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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

"Who is my neighbour" (Luke 10:29) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

“Love your neighbour” is an ancient commandment. It has been ever central to the pursuit of salvation. However, Jesus gives this a new interpretation in the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). To the question of the scribe “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus offers the parable to explain that responsibility or neighbourhood is not determined by proximity of any type, least of all by race or caste. To be the neighbour required an attitude of the total sharing of oneself with the other. To love is to be available to give of oneself to another in need. Along the path of our life there will always be people placed there for us live out our call to love.

“That they may see your good works, and glorify your Father” (Matthew 5:16)

In the parable, the Samaritan was in no respect close or connected to the Jew who was plundered and left wounded by the wayside. He was not of the same clan and apparently shared nothing in common with the wounded man. Rather he should have counted the Jew as being of the hostile tribe. But the Samaritan saw in him a neighbour to whom he was to be a blessing. He did not hold on to his racial prejudices or to his money. He even put aside his agenda and responsibilities for the day. He paused his journey, having compassion on the wounded man, bound his wounds, took him to an inn and undertook all the costs of his recovery. He shared whatever he had with him and held on to nothing that was his own.

The call of Jesus to every disciple is to “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:40) There is no one who can be stranger to anyone anymore. A follower of Christ looks at everyone as a neighbour with whom he should share his gifts. So does one become a blessing to everyone. So do we live out the call and identity Jesus accords us as He says - “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)

“We, who are many, are one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5)

St. Paul explained the mind of Jesus in the teaching on the mystical body of Christ. “By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12,27) Every man is incorporated into Christ as an organ in His body and in that respect everyone belongs to everyone else. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (v. 26). That brings in a mission to share oneself with others. Therefore St. Paul says, “Make love your aim.” (1 Corinthians 14:1)

The growth of man to his full stature is in the fullness of sharing love. God created us in love and placed us on this journey of life that we may grow in love. In living out the love of the neighbour I am acknowledging my God. Jesus would say that, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

In sharing love, I am above all acknowledging my belongingness to God. Everything I have is given by God and is to be shared by others. Everything I do not have is a space God has placed in me to receive from the sharing of others and so allow others to have a part in my life.

When we look deeply into ourselves, we will realize that we will never be able to be perfect ourselves, however much we try. However, in and through our relationship with God and one another, we will be able to grow to full maturity. Our weaknesses and our needs are not to be perfected by our own efforts. Self-sufficiency was never in the Plan of God for us. Our limitations are the gateways through which God and others are to enter into our lives.

Hence when we become aware of our weaknesses we do not need to become depressed. Rather this is a call to wait in hope realizing that through these doors, God and others are to enter into our life. Thus, there is a space in our lives for God and for others. When we deny entrance to God and to others, there will be a vacuum remaining unfilled in us. Therefore, when we do not love others we remain empty. Any expression of love which is not motivated by the mission to heal remains hollow and lacks merit.

If my call is to grow in love, to get enclosed in myself is the worst sin of my life. This is selfishness. And all sins flow out of this selfishness. When a person grows in love, evil tendencies are far removed from him. On the other hand when a man gets enclosed in himself, sinful passions abound in him.

“The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10)

I remember recently praying for a young lady who had been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Vibrant and highly qualified, she also had a deep and inspiring faith in God. She had been married for a few years to a successful businessman. God blessed both of them with a healthy and cute little boy. Shortly after childbirth, she was diagnosed with this rare form of cancer which however doctors suggested may be treatable. Once she was admitted into the hospital, shockingly, the husband became rather too busy for the family. He promptly handed the hospital bills to her parents. And since then she has been in the care of her parents. I met her husband as well. While claiming to be highly spiritual, he had many excuses why he could not take care of her. He even suggested that her family was the cause of all the problems.

I pointed out to him that her sickness was the call of God to him to live out his love for her. It was an opening for God’s Grace to flood this family and reveal His Glory. His shirking of his responsibility towards her was not merely failing in the marriage vows he made before God but was also a mockery of the faith he claimed to profess.

The limitation of a spouse or brother or neighbour is where the disciple must live out his or her commitment to God. Failing to respond to the cry of the other will be a cry of justice against us that shall pierce the heavens and reach God. And it is before God that we shall be called to give account for the failure to love.

“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:41)

There are people who claim to love because they have a circle of friends with whom they count themselves as being generous. But let us see who these friends are. Friends are invariably those who support our opinions and interests. So we align ourselves with them. We form a circle of like-minded allies around us. Then we take pride in the fact that we are outgoing and loving. Let us dare to examine honestly - ‘Truly, whom am I loving?’ The friends around us are those we hold on to as they pamper the ego. The moment they rebel against us or threaten our interests, we begin to distance ourselves from them. So it is not that we ever loved the person. The truth is that it is the inflated ego that we have been in love with. The so-called love we profess has been nothing but selfishness. This is not a growth to the perfection of love but the narrowing down of one’s vision to one’s own self. The Lord is clear when he points out the deceptions we settle for, If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?” (Luke 6:32-34)

One grows to maturity only when one is able to come out of oneself by giving oneself to others. When I give only by counting the need of the other and with no calculation or expectation of returns, then I am beginning to be true to the call of love and to myself indeed.

“For of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16)

The Bible tells us that God is the perfection and fullness of sharing love. The Father is the Supreme Fullness of Perfection. But He does not hold on to it all. He opens Himself to the Son for the whole of Himself to flow to the Son. This Love is the greatest joy of the Son as Jesus declared, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35) The Son after having been filled by the Father opens Himself to the Father. His every work and even His Glory, He attributes as coming from the Father. And His destination was to flow back to the Father - “I go to the Father.” (John 14:28) And this bond of Love is the Holy Spirit.

As we are anointed with the Holy Spirit, we will come to the realization that all of us are mysteriously incorporated to each other. Each of us is bound to every one else by a bond of love. This is the wisdom of the Holy Spirit which dawned on the early Christian community. That is when they began to share everything with each other. The Holy Spirit revealed to their hearts that the wealth and property each one possessed was not merely to be used by oneself but was given to them by God to be shared with each other. They grew in love. Thus there was a great sharing in the early Church. Sharing is a manifestation of love. We will be able to share only if there is love. If one does not feel the urgency to share, that means one does not have love in the heart. Every community thrives on sharing. That is why when a country goes through a financial crisis or a great loss it will ensure that all forms of hoarding are forbidden. Hoarding is detrimental to the welfare of any community. And it is a clear sign of a lack of dependence on Divine Providence.

During the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they rose to a sense of oneness and learnt to share. Therefore after Pentecost, the greatest sin is the refusal to share one’s possessions with others. In fact St. Paul classifies such greed as idolatry. There are people who imagine that all that they have made is achieved by their own efforts. They stock it up for their future in the thought that they would need all their possessions for their secure future. So no matter what they gain, nothing is sufficient for them. Such thinking compels them to cling on to their possessions and they cannot consider sharing with others in dire need.

The Bible was written to reject this thinking. According to the biblical insights, all that man has is given by God and therefore is meant to be shared with others. God continues to give that man may generously give to others. We are stewards whom God counts on to dispense His graces. I acknowledge God’s generosity through my generous and uncalculated giving.

“God will provide” (Genesis 22:8)

Abraham, the Father of believers was given this insight. He left everything behind and followed the Call of God. He started his pilgrimage with God having nothing in hand. All the time Abraham was aware that everything he had including his son was provided to him by God Himself. That was why without a protest he headed to sacrifice his son when he was asked to do so. Again when the son asked him on the way to Mt. Moriah where the victim of the sacrifice would be procured - he could simply declare that God will provide. This attitude of Abraham was clear in all his dealings that were marked with outrageous generosity. When Abraham and Lot had to part ways and choose their settlements, he allowed Lot the first choice and did not grudge him for picking the fertile land. What Abraham got was the desert. But from this desert, the people of God emerged. Again later we read how when Abraham won the war, the king urged him to take all the spoils of the war. However Abraham rejected the offer of the king. His argument was the world should not think it was the king who made Abraham rich. Abraham asserted it is God who makes him rich. This was the God Abraham experienced. He was free with his wealth because he knew that it was God’s gift.

“He felt compassion for them” (Matthew 14:14)

In the New Testament, we are brought to a moment when a lot of people gathered to listen to the preaching of Jesus. The Lord, moved with compassion, wanted to feed them. The disciple Philip warned Jesus of the impracticality and indeed the impossibility of the proposal. The disciple reasoned out that even 200 denarii could not buy bread to feed such a crowd. However how Jesus responded was with the question - “What do you have on hand?” Five loaves and two fishes were brought to Him. But with that meagre possession, they could not dare to even imagine that they could feed any one. They handed over their little possessions to Jesus. The Lord took it in His Hands and raised it up to the Father. With eyes lifted to the heavens He thanked and praised God, “Father, you are the source of infinite wealth. I have only five loaves and two fishes; the rest is in your hands. What I have is what is given by you.” With that prayer the serving began. Not only was it sufficient to feed the mammoth crowd but now there was an excess. When I realize what is in my hands is not sufficient for my needs, I must offer all that I have to God and wait for the supply from Above. No matter what, the serving should never be stopped! I need to be sharing with others what I have and what I expect from God.

There may be moments in our family life where we feel we have reached the end of our resources. This is the time to turn to God and in faith turn back to continue to serve, love and share. There may be around us someone whose need is rather great. We cannot afford to avoid them. For in their need, we are called to experience the grand Providence and Compassionate intervention of God. Here we are making a space for God in our lives by our daring to step out courageously.

God will never abandon us. When He calls us to go that extra mile, it is because He will walk with us. And in that extra mile, His glory is manifested. But failing to reach out to my neighbour in distress is failing God.

Let us pray

Lord of love and mercy, we bring to you our hearts and we pray pour out your love in our hearts. We praise you Lord for every gift you bestowed on us. Not only were you blessing us but were calling us to be your instruments. You trusted us to reflect your glory. Today Lord we offer to you all that we have and treasure for we know that these are yours. We place our hands in yours that you may guide us to give generously and heal unfailingly.

We thank you for every person you brought in to our lives whom we could serve and who have served us. In this sharing of love your faithful presence and your generous providence was there. Yet Lord we have failed those who turned to us for help, we have despised and ignored them. We ask you Lord to pardon us for our failure to trust, to love and to heal. We pray Lord that as we wait on your Spirit that you will redeem us in the experience of your love and make us channels of healing and blessing.


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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, 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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