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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

"I Desire Mercy" (Matthew 9:13) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

I recollect a story written by the French Novelist, Albert Camus which left a deep impression on my mind. The story was titled; "The Fall" and revolves around the main character, a Judge by the name John Baptist. One day as the Judge is taking a stroll on the bank of a canal, he sees from afar a pretty little girl dancing and skipping along the same bank of the canal. The Judge is enjoying the scene when suddenly to his horror the girl slips and falls into the deep waters of the canal. The Judge is too benumbed to react. Even though he wants to save the girl he cannot get himself to move to reach her and within a matter of seconds the girl drowns in the water. He is borne down by the enormity of what has happened and starts feeling very guilty. He is constantly tortured by thoughts that he could have saved the girl's life but he did not do anything. The guilt eats into him and he becomes a mental wreck, wandering on the bank of the same canal, crying out to God, "I am a wretched man, O God, I am a sinful man, I could not save, and I have no right to live." Being a Judge he was always passing sentences on those who had committed crimes. Now holding his self guilty for not having saved the life of the girl he wants to know who would judge him, who would condemn him, who would pardon him of this crime and release him from the weight of the guilt that burdened him so.

This is the same anguished cry of the man in the modern world today where evil of all types abound making him very vulnerable to sin and the guilt which results from the sin. Guilty, when we are not able to love our family and dear ones the way they need to be loved. Guilty, when we are not sincere in carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to us. Guilty, when we yield to temptations and fall into sin. "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me." (Romans 7:19-20) Helplessness in the face of instances that lead to sin can cause turmoil in the heart and mind of individuals until they seek solace in God who is merciful. In His presence we realise how sinful we are, how unacceptable we are and therefore how unworthy to be His children. It is then the plea for mercy from God arises in heart of each one of us, making us cry out with the Psalmist, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, ………Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice." (Psalm 51:1-8)

How can we set ourselves free from the chains of guilt brought on by our fall from the standards set by God for His children? The revelation of the Divine Mercy has come to us with this message of hope for all who are in despair over their sinfulness - speaking release through the forgiving, renewing and sanctifying Mercy of God. Mercy - a Divine virtue, personified in Jesus who even when He was dying on the Cross was able to pray for those who had crucified Him, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) The picture of Divine Mercy is the vision of Jesus as revealed to Sr. Faustina of Poland and depicts the ever flowing mercy of God pouring out of the heart of Jesus as a steady stream of coloured rays, signifying the mercy of God flowing into our hearts, forgiving us, saving us and giving us new life. And since then the picture of Divine Mercy connote God as 'The Merciful'. Mercy - an intrinsic characteristic of God's nature is revealed by Jesus throughout the Gospels, through some very touching incidents. In each of these incidents, our God is portrayed as a merciful Father, loving us, caring for us even when we are sinners and waiting to save us. A Father inviting us to draw close to Him every time we fall from grace so that He might cleanse us and make us new beings in Him.

"He Had Compassion On Them" (Matthew 9:36)

One very remarkable incident is that of the Samaritan woman as told in the Gospel of St John, Chapter Four. The woman who met Jesus by the well was leading a sinful life with total disregard to the norms of the society in which she lived. Yet Jesus spoke to her respectfully and very gently revealed her sinfulness to her. Sin is a truth that cannot be denied but it needs to be exposed to the person concerned with sensitivity and understanding. Along with the nature of her sin Jesus also revealed to her that He was the Saviour the whole of humanity was awaiting. It is only to her that Jesus directly revealed who He was and with that He not only saved her soul from being lost forever but also transformed the woman from a sinner to a missionary ready to proclaim the news of salvation to all the people in the town. The changed demeanour and the powerful testimony of the Samaritan woman encouraged the town people to believe that Jesus was indeed the Saviour. This is what happens each time we go to our God with our sinfulness. God gently reveals the area of our sin forgives us and makes us a new creation in Him.

Another similar incident is mentioned in the Gospel of John, Chapter Eight, where a sinful woman is saved by Jesus from being stoned to death. The people ready to stone her were the Pharisees, the Scribes and the virtuous men of the society. Jesus out of compassion for the woman uses His divine wisdom to rescue her and tells her to go her way and not to sin anymore, thus setting her free not only from her pursuers but also from her own sinful tendencies.

"In Me You Will Have Peace" (John 16:33)

In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter Fifteen, Jesus speaks of the parable of the Prodigal son. Here Jesus was making the Jews aware of their own shortcomings. The Jews were rigorous in the observance of all laws and regulations believing that only through their manner of living they could please God. So Jesus reiterates that we are already the beloved children of our loving Father. Our very status as a child of God makes us very precious to our God. Our Father does not need our sacrifices but wants that we show mercy to others. "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." (Matthew 9:13) We are merciful when we do not condemn or judge others but accept everyone as they are, caring for them and taking pains to understand them and being sensitive to their needs. In the parable of the Prodigal son, the elder brother in the family represents the rigorous legalism of the Jewish religion where he tries to appease the father with adherence to observances. But what the father required of the elder brother was that he be merciful to the younger one.

The younger son repented and returned to the home of the father after having squandered his share of the property. The son had returned broken, dejected and miserable from the wretchedness of living in sin. He did not consider himself worthy to be called a son of that father again. He had not expected to be welcomed but the Father gave him a warm embrace, a loving kiss and reinstated him to the position of a beloved son. And all that had been lost was restored to him. The younger son won the heart of his father with his humility and true repentance. The Prodigality of the love and mercy of the father defeated the prodigality of the sinfulness of the son. This is the way God defeats the sinfulness in us, with His mercy

It is also an indication how we should be defeating the sin around us no matter what be the circumstances in which we find ourselves. When faced with the situation of a husband who drinks, a wife who nags, children who are badly behaved; an employee who shirks responsibilities at work, a person who misuses facilities, a person who is dishonest how do we react? It can never be by opposition, by retaliation or reacting negatively. Instead we need to be sensitive and understanding and overcome all the evil around us with love and mercy thus healing the bitterness around us. This is the message of Divine Mercy - the healing power of God's mercy flowing into our lives, a message for the troubled times in which we live today.

Let us pray:

O God I am sinful and so unworthy yet I know You love me. I know You care for me and that You want me to be always close to You. Let me never be ashamed to bring my burden of sins to You. Let me come to You with the confidence of faith and confess my sins, believing in Your Mercy.

Lord, bless me with the grace to make a new beginning again in the experience of the fullness and richness of Your Mercy.

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

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

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

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

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