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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:19) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Monthly Reflections

"Called To Be Saints" (Romans 1:7) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

The 1st of November is the Feast of All Saints. Whose Feast is this? If we understand whose feast we are celebrating on this day, we will also understand the nature of our life as the disciples of Jesus Christ.

This is the feast of every one of us called to be the disciples of Jesus. In fact, in the early Church, "saint" was the word used to denote the believers in Jesus Christ. In the Book of Acts, in the letters of St. Paul, and in the letters of St. Peter, we are told again and again that the Christians are called saints. In Philippians 4:21, for example, St. Paul says, "Greet every saint in my name." Every Christian had the consciousness that he was called to be a saint. In Romans 1:7, St. Paul tells us, "We are called to be saints." The conviction of a believer in Jesus is "I am called to be a saint." Hence the assertion of St. Peter, "We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart" (1 Peter 2: 9).

To Be A Saint That is the meaning of being a saint — a person set apart from the world to belong to Jesus. The moment I am baptized into Jesus Christ, I am a very special person. I am not like the other men and women of the world. Jesus said this very clearly in the Gospel of John 15:19, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. You are not of the world. I have chosen you out of the world."

How do we belong to Jesus? In the same chapter, we are told that we belong to Jesus as a branch belongs to the vine. And Jesus belongs to us as the main trunk of the vine belongs to the branches. Jesus said, "Abide in me and I will abide in you." (John 15:4) This expression is repeated over and over again, "You remain in me, I will remain in you. You keep close to me, I will keep close to you." To remain in Jesus — I in Jesus, Jesus in me — so intimate is the relationship that Jesus expects of me with Him. St. Paul has a very special word for this: en Christo, in Christ. We are in Christ and Christ is in us - in such closeness that everything from me flows into Him. All my sorrows and anxieties, all my worries and troubles, all my sins and temptations, everything of mine flows into Him. And from Jesus all the peace, joy and love flow into me. From me into Jesus and from Jesus into me! This flow of love is with the Holy Spirit. In Jesus through the Holy Spirit, I flow to the Father. This is the essence of Christian life — I in Jesus, and Jesus in me in the Holy Spirit and Jesus constantly taking me to the Heavenly Father.

That is the relationship I enjoy with the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. When we have this experience, we are taken out of this world. The world, which St. John speaks of, is the world under the power of sin. St. John is not condemning the whole world as evil. But there is something in the world that is evil. There is a spirit which rebels against God. That rebellion is what evil is. Every sin is a rebellion, a rejection of God.

Therefore, when we are united with Jesus and Jesus is united with us. We live a life in the world but not of the world; not rebelling against, but constantly accepting God’s will. As Mother Mary said, "Here am I, your handmaid; let it be done unto me according to your Word." This is saintly life. This is authentic Christianity. This saintliness will now mould my relationship to God and to my brothers and sisters.

"Our Father in heaven …"(Matt. 6:9) I accept the revelation of Jesus that God is my dear Father. I know deep in my heart that my God is my Father. I am a beloved child of my God. My God loves me so much that "even a hair falling to the ground is all counted by Him" (Matthew 10:30). Even such a little detail is taken care of by my God. My God is a great Love, a love that is waiting to turn everything for my good: "For those who love God, He turns everything to their good." (Romans 8:28)

God loved me so much that He sent His only Son to die for me (John 3:16) so that I may live, that I may not perish in the misery of my sinfulness. I know it and this is my constant experience: my God gives me Jesus. The moment I am tempted, sad or sick, I know I am not alone. My Lord has told me this, "I will not leave you alone." (John 14:18) He will always hold me close to Himself. This is my religion, the religion of a child united in the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ being taken up to my Heavenly Father at every moment of my life.

"Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12)

My religion keeps me close not only to God. That closeness to my God enables me to reach out to my brothers and my sisters at all times. Hence, forgiveness becomes the characteristic mark of my relationship. The one word by which Jesus sums up my relationship to my brothers and my sisters is forgiveness. Whoever loves is bound to be hurt. But often, human love ends at the point of being hurt. The moment one is belittled, insulted or hurt, the other is looked at as an enemy. That is why Jesus said that we shall have no enemies. Reach out to the enemies. If he is hungry, feed him. Go and wash the feet and save your enemy. Hence, I understand that I should be ready to become nothing for the sake of my brother. I need to forgive every one. At every moment, forgiveness characterizes my relationship with my brothers and my sisters. When I love every one to the point of washing their feet, then I know my God is there for me.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious" (Matthew 6:25)

God is the foundation of my life. It is in Him that I trust. He is my Master. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24) Mammon is greed — an attempt to build my life in this world and to be satisfied with it. When I want to find all my security in the things of this world, I go on amassing wealth. Nothing is enough for me. I go on like a mad dog, I need more because nothing really satisfies me.

When I trust in God, He becomes my security. He is my joy, and my love. He supplies every need of my heart, of my body. And therefore, I seek the Kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 6:33) I seek to be one with my God in the Holy Spirit all the time. I am not greedy. I am not running after money and I am not anxious either. Greed and anxiety — the two things that Jesus warned us against. One comes from the other. When I think that it is this world which satisfies me, I will try to bring as much of the world into my pocket as possible, never being satisfied. And since I am not satisfied, I am anxious. I have not enough. Riches do not satisfy anyone.

Has anybody ever said, "It is enough for me?" But a man or woman of God would say, "My God is enough for me." Therefore, a saint is not anxious. Jesus said, "Learn from the birds of the air." The birds: Oh! so free and spontaneous, so bold and self-confident, surging always ahead…and the lilies of the field! Jesus said, "Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matt. 6: 29). So also a saint, a man or woman of Jesus, is never anxious because he or she knows God is there for them.

This does not mean that we are lazy. My Jesus does not make me lazy. On the other hand, I am conscious of my mission in this world, since I pray: "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven." So I have a responsibility to be always active, to be always on the move for the Kingdom of God to come on the face of this earth. Rather, I work hard for the Kingdom of God and then, I leave everything to my God. I work with Him and I work for Him. I feel the joy of belonging to the Kingdom. That is why St. Paul said, "The Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking." (Romans 14:17) Mere eating and drinking will not give me the pleasure that I am looking for. The abiding peace, the permanent security that I long for, will come to me from the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is "the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit."

This is being a saint — a man, a woman of joy, of peace and righteousness. The early Christians were convinced that they were called to be saints (Romans 1:7), to be always one with Jesus Christ, to be always one with all their brothers and sisters.

"To all God’s beloved … called to be saints" (Romans 1:7)

The Feast of All Saints enables us to become more and more worthy of Jesus Christ by committing our lives totally to Him and in Jesus to the Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit - and by reaching out to our brothers and sisters, especially the needy and the poor always with love in our hearts. Thus we shall enjoy the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray:
Lord, I want to be different by the Christian difference. I do not want to live as the men and women of the world live.

I want to belong to You, O Jesus, at every moment. I want to be different, to be consecrated to You. When others hurt me, I will not retaliate. When others insult me, I will not insult back. It is not an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

O Jesus, it is You who shall be before me, before my eyes all the time. I pray that You anoint me afresh now with Your Holy Spirit - that I may be able to experience the Righteousness, Peace and Joy of the Holy Spirit.
Amen
 
Divine Updates

MAGNIFICAT in Bangalore

Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore at the 'Magnificat' on December 16, 2017. Services to be led by Fr Augustine Vallooran VC. All are welcome.

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

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

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

Date: January 2018 - December, 2018

Emmanuel Conference at DRC

Welcome to the season of blessings - mark this Advent with special retreats for discipleship, couples and children at the Divine Retreat Centre. A time to strengthen yourself in the Lord, before the end of the year. Led by Fr Augustine Vallooran and the Divine team.

Date: December 24 - 29, 2017

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, 2018

Hindi Convention Ojas 2018

The Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our eighth Hindi convention, in 2018. Two retreats will be held simultaneously on the campus; one for adults and another for couples and youth. All are welcome.

Date: May 27 - June 1, 2018

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 Fr. Mathew Elavumkal, Fr. Mathew Naickomparambil and Fr. Binoy Chackanikunnel.

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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