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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

"POWER FROM ABOVE" (Luke 24:49) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

Power '09 was a grand experience of the salvation and joy of heaven. For the thousands of youth who were here that week (26-31 July 2009), the experience of the power of the Spirit was a life-giving revelation. Coming from a very difficult culture and hosts of challenges, they realized that there was a choice for them. There was offered to them a new culture - the culture of the Holy Spirit which was what their hearts were made for. As they opened their hearts in all generosity to this offer, they received the mantle of the anointing of the Holy Spirit and became the ushers of the new culture of the Holy Spirit.

"Your Light Has Come" (Isaiah 60:1)

A very smart young man came to me halfway through the retreat and asked to speak for a few minutes and he broke down. I was surprised! He said he had never wanted to come for the retreat. But once he reached here, he experienced great joy and the "fullness of life" that he had longed for and searched for everywhere. But now the retreat will soon be over and he said, "The one thing I am not ready for is to go back to the realities of my life situation. I live in a culture that is corrupt. The friends I have, the schedule of my day, the lifestyle of my neighbourhood - I cannot walk away from these. And when I must go back to live in that setting, I will fall once again and darkness will dominate my life. My one preoccupation had been to jump from one pleasure to another just to divert my mind from the sad and painful realities of my life and family. Now when I get back there I just don't know how I can ignore my surroundings and live for Christ which has become my one great desire now."

I told him what the Word clearly expressed and from the testimony of the years of ministry here, "Your retreat is over. But the power of the Holy Spirit and the beauty of living with Christ are just about to begin in your life. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is not about one moment of spiritual ecstasy but about being empowered to take on life and emerge victoriously. It is about bringing light precisely where there is darkness. It is about transforming the world to reflect the glory of God."

At the end of the retreat this same young man came up to me, beaming and declared, "I was so happy to be here. I am waiting to get back to my home. I feel so impatient to begin my mission. And I will come back next year with a big group. And yes, Jesus and I are going to transform this world."

"What You Hear Whispered, Proclaim From the Housetop" (Matthew 10:27)

We find the young man Isaiah in the temple waiting in prayer (Isaiah Chapter 6). He is overwhelmed by the holiness of the Lord. "Above Him stood the seraphim... one called to another and said, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory' " (Isaiah 6:2-3). That is when Isaiah is struck by the bleakness of his own sinful nature and the impossible culture of sin he dwelt in. And he cries, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." (Isaiah 6:5). As his prayer went out in the holy presence of God, he felt his sins burnt away by the touch of God. He heard the voice of God speaking, "Your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven." (Isaiah 6:7) It was then that he could begin to feel the burden of God's own heart - "I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'" (Isaiah 6:8) And Isaiah reached out to receive the charge of a prophet to proclaim God's message to the world, "Then I said, "Here I am! Send me'." He went back to his own people and boldly proclaimed salvation to those who "dwelt in the land of gloom." God would use this prophet to speak most about the promised Saviour. To this day, the prophesies of Isaiah are repeated and prayed with for comfort and healing.

The Samaritan woman encountered the salvation of Jesus. Her first response was to go back to the very people of her village who despised her. "Come, see a man... Can this be the Christ?" (John 4:29) She became the first missionary proclaiming Jesus as Saviour. She would bring this entire village to Christ. One of the first healings recorded in the gospels is of Peter's mother-in-law. When this lady was healed she did not retire in happy rest but the gospel records that "immediately she rose and served the Lord." (Luke 4:39)

The touch of God is such an awesome experience it cannot be contained! Jesus healing the leper "sternly charged him" not to tell anyone of how he received his healing. "But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter." (Mark 1: 45)

St. Paul clearly explains to us that God "comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:4) If we have been drawn into the healing saving presence of God, it is so that we may lead others into this very presence and be channels of His salvation.

"You Shall Be My Witnesses" (Acts 1:8)

The commission Jesus gave to the disciples to be His witnesses, He already anticipated in the beginning. In the Sermon on the Mount he said to the people, "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16) He was exhorting his followers that their faith-life was bound to be missionary. A missionary is a person with a mission and a message to everyone. The sure purpose of salt is to bring taste to the food. The only aim of light is to dispel darkness. A Christian who ignores his mission to bring the experience of salvation the lives of the people around him is a defaulter to the calling. All of his occupations would only result in an empty and unfulfilled life.

As Pope John Paul II has clearly said, "To be Christian means to be missionaries… It is not enough to discover Christ - you must bring Him to others!" The Good News of the gospel should go forth from everyone who is committed to Jesus. Christianity is not about building an earthly paradise to live happily ever after. It is not about placating God to have my way made secure. It is rather the vision that liberates us to go out of our comfort zones in search of those languishing in pain and sin. The fullness of joy that the Lord promises EACH of us is only accomplished when I reach out in the giving of myself and the reason of my joy in sharing the good news of Jesus through my life, works and word. This was the joy the disciples declared and which is available to us, "That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you… that our joy may be complete." (1 John 1:3-4)

"To Be With Him, And To Be Sent Out" (Mark 3:14)

In our mission to bear witness, there are TWO attitudes. The first is to remain close to the Lord always. The message we convey and the mission we have is from the Lord. The power to continue and complete the mission is also a gift to be received. Hence Jesus asked the disciples to keep close to Him. "Abide in me and I will abide in you." (John 15:4) Jesus concludes his invitation to abide in Him by saying that, "You will bear much fruit." (John 15:5) The fruit that Jesus is referring to is the fruit of the Spirit (ref. Galatians 5:22-23). The powers of the Holy Spirit are to be constantly borne through our intimate union with the Lord. St. Paul tells us that it is when we are in union with the Lord that we shall be able to rejoice always, "Rejoice in the Lord always." (Philippians 4:4)

Jesus has warned us. If the salt loses its taste, it is good for nothing. If the lamp is kept under the bushel, it will become part of the darkness of the room. The light we need to radiate is received from Jesus because He is "the true light that enlightens every man." (John 1:9) "I am the light of the world." (John 9:5)

We must be conscious of the barrenness of over-activity. The disciples of the Lord shall not slip into this trap. When a person pours out all his energies into his various activities and perhaps into what he sees as his missionary urgencies, he gets exhausted and empty. He has become barren because he has cut himself off from God, the very source and reason for his mission. He now will question the very meaning of the mission that he was charged with. In order to bear fruit we need to find time to abide with the Lord. Everyday one needs to wait upon God to be forgiven of one's sins and to be strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit and to be given the mission afresh.

"My God Has Become My Strength" (Isaiah 49:5)

The second attitude is of readiness to reach out in a confidence solely founded on the power of God. Intimacy with the Lord will confer on us the power of the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles describes for us the powerful witnessing of Paul and Silas. They were imprisoned, bound by heavy chains, with jailors always keeping watch. In that most unfavourable situation, they were able to bear witness to Jesus with power. This was possible because they were in constant prayer. "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them." (Acts 16:24) The power of that prayer shook the foundations of the prison and opened the iron doors and broke down the chains. The jailor was frightened and was about to kill himself. In the midst of this turmoil, Paul and Silas exercises the power of the Holy Spirit and convincingly bore witness to Jesus, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31)

The forces of sin reigning in the world are often threatening and intimidating. We could soon get anxious and feel tired and give up. But one thing we must remember is that however overpowering it seems, evil is but feeble. A tiny flame will dispel the thickest of darkness! The forces of evil cannot hold out against the enduring truth of the Good News of Salvation. In the loving presence of Jesus, the strong fetters of greed fell apart. That was the experience of Zacchaeus (Luke Chapter 19). For the woman caught in adultery, the word of forgiveness of Jesus set her free from the shame and doom of her sin and led her to accept him as the Lord of her life (John Chapter 8). The compassionate look of Jesus turned the Samaritan woman rooted in lust to be a missionary proclaiming Jesus as the Saviour of the world (John Chapter 4). On Calvary the powers of jealousy, hatred and cruelty crumbled before the prayer of love that Jesus breathed from the Cross. And we have the assuring words of Jesus - "I am with you till the end of the ages." (Matthew 28:20)

This was the assurance young men and women were given at the POWER '09 Youth Conference. And they went out charged with a mission ready to give the message of love to everyone. Their hearts were determined to change the world and to win it for the Lord. They were no more willing to settle for the pleasures and comforts this world could offer. The wisdom of the Holy Spirit had dawned on them that this is a passing world and all its offers are fleeting, deceptive and destructive. Their new longing was for the real, eternal and life-giving relationship with the Holy Spirit. They were ready to give their life for a mission Jesus entrusted with them, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19) The world has received a new lease of hope as these young missionaries go out to all the corners of the earth, carrying the fire of Christ brightly burning in their hearts!

Lord Jesus Christ, God of heaven and earth, Light of the world, we praise and thank you for having chosen us to come into Your Glorious Presence. We have seen Your Face of Mercy, we have heard Your Voice of Compassion, we have received the power of Your Spirit and we know Your Love. And now we realize that You have always been with us; You have seen our tears and heard our cries even when we were lost to You. If today we live, it is because we have the confidence that You will never leave us. You have set us free from the burdens of sadness and despair the world placed on us. You have empowered us with Your Constant Presence. You have given us a reason to live and the courage to proclaim light where there is darkness; hope where there is despair; freedom where there is bondage.

Lord Jesus, today we realize Your Love is the unchanging strength of our hearts. And it is for You that we want to live. As we come before You, we commit our lives to You, we will speak Your words, live for Your glory, declare Your Salvation. Keep us close to You, guide us to glorify You for You alone, O Lord are the Salvation for this world.
Amen

 

 
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