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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

Go And Do Likewise (Lk.10: 37) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another " (Jn. 13: 34-35).

What is the characteristic mark of a disciple of Jesus? By what does Jesus want us to be known as his disciples? In other words, when can I say I am truly a follower of Jesus, a Christian in the true meaning of the word? Jesus said, "By this every one will know that you are my disciples; if you love one another as I have loved you" (Lk.13: 35).

Loving every one, caring for every one, sharing everything with each other — in short, caring and sharing; that is what makes one a true disciple of Jesus. No one is a stranger or a foreigner any more but everyone is recognized as a brother or sister. I then need to care for such people, as my own and a very part of me. And I should be able to share myself with him, or her, in such a way that everything I have is also his or hers.

"By this all men will know…" (Jn.13: 35)

The early Christian community lived with this understanding as recorded in the book of Acts 4: 32-35, “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

The early Christians were of one heart and one soul, who knew they belonged to each other because they belonged to Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches" (Jn.15: 5). Jesus is the main stem of the vine and everyone else is a branch; so we belong to each other through the vine. All that I have belongs to others as well because we are related in love. The early Christians knew this; therefore they shared everything with each other. No one said that any of the things, which he or she possessed, was his or her own, but they shared everything in common with no one in need any more.

"Where is your brother?"(Gen.4: 9)

Unfortunately, down the centuries we have lost this great ideal of Christian love. The rich became richer and the poor became poorer, even among the believers in Jesus. A few years ago in New York, there was a large gathering in the stadium where the Holy Father offered Holy Mass. During the Holy Mass, the Pope, John Paul II in his homily said in a very emphatic tone, “It is unfortunate that 80% of the resources of the world are enjoyed by 20% of the world population. And 80% of the world population has only 20% of resources to survive on. This is unfortunate, this is unjust.” Every one clapped, including the President of the United States who was sitting on the podium. This is an unfortunate truth that you and I, cannot approve of, if we are the disciples of Jesus. We cannot approve of this unjust world order.

"Am I my brother’s keeper?" (Gen.4: 9)

Now, let us not blame others; but look to our own lives. What about me? my property and my money? Am I ready to share? Am I ready to care? Am I ready to give? If not, I will be condemned for my indifference. Jesus said it in so many words in a beautiful parable that He related, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames " (Lk. 16: 19-23).

On earth the rich man enjoyed life while the poor man Lazarus, lay at the gate of the rich man. All that the poor man had were dogs around him to lick his sores. Only dogs cared for him, and no one else. The rich man on the other hand had everything, and sumptuously, ate and feasted every day. The poor man had to wait for the crumbs of bread that fell from the table of the rich man to be able to eat.

The rich man died and Jesus said he was taken to hell, to the eternal punishment. The poor man also died, but the angels took him to the bosom of Abraham to Heaven. What was the mistake of the rich man? The Bible does not tell us that he did any injustice. The Word of God does not tell us that he was cruel either. He enjoyed himself with the money that he inherited from his forefathers or amassed by his own efforts, ignoring the poor man lying at his gate. That was the mortal sin of the rich man for which he was punished in hell-fire.

"You have dishonoured the poor man"(Ja.2: 6)

I for one would imagine that the rich man was not such a bad person after all. He was not bad because he did not chase away the poor man from his gate. Today what happens to us: if I have money, I will build a huge mansion and raise up big walls around to keep every body away. Then I will erect large gates and put up a board: beware; there is a dog inside, to keep everyone away from my gate, from my palace, from my money. I want to enjoy my money by myself.

This indeed is a mortal sin. And that is exactly what Jesus said. I am responsible for every poor man, every sad person, for every sick and disabled person. I need to care and I need to share. St. Ambrose, an early Father of the Church taught the Christians of his time saying, "If you have grain in your box more than what you need for your supper, and you know that your neighbour is starving, that grain does not belong to you any more. You are bound to go and give it to your neighbour who starves. That grain belongs to him and if you don’t do that you are a thief. You are stealing that grain from your brother who is starving." This is the teaching of the Church.

In the beginning of the world, Cain, the first brother, angrily shouted at God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”(Gen.4: 9). Today ideologies, philosophies, political structures, and social systems are shouting at God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” But God did not answer. In fact, God took centuries to give an answer to that question. For this purpose God sent Jesus, His own Son into the world who said, "Yes, you are your brother’s keeper. You cannot escape from your brother who is suffering and sad, who is wounded, and bleeding."

We are told so in Luke chapter 10, in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan who was an outcast for a Jew saw a Jew, lying plundered, wounded, bleeding and dying. Two people had already gone past the wounded Jew, a priest and a Levite. Both of them did not care, but the Samaritan man cared. He got down from the animal he was riding to care. He took the bleeding man to an inn, gave the innkeeper everything he had and also everything that he did not have: he told the innkeeper that anything incurred extra would be paid on his return. The Samaritan showed that the Jew was his brother who needed his care and share of all he possessed.

He did it all for a stranger, a caste enemy. But then, every stranger is my brother. A disciple of Jesus has no enemies. If I consider anyone as a stranger or an enemy, I am not worthy of Jesus.

And after having said this, Jesus said, "Go and do likewise"(Lk.10: 37). For a disciple of Jesus, caring and sharing is not an option, it is an obligation. I am obligated to care for everyone in need and to share all that is mine with them. “By this the world will know that you are my disciples; if you have love for one another”(Lk.13: 35).

Let us pray:
Thank you Lord for opening our eyes. There are so many around me who are sick, who are sad, and disabled. There are so many around me who are not cared for, who are humiliated, isolated, and despised, the least of your brethren. Jesus you want us to care for them as we would have cared for you. Give us the grace to look at them and recognize your face in them and to care for them, sharing ourselves with them.
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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.

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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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