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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

"We are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another"

(2 Cor 3:18

)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

"We are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another"

(2 Cor 3:18

)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC


A young man came to meet me to pray for him because he suffering much from a wound on his leg. He had received this wound in the course of the rigorous exercise training that he was going through. He was an athlete preparing to take part in the pole vaulting event at the National Championship. He was sharing with me the extreme hardships that went into the preparations. His coach was intent on helping him, but then he often felt the coach was too severe on him. In the beginning the coach placed the bar on the two stands at a manageable height for him to jump over. Every time he excelled however the coach would just keep raising the bar to a higher level. At those times when he was unable to cope up and failed to succeed at crossing a new level, the coach would admonish him and send him for a set of rigorous exercises. He had to wake up very early in the morning to complete the exercises the coach had prescribed. Every time the coach presented him the promise that he would be able to get a medal in the National level and that dream would give him a thrill in his heart and he would try harder. The harder he tried, the coach would only have the bar raised even higher and one day he suffered a severe wound. Yet the coach had no sympathy for him.  In a severe tone the coach told him that if he wasted his time nursing his wounds he would never realise the dream of the prize. The coach gave him a more brilliant vision, telling him that he had in him the calibre of going to the Asian games and perhaps he could even make it to the Olympics. I prayed for this young man and promised to continue to pray for him.

When I was praying for this young man, I was reminded of a challenge Jesus offers us - the challenge of loving others. The lowest level in our relationship with others is to love those who love us and keep away from those who don’t care for us. This is the natural human tendency Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy’” (Mat 5:43). Then the Lord continues however to raise the standard of love to an unimaginable level by directing us, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mat 5:44).

“All things work together for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28)

Often we could identify that someone or the other is creating a problem for us and or is keeping away from us. The prospect of meeting certain persons could make us feel uncomfortable. We purposely avoid one or the other. Such instances seem very natural to us and we take these as part and parcel of the style of life. There is however one great truth Scripture presents to us which is in fact a revelation, crucial and relevant to every one of us. God has not created any human being to be a curse to anyone else. Rather everyone is placed in this world by God to be a blessing to everyone else. The patriarch Abraham was the first to be chosen by God in the history of salvation as the father of all believers. When God called him and presented him his mission of life, Abraham was clearly told that he would be a blessing to all, “All the families of the earth will find blessing in you” (Gen 12:3). After the choice of Abraham, every human person is a source of blessing. When I close my heart against anyone, I’m blocking myself from a channel of grace. The blessings God has planned to convey to me through that person will be lost forever. When Jesus went into the room of the dead daughter of Jairus to raise her to life, it is very significant that he did not go alone (Mk 5:37). He took with him James, John and Peter, three of his disciples, so that there might be a prayer in common. Jesus could have raised her to life by His own working, but he wanted his companions to be associated with Him in the flow of that grace in restoring that child.

God gave the Ten Commandments for man to follow in order that the graces may flow into humankind. Jesus summed up these Ten Commandments into two, love of God and love of neighbour. Jesus made a very significant assertion that love of neighbour was equal to the love of God.  Jesus explained, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. l The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Mat 22:37-40).

St John who knew the mind of Jesus affirms categorically that we cannot love God without loving the neighbour (I Jn 4:20). The blessedness of God’s love would flow into us only in proportion to the blessedness of loving our fellow beings. Hatred of a fellow being will keep the face of God clouded from the heart of man. Jacob, the son of Isaac fled from Esau in fear (Gen 27). He spent years in dread of his brother. Because he had deceived his brother, the blessings of God had been denied to him. He himself had been deceived by his father-in-law Laban. Finally he decided he would return to get reconciled with his brother. On the way he met God in Peniel. Strengthened by this God experience he went to meet his brother and that encounter in Succoth became a God-experience for both of them. Jacob would testify saying this, “To see your face is for me like seeing the face of God” (Gen 33:10).

“Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:2)

Forgiving someone who wounded me is a challenge because the memories remain alive. There is no way the hurting memories could be erased. In computers there is a system of deleting data. But in the human brain the neurons transmit messages and these can neither be undone nor removed unless one is debilitated by dementia. Hence the challenge of dealing with these memories. There could be someone who blocked my promotion purposely to defeat me, someone who spoiled my good name, someone who deceived me, someone who broke my heart rejecting me, someone who created divisions in my family - so goes the long list of people who have left indelible hurts.

It is not the Lord alone who speaks of forgiveness. There are great individuals who exhorted humankind to forgive. However, when Jesus commands us to forgive He presents the glorious promise, “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for He makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mat 5:44,45). This promise of Jesus is the greatest of all the promises God has made to us, because when we become the children of God, we inherit all the blessings. It is children who have the right of all that the father possesses. Our life on earth becomes truly blessed with incomparable blessings beyond what we can ever dream of. Jesus elaborates on the extent of this blessing. When we are the children of God, our heavenly Father cannot but answer every one of our prayers. “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance” (Mk 11:24,25). Moreover everything we do is acceptable to God and will be crowned with success. Jesus explains this by saying that when we forgive, our life sacrifice will be accepted by God, “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mat 5:23,24). If we happen to commit any sin and powers of sin get rooted in us, such roots will be plucked out by God’s grace. “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you” (Mat 6:14). In the moments of our ailments we would know to confess our sins and pray is the channel of healing. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (Jas 5:16).

What Jesus offers us is a great promise - the promise of raising us up as the children of God. When that promise remains glowing in our hearts, the wounds of our hearts will be healed. In fact that is the only healing for hurting memories. Until the promise of Jesus is accepted wholeheartedly we will never be able to forgive anyone. I remember what the young athlete told me, “Every time I exercise and my muscles hurt and my joints ache, and this wound begins to burn... the promise of the coach of a sure possibility of a gold medal at the international level makes me set aside the hurts and press on forward.” What St Paul says, “Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13,14). This upward calling is what Jesus holds out for us when He talks of being sons and daughters of God and thus becoming perfect “as the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mat 5:48).

Prayer

Lord Jesus you breathed your last praying for everyone who broke you on the cross. You even justified them to the Father by explaining that their ignorance caused them to fail. May that prayer of love, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” echo in our hearts. We praise you for your new commandment of forgiving love that sets us firmly on the path of that highest call of being children of the Heavenly Father. Give us the grace to recognise everyone who hurts us as channels of your blessings. May we thus spread your healing love in this broken world around us. Amen.

 
Divine Updates

MAGNIFICAT in Chennai

Divine comes to Chennai with the 'Magnificat', on November 16, 2019. Fr Augustine Vallooran will lead the services. With special sessions for children.

Venue: Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road

MAGNIFICAT in Bangalore

Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore, at the 'Magnificat' on November 9, 2019. Services to be led by Fr Jacob Arimpur. All are welcome.

Venue: St. Joseph's Boys' School Chapel, Museum Road, Bangalore

Retreats in Divine Retreat Centre, UK

Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate UK, is holding several English and Malayalam language retreats - led by Fr. George Panackal VC and Fr. Joseph Edattu VC. All are welcome.

Dates: Jan - Dec, 2019

Inner Healing Retreat for Priests & Religious

Divine Retreat Centre is organising a retreat for priests and religious - to be held in November, 2019. Please spread the word. Prior registration is not required.

Date: Nov 24 - 29, 2019

Hindi Convention Ojas 2020

The Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our 10th annual Hindi convention, in 2020. Two retreats will be held simultaneously on the campus; one for adults and another for couples and youth. All are welcome.

Date: May 31 - June 5, 2020

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

Divine Retreat Schedules

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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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