would never fail to provide him. In this experience did He make that total surrender in the hands of God.

Before the Lord ascended to heaven, the disciples asked Him about the time when He would establish his kingdom. "Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). The disciples were yet of the spirit of the world not wanting to wait for God's time. Even to this day we see there are people who claiming to be prophets of the kingdom predict exact times and places where the second coming of Jesus would happen. Jesus responded to their query, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by His own authority..." (Ac 1:7). He directs them instead to "wait and pray" for the Holy Spirit. The Lord is directing us to the core of Christian faith. Waiting and praying is the texture of our faith.

"I wait for the Lord... in His word I put my hope." (Ps 130:5)

Jesus presents in the Prodigal Son the personification of sin. The failure of the Prodigal Son was that he was not ready to wait for his father's time to prepare a paradise for him. He was in a hurry to take up his destiny in his hands. He grabbed whatever resources he could from his father and went his own way. That stubborn insistence to have it his way and immediately had him end up in the misery of the pig sty. In the dark despair of loneliness he caught a glimpse revealing the of truth about his life. That light enabled him to rise up from the dirt of the pigsty. Wanting to be a servant he ended up in the arms of the father. Here he realised that he was already a son. The doors of the paradise of the father's house were opened to him. It was a celebration. Becoming a servant is the sure way to the heart of the father. The servant is one who waits on the master seeking to do his will.

Mother Mary was given a message that she was called to conceive and bear the Son of God. She could not understand all the implications and consequences of this heavenly mission. She was deeply troubled and yet when she understood that this was the will of God she surrendered her life. She was ready to wait for God's will to be done in her life, whatever it might cost her. "Here am I your servant; let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). She came to fulfil the most glorious mission given to a human person. Elizabeth called her most blessed because she showed the courage to let go her life for it to be taken upin the hands of God. "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45). That absolute belief in the faithfulness of God is what empowers one to fulfil the purpose of God in one’s own life.

“Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” (Is 40 :31)

Some ten years ago, a young couple came here for retreat. They were engineers highly qualified, well employed and having a high standard of life. But there was a gaping vacuum in their lives in that they did not have a child. Both the husband and wife were very anxious to become parents. Doctors diagnosed that the sperm count of the husband was very low and hence it would be difficult for them to have a baby. The doctors suggested that they take matters in their own hands. Medical science offered a way for them to get a baby immediately. They suggested conception through the artificial method of IVF (in vitro fertilisation). The doctors told him it was very common and highly successful, also since the percentage of infertility was rising. The couple for some reason felt hesitant and fearful and came to seek my prayers that they may have the courage to launch on the treatment. I explained to them that the medical procedure of IVF is not permitted by the Church for several reasons. Importantly, a child is to be accepted from the hands of God and not from a test tube. A child is the most precious gift of life that God places in the womb of a mother in the most natural way. Tampering with this sacred process would be against the will of God. Moreover though the sperm count is low, it was enough to have one sperm for the fertilisation of the egg. And nothing is impossible for God. I advised them to wait and pray for God's time to give them a child. They accepted God's plan whole heartedly and they said they were ready to wait until God would give them a child according to His gracious plan. They were coming every year for the retreat to thank God for the gift of a baby that God would give them. They were already praising God for this blessing that they were sure God had in store for them. They held on to the promise that the fruit of the womb was the gift of God. Two years ago when they came here, the husband and the wife were holding a baby each. These were the twins God had given them. Standing before the congregation of the retreatants, they narrated their testimony and praised God saying that the waiting was worth it because they were sure that their children were God's own gift.

Modern man goes navigates through life by calculations and manipulations. He wants his way at any cost. He is not ready to wait either for God or for anyone other than himself. He is guided by his own determination to have it all his way. When he flounders he would manipulate others to to consider him as still being right and practical. In the process too many mistakes are made and too many graces are lost. The way of faith invites us to wait upon God, allowing God to mould our lives. Our decisions are to be made in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Our goals are to be set in the light of the gospel. Our joys are to be found in the presence of the Lord. Our relationships are to be guided in the love of the Spirit. This is the life of faith where we are bound to encounter the Lord who does not not disappoint those who wait on Him.

 
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

Retreat for Priests, Religious and Lay Ministers

Divine Retreat Centre is organising a retreat for Christian leadership - priests, religious and laity in Christian leadership roles. Please spread the word to Christian leaders and religious you know.

Date: 28 July - 2 Aug 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

4th India Catholic Deaf Retreat 2019

A Divine Mission Retreat will be held at the Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, for those with hearing disabilities. The retreat is organised by the Catholic Deaf Association of India. Please spread the word.

Date: May 24 - 26, 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 Vincentian priests.

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.

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