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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

Monthly Reflections

The Triumph of The Cross - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

Wherever you are, my brothers and sisters, let us pause for a moment and remember that God is there with you. God sees you and wants to talk to you at this moment. Open your heart to God's Love and Light flowing into your heart. God is coming to console you and comfort you at this moment. Holy Spirit, our Comforter, you are the gift given by the Father to us - to console and comfort us. Spirit of God, let your heavenly comfort flow into us and fill us. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. In the Gospel of John 3:3-16, Jesus said, "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven - the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

The context of this conversation, is the encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus. Nicodemus, a teacher of the Law, had come to meet Jesus and Jesus was speaking of himself and his mission. Jesus said that he was the Son of God, who had come down from heaven so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Here, Jesus quotes from the Old Testament from the book of Numbers 21:9. referring to the great event that happened in the desert as the people of God were journeying to the Promised Land. The people of God were bitten by snakes and they were dying. They were also blocked. Moses prayed and God told him to raise up a bronze serpent - so that who everyone who looked at it would be healed. Moses raised up a bronze serpent. The people looked at the sign of salvation and they were healed of their problems.

Jesus referred to this event to show that that just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent, the sign of salvation in the midst of the disaster that struck the people of God, God the Father, has raised him up, as the One to which the whole of mankind would look to and be saved. Jesus was referring to his own crucifixion and death.

This month, we are celebrating the Feast of the Triumph of The Cross on 14 September. The Triumph of the Cross? The words sound anomalous. They seem contradictory, Surely, the cross means failure, the cross means frustration, the cross means the loss of everything beautiful in life. And yet the feast we are gong to celebrate is The Triumph of The Cross!

That is exactly what has happened for you and for me -what Jesus achieved for us. Our crosses will triumph exactly as the cross of Jesus triumphed. In our sufferings, we will triumph. That is what Jesus did for us. With the cross of Jesus, the history of mankind was cut into 2 - B.C. and A.D. Everything before Jesus and everything after Jesus- Before Christ and After Christ. This division is not a mere change in the calendar. It brings to us the qualitative change that came to our sufferings, to our salvation. Before Christ, the cross was a sign of condemnation, a sign of frustration, a sign of failure. But when Jesus took it all upon himself, the cross meant triumph, the cross meant glorification, the cross meant the beauty of living! Well, that is what you and I share. And that is why we call this feast - The Triumph of The Cross.

Jesus said, "No greater love has man than this; than one who gives up his life for the sake of his friends." He accepted mankind unto himself as children - as children of God. He suffered for every one of us. He triumphed over hatred, arrogance, cruelty and anger - the triumph of the cross.

Let us reflect on the remarkable prayer that Jesus said on the cross, " Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:24) He was asking his Father to forgive everyone who broke him, everyone who destroyed him on the cross. No anger, no self-pity - only love. Love triumphing over hatred. That is the beauty of the cross.

Who triumphed on Calvary? Pilate who condemned Jesus? No. The centurion who looked after the crucifixion? No. It was the victim who triumphed. Jesus won victory over satan and sin! For our Lord accepted everything from the hands of his Father.

Was the prayer " Father, forgive them; they know not what the do" a sincere one? For Pilate knew what he was doing. He knew that the Jewish chief priests would not be able to crucify Jesus if he did not give the condemnation. The Jewish priests knew that. Out of jealousy, they wanted to get rid of Jesus. Everyone knew what they were doing and yet Jesus said that prayer. What is it that they did not know? They did not know that Jesus accepted everything from the hands of his Heavenly Father. While praying in Gethsemane, Jesus saw everything - the enormity of suffering on the cross. He saw it all and he could not bear it. Jesus became so tense. His blood vessels were broken and blood began to flow. He began to sweat blood and there he prayed " Father, this is too much. I cannot bear it all. Let this bitter chalice go away from me." And then he added, "But Father, not my will, let Your Will be done." An angel came, And Jesus got the clear vision of the Will of the Father, that it was part of the great plan of salvation that the Father had in mind. Jesus knew that he had to suffer it all. And Jesus said, " Father, I accept it all from your hands. Not my will, let Your Will be done." From that instant, Jesus accepted everything that occurred to him from the hands of his Heavenly Father.

The soldiers came to the gates of Gethsemane Garden. Judas delivered the kiss of betrayal and yet Jesus called him, "My friend, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" No arguments, no justification, no protests, no anger, no complaints. The soldiers took him away. Jesus accepted it all - not from Judas but as the will of the Father for the salvation of mankind. He accepted every beating, every cruelty, every suffering from the hands of God. Thus every drop of suffering became an act of love. With that love, he triumphed over hatred and the cruelty of crucifixion. From then on, the cross became the sign of salvation. For everyone who identifies with Jesus, suffering is no more a curse.

Suffering is God's plan for our salvation. We have the great assurance that St. Paul gives us, "If we suffer, we trust we will be glorified with Him." The bitterness of suffering is gone. The failure of the cross became the triumph of love - a Triumph of the Cross.

As we celebrate this feast, let us look into our lives. We suffer often. Things go wrong with us. Others insult us, they humiliate us and they spread rumours about us. We become sad and broken. At such moments, we shall remember that every bit of suffering is a sharing - a sharing of the suffering of Christ.

I am accepting it all from the hands of the Father. If someone insults me, and I am angry with him, the cross did not triumph. I have become a victim of sin, of anger. I am not sharing of the insults that Jesus took at the cross. I should look at the friend who insulted me and I should love him. When I am sick, I should not be desperate. I will look at the Cross and say "My Lord, I offer my cross to you." That is the moment my cross triumphs, my sufferings triumph.

When we understand this, we begin to really understand the Beatitudes that Jesus spoke of in Luke 6:20 onwards - "Blessed are the poor; for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now; for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now; for you shall be loved. Blessed are you when men hate you and when they exclude and revile you and cast out your name as evil on the account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day!"

Jesus said that in moments of poverty, human sadness and persecution, I should rejoice. For in that moment, I will share in the triumph of the Cross. This is Christianity - the beauty of being a disciple of Jesus. To be able to rejoice even when everything is going wrong for me because I know God is there for me and God is turning everything for my good.

Let us pause for a moment.
Look at your cross and think of everyone who hurt you.
Think of every moment when you were sad.
Think of every occasion when things went wrong with you.
Think of all such circumstances in your lives.
In such moments, you thought you were unfortunate. But it is in such moments that you and I were fortunate.
We were fortunate because we were sharing in the triumph of the cross.
In the future, at every moment of cross, let Jesus triumph!
Let the crucified Lord triumph in our lives.
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

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Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - Hurry, as admission is limited.

Date: January 2018 - December, 2018

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

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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

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