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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

I have come to set the earth on fire" (Lk 12:49) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Monthly Reflections

"Thy Word... A Light To My Path"(Psalm 119:105) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

It is a very uncertain world that we are living in. Everything is constantly changing: structures, customs, philosophies, ideologies, opinions, beliefs, relationships. Everyone is searching for security, for some plank to hold on to, for some figure to trust in.

But Jesus offers us His disciples a sure foundation for our life in the Word of God. Even if storms should rage around us if we have made His word the foundation of our life, no harm can touch us. "Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock." (Matthew 7:24-25) This is the grand promise of Jesus that His Word shall be the certainty of our life.

"To Whom Shall We Go Lord? You Have The Words Of Eternal Life" (John 6:68)

Jesus tells us, "If you make my Word your dwelling place you shall truly be my disciples." (John 8:31) Jesus offers us His Word as the training ground where we can be formed as His disciples and can live our discipleship to the full. Another rendering of the above verse presents this as "When my Word becomes your home…" What does it mean to make the Lord’s Word my home? My home is where I belong to. This is the place that I come from and get back to. This is where I find the joy of my living; where I am comforted; where I experience love and security. The crucial question we need to examine is whether I belong to God’s Word. This happens when I am so sure of God’s Word that I am able to live by it everyday of my life. Living by the Word is the test of the authenticity of my discipleship.

There are many lights flashing around us; many false lights trying to divert us from our path. Can we still hold firm and pray as the psalmist does, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Ps. 119:105) The psalmist continues to affirm here, "I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe thy righteous ordinances." (Psalm 119: 106) To swear by an oath and to confirm it speaks of something I am convinced of and committed to. When I meditate on God’s Word and make it the rule of my life, every decision that I make will be in the light of God’s Word. Everything that I do will be in the power of His Word.

"I Have Laid Up Thy Word In My Heart That I Might Not Sin Against Thee." (Psalm 119:11)

God’s Word is the truth of life. Jesus while praying to the Father declared, "thy word is truth." (John 17:17) And to the people He explained, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mark 12:24) It is wisdom to understand that every sin of my heart was due to this – I had not kept God’s Word. The downfall of humankind came from this disaster. Right in the garden of Paradise the devil came with a lie to our first parents. He approached them and proclaimed that God was not to be trusted. God did not want their good for He was insecure that the humans would become like Him, satan explained. And distorting the purpose of God, satan declared that was why God had commanded them not to eat the fruit of that tree. The devil pressed on them to reach for the forbidden fruit as they would become like God and would experience great delight. Eve found satan’s proposition acceptable. She took the word of satan as truth and abandoned the word of God. This false conviction of Eve brought disaster onto humankind. We cannot blame Adam and Eve. We have not fared better. All the time the world is telling us blatant lies that contradict God’s Word. The world declares that if I must achieve some thing in life, if I must become successful, rich and famous, I must pursue the path of evil. I cannot afford to follow the Word of God. This lie has spread rampantly, playing havoc in the lives of the people and in families.

It is in this sad background of the world that you and I need to make a commitment. A personal commitment to God where His Word will be the lamp to our feet and the joy of our heart. We need to swear by an oath to keep His Word at every moment and situation because His Word is the truth. Jesus assures us "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35)The Word of God remains forever to give us courage and conviction, security and salvation. When we meditate on the Word and make it a part of our experience, the Word of God enters our life and will sustain us through every change that happens around us.

"In My Mouth As Sweet As Honey" (Ezekial 3:3) The prophets heard the voice of God. And they offer to us a beautiful imagery as they declare to us that the Word of God is sweeter than honey (Jer. 15; Ez 3). Honey is what we relish. We take it into our mouth and we enjoy its taste for awhile. That is how the Word of God is to be taken into our hearts. We don’t quickly swallow it, but slowly and prayerfully relish it so that it may flow into us and be assimilated as a part of us. Then all the grief and all the bitterness vanishes from our life.

Jesus confirms that it is to bring this sweetness into our life that He gives us His words: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full" (Jn. 15:11). What is offered is the fullness of joy. Joy flows into us along with God’s Word. Life is tough. Very often wrong things happen to us. We get sad and desperate. In such moments what is needed is to turn to God’s Word. As we open out the Bible and hold the Word like honey, the word enters in and become part of our life and our heart. All the sadness vanishes and joy fills our hearts.

"The Word Of God Is Living And Active" (Hebrews 4:12)

The disciples have always experienced this intervention of joy in the dark moments as they opened their lives to the Word. The evangelist Luke describes the experience of two disciples, Cleophas and his companion. (Luke 24) They were journeying back to their village Emmaus. This was after the death and burial of Jesus. They were very bitter, defeated, angry and frightened. The one hope of their life was gone. They had hoped that Jesus would establish the kingdom and they would have high positions in this new kingdom. But the Lord was now crucified and buried. And everything was indeed over. In fact, they were recounting this sad turn of events to Jesus Himself! The risen Lord was walking with them. But they did not recognize Him. Finally after having heard them out Jesus opened the Scriptures to them and explained how the entire sequence of events was in God’s gracious plan. Every suffering Jesus underwent, the humiliation and betrayal, even His shameful death and burial, were all part of the grand design of God for the salvation of humankind. As they were listening to the Word, joy filled their hearts and they would recall, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Lk. 24:32)

"My Word... Shall Not Return To Me Empty" (Isaiah 55:11)

I remember a highly placed professional who came here for retreat. He was an engineer, employed in a prestigious Government firm. He found his work very tough. His employees were not co-operating with him, the superiors were always finding fault with him and things were not going well even with his own performance. Every day he would come home tired, burdened, sad and angry. He shared these problems with his friends. They would listen to him for awhile. Slowly he understood that his friends had no time for him. They were busy with their own problems. Who has time for anyone in this busy world? He stopped approaching his friends. Meanwhile the problems were getting very acute. He took to the bottle in an attempt to relieve his stress. He became addicted to alcohol. This made him feel more defeated and more depressed. He knew he had embarked on the road to self destruction. He was shattered. It was at this point of his life that he came here for retreat.

He shared his problems with me. I opened to him the psalm which read, "O God, if thy word had not become the delight of my heart I would have perished in my affliction." (Psalm 119:92) I explained to him that the entire issue was simply that the Word of God has not become the joy of his heart. I prevailed on him to read God’s Word every day for half an hour. He was not to merely read but must relish God’s Word and feel God speaking through this Word to him personally. The live presence of God was waiting to be manifested to him.

This is the truth. When I read the Bible I am not just reading any book. Of course the Bible is a book. But it is much more than a book. It is the living Word flowing into my heart from the very heart of God. From the heart of God along with the Word the power and the joy of God rush in to flood me.

I met this engineer a few months later. His countenance had changed much. He joyfully shared how he found God’s Word so meaningful and relevant in his daily experiences, "God’s Word has turned my life into a joyous experience. Of course, the problems in the office have not changed much. But I am not distressed. I turn to God’s word. Every morning I wake up with anticipation to hear what God had to say to me that day. I meditate on His message for a while. I memorize a few verses. I repeat these verses during the moments when things are slipping out of control. Very soon I am able to recapture that sense of God’s presence in my work. I find my life and my work have become very beautiful, very joyous."

Life indeed is beautiful when we live it with Jesus. This is the offer the Lord makes to us today. There may be moments when we may become sad. But our sadness will be turned to joy when the Word of God becomes "the lamp to our feet and light to our path."

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, You are the Word that became flesh to save us from our sin and sadness. I thank You for offering Your own Self to me in the Word. As I read Your Word, Your voice speaks to my heart. Your light shines on me. Your joy flows into me renewing me. Your power raises me up. Your Word has become my joy and my strength. Give me the grace to build my life on Your Word, O Lord, that I may rejoice at all times!

O God, let your Word enter into my heart and become the rule of my life, the joy of my living and the peace of my day. Speak to me Lord, Thy servant is listening. With Mother Mary I surrender my life to You. Let it be done to me according to Thy Word.
Amen

 
Divine Updates

MAGNIFICAT in Chennai

Divine comes to Chennai with the 'Magnificat on October 21,2017. Fr. Jacob Arimpur VC will lead the services. Music by Worship Culture. With special sessions for children.

Venue: Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road

MAGNIFICAT in Bangalore

Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore at the 'Magnificat' on October 14, 2017. Services to be led by Fr Jacob Arimpur 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 2017 - December, 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, 2017

Divine Mercy Mega Convention

Answer God's call and experience His burning love for you. A three-day convention to be led by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC and team at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Bangalore. Please spread the word.

Dates: October 27, 28 & 29, 2017

Divine Retreat Schedules

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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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