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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

"

You bear much fruit"(Jn 15:8) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

"

You bear much fruit"(Jn 15:8) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Our God is a god of second chances. When we fail to rise up to God’s expectations of us, He offers us another chance that we may fulfil our mission. He never gives up on us. Lent is a sacred season when we consider, appreciate and respond to the revelation of God’s mercy towards us in our failures. This season with its spiritual practices is a channel opened by God for us to make an honest soul-searching that we may realise how we have rejected the mercy of God by wasting our lives. This can very well be considered a warning as well. This could indeed be the final chance offered.

Jesus presents the parable of the barren fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). The fig tree was planted in an orchard. It occupied a favoured position both in the orchard and in the heart of the owner. Three years had passed. Every year the owner came expecting fruit. Each time he found none. Since for three years no fruit had been borne, the owner was sure it would remain barren. Its presence was in no way beneficial. He therefore instructed the gardener to cut down the tree that there may be space for some other good plant. The gardener pleaded that they wait a year and give one last chance for it to bear fruit. The owner agreed to the gardener’s bargain that if in a year it still failed to bear fruit, it would be cut down.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.” (Ps 127:1)

During a retreat, I was talking to a teacher. He said he took his profession very seriously. He prepared well for his classes and took great care that his students profited from his lessons. He worked hard to ensure that all the students passed in the exam. However sincere he was with his profession, he said, at the end of the day he felt exhausted. Not only was he tired physically but also mentally. He often felt he was doing a thankless job and thus wasting his life. The appreciation and affection from both the management and the students was so temporary. There was conflict among the staff. He often wondered was this all life was about.

At a parish mission I was introduced to a highly specialised physician. The parish priest had great regard for this person. He was regular at church. He practised his faith devoutly. He also gave his utmost care in his medical profession. When any patient came to him he was committed to get them the best care. He never hesitated to consult his colleagues. His unselfishness was well known. The doctor taking me aside poured out the burden of his heart. Though he was very sincere with his work and in the practise of his faith, he said he often felt very empty and meaningless in his life. He wondered whether he was wasting his life.

Both these life situations are quite similar and perhaps reflect the struggle of many good and sincere people. It also accounts for the empty pursuits and onslaught of addictions.

I told the teacher that he was living a very honourable life as a human being, sincere to his profession. But he was not meant to be a mere honourable human person but a disciple committed to Jesus Christ. To be a Christian is more than being human. Though he was blessed to be born into a Catholic family and to be brought up by devout parents, he did not prioritise God in his personal life. Joy remains elusive for those whose faith is superficial.

The doctor, though sincere in his intentions of pursuing faith, had confused mere religious observances for a commitment to the Lord. This explains why inspite of his fastidious professional and religious observances, he was not able to experience the satisfaction of the heart.  Jesus insists that fullness of life is what we are to experience. The Lord also reveals that this experience of fullness is what He himself brings into our lives. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). Unless our entire life is a pathway for the entry of the Lord, we fail to receive what He comes to offer.

“Your joy may be complete.” (Jn 15:11)

Very many have given up on the prospect of true joy and are settling for the passing pleasures that can never quench the thirst of the human spirit. St John reveals to us the mystery of true joy in life. "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life... what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete" (1 Jn 1:1-4). The joy of St John was his Christ experience. In encountering Christ he realised his own true worth as he felt truly loved by the Lord. But that joy became complete when he shared his Christ experience with others, so that everyone may come to the fellowship with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is a message for everyone who seeks the complete and true joy of life. We could be honourable persons who idealise sincerity both in life and in work. This however does not bring in the fullness of joy. Mere observance of religious practices do not guarantee joy. The fullness of joy, as St John reveals to us, happens when we consider our entire life as a mission to share our experience of the mercy of Jesus. The last command of Jesus to His disciples was to become witnesses to Him to the ends of the earth. "You will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

The apostles Peter and John, after having been anointed with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, courageously proclaimed Jesus as the only Lord and Saviour. They were called in to the Sanhedrin, the highest body of authority of the Jews with the High Priest as its head. Here they were reprimanded severely for proclaiming the gospel and were warned with the threat of death not to repeat this. They however continued asserting right there in the assembly of the Sanhedrin that Jesus is the only Saviour of humankind and everyone seeking salvation should believe in the Lord Jesus. For this bold proclamation they were punished by being flogged. Though humiliated and wounded, the Acts records that they came out of prison "rejoicing that they could suffer for the sake of the Name" (Acts 5:41). When we obey the command of the Lord and bear witness to Him, even sufferings will not take away the joy of their heart.

“In thy presence there is fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11)

St John recalls his first encounter with Jesus in vivid detail. Andrew and he were standing with John the Baptist when Jesus was passing by. The Baptist pointing out to Jesus exclaimed, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" (Jn 1:29). The two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned and enquired of them, "What do you seek?" They replied, "Rabbi, where are you staying?" Jesus responded by inviting them, "Come, and you will see" (Jn 1:39). John solemnly affirms that they went and saw where He was staying and they stayed with Him that day. This was the first Christ experience for the disciples. It was so overwhelming that John remembers the exact time of it. He writes "It was about four in the afternoon" (Jn 1:39). For Andrew it was such an intense experience of Jesus being the long-awaited Messiah that he rushed to share this revelation with his brother Peter, "We have found the Messiah" (v. 41).

After this experience the two apostles were committed to bear witness to what they had experienced. John's gospel mentions Andrew thrice and in all the three occasions he is shown bringing someone to Jesus. He brought his brother Simon Peter (Jn 1:42); he brings the boy with five loaves and two fish (Jn 6:9); he introduces the Greeks to Jesus (Jn 12:20-23). The one mission of an apostle is to bear witness to Jesus and bring others to the experience of the Lord.

The joy of Christian living consists in sharing our God experience with others. I explained to the teacher and the doctor that they were not living their lives to the full. What makes the joy complete is witnessing to Jesus. They have neglected this sole life-mission which explains the lingering sense of emptiness. The fallacy of modern thinking is that worldly pleasures and financial security make for life. People are so lost in pursuit of these earthly ambitions that they forget the real meaning of life. This accounts for the great unhappiness and despair in the hearts of the people. After having achieved much, they still feel defeated. We need to be awakened to the mission the Lord has given us.

“Though my flesh and my heart fail, God is the rock of my heart” (Ps 73:26)

The last moments of the life of St Francis Xavier are recorded for us. After the long and hazardous missionary journey that took him to the shores of Japan from Spain he fell ill and he knew he was dying. He was praising God who gave him the privilege to spend his life proclaiming Jesus. He was so filled with the joy of the Lord that he began to exclaim "Enough Lord, enough! I cannot take more." He explained to his companion that his body, heart and mind are filled with heavenly joy and comfort to such great extent that he could not take more. He breathed his last rejoicing in the Lord in spite of severe bodily discomfort. This was a man who in the normal course of life should have become a brilliant professor in the illustrious university of Paris. But at the end of that brilliant career, he would have ended his life with that pain of having wasted his life in the pursuit of the transitory honours.

A lot of people chase illusions. They set for themselves goals and work hard towards these, imagining that these goals would delight their heart and give value to their lives. But a goal attained will open up new vistas of growth. They apply themselves wholeheartedly to the attainment of these pursuits. The more success they attain the less satisfied they are, because higher levels fascinate them always. After a time of racing for worldly goals they get tired and realise they're unable to get out of it. Every goal once idolised prove to be below the horizons of excellence in the world.

We are sent into the world for a mission by the Lord. The joy of our living is to fulfil this mission. The Lord promises to be close to us at every moment of our lives. We need to commit our life to Him and wait for Him to send us to accomplish what He wants of us. Whether in the family or in our profession our lives are to be determined by this our mission. A husband has got a mission for the wife to love her even when she lets him down and thus reveal the face of God which is His saving love. Similarly the wife should be aware that her mission is to enrich the life of her husband with her love. A doctor practises his medical work as a mission he is sent for in order to heal the sick as a continuation of the healing ministry of Jesus. Thus being close to the Lord as a disciple we need to be waiting in prayer to be sent by him. Every good that one does becomes truly divine when done as the fulfilment of ones mission.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you commanded us to be the light of the world. We accept this mission to dispel the darkness around us. We realise that we have failed in this Divine task and thus allowed darkness to permeate our lives. We repent over our sin of failing to bear fruit for you. Give us the grace to offer our lives into your hands that we may be instruments of your salvation. Amen.

 
Divine Updates

MAGNIFICAT in Bangalore

Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore at the 'Magnificat' on March 23, 2019. Services to be led by Fr John Prince VC. Special session for children. All are welcome.

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

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

Kannada Convention 2019

Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our annual Kannada convention in May, 2019. The convention will be blessed by the vibrant preaching of many anointed servants of God. Please come.

Date: May 5 - May 10, 2019

Konkani Convention - Kuttumb-Utsov-2019

Divine Retreat Centre's annual Konkani Convention will be held at the centre. The convention will be led by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, Director. Talks to focus mainly on the renewal of the family. All are welcome.

Date: April 28 - May 3, 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

Divine Retreats in Canada

Divine healing Masses and retreats to be held across various venues in Canada. Masses to be offered by Fr Augustine Vallooran VC. Praise and worship by Glen and Teresa La'Rive. Please bring your loved ones.

Date: 15 - 27 March, 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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