ENJOY THE WORLD OF GIFTS

My fellow-Jesuit friend Hedwig Lewis gifted me his new book. I found the title of the book very interesting: PERSONS ARE OUR BEST GIFTS. We do appreciate our friends. We value their love and friendship as precious to us. Friends make our lives great and worthwhile. In the book of my friend Hedwig, who considers every friend as a gift, has a variety of stories of people, stories of personal experiences and narration of great persons. We can draw inspiration and encouragement for our lives from the book.

In this essay I consider not only persons are gifts but also everything else which comes across the path of my life. Everything in the world is gift for me. In the last analysis I do not consider myself as owner of anything. The sun-light coming through my window, the rain, plants, animals, insects – in sort, all animate and inanimate beings are precious gift of God to me.

After all, what is my life? My life is God’s precious, invaluable gift to me. Naked I came into this world. I didn’t have any clothes or ornaments. Clothes, ornaments, toys were all gift to me. Today whatever things I have or possess – they are all received as gifts.

Take for example my parents. The Creator God’s precious gifts to me are my father and my mother. I did not choose them. Similarly my sisters, my brothers, my relatives and my friends as well as anything and everything are invaluable gifts of God to me. When I consider anyone and anything as God’s precious gift to me, I am reminded of a unique character of Job in the Bible. I have written a long character-sketch of Job in my book on (Old Testament) Bible Characters published by R. R. Sheth & Co. Mumbai-Ahmedabad. The book is now out of print.

Introducing the character of Job the Bible says: “Job worshipped God and was faithful to him. He was a good man, careful not to do anything evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, one thousand head of cattle, and five hundred donkeys. He also had a large number of servants and was the richest man in the East.”

Job was a very happy and prosperous person with sons and daughters, friends, much live-stocks and property. Job lacked nothing in life. Job’s sons used to take turns to give feasts to which all others would come. They all enjoyed life eating and drinking. In the midst of this happy and contented life calamities struck Job one after another. There were natural disasters and man-made calamities. In the course of time Job lost everything: his sons and daughters, his live-stocks and all other properties. Finally Job’s whole body was covered with sores. Job became weak and bedridden. Pitying Job’s condition his wife said: “You are still faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?”

But Job continued to cling to his faith in God. He told his wife: “You are talking nonsense! When God send us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us trouble?”

Three friends of Job visited him and said to him very discouraging and hopeless things. Job acknowledged that he is much afflicted. But still Job remained steadfast in his faith in God. His response to the calamitous situation is classic: “I was born with nothing, and I will die with nothing. The Lord gave, and now he has taken away. May his name be praised?”

Gandhiji, we know, did not consider himself as the owner of whatever things which he possessed; but he said that he was only a steward responsible to take care of them. There are two ideas or two thinking behind the consideration of stewardship. The first thinking is that everything is God-given. The second thinking is that everything one possesses is not for oneself but for all especially for those in need.

We have people saying: My money is for me by right. It is my earning; it is the fruit of my hard work. In this context let us a few questions: Who gave you your right? Who all helped you that you are able to earn? From where did your money come from? Who all created your wealth?

If we ask ourselves these questions and sincerely seek their answers, then we need to acknowledge that a lot of people are involved helping us to earn our money; and we owe much to them and realize that we have no exclusive right to our money. We have received everything through or from others. In the last analysis everything belongs to the Creator God and everything is God’s generous gift to us. So with a sense of love, care and sharing with people, let us express our gratitude to God the sources of every good things.

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Changed On: 16-03-2019

Next Change: 01-04-2019

Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2019

 

 

REFLECTION OF AUSPICIOUS BEGINNING

The king looks at his ring in the morning and in twilight. The king looks at his ring in the midst of problems and difficulties. The king looks at his ring in his happiness and in his sorrow.

 

Who is this king? Why does the king look at his ring? What does the king see on his ring? The poet Theodore Tilton has composed the poem entitled “Even this shall pass away.” But the poet does not give the name of the king. The poet says clearly that the king is looking at his signet ring to read a message engraved on it. And the message is revealed in the title: “Even this shall pass away”.

 

Poet Theodore Tilton has written the poem in seven stanzas with eight lines in each stanza. Here to get a fair idea of the poem I quote here the first stanza of Tilton’s poem:

“Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they:
Even this shall pass away.”

In nature some trees shed their leaves completely while some other trees shed their leaves partially. As the trees shed their leaves so too time passes out. One year passes to make way for the New Year. Like the trees and the year human lives too leaves behind many things as time passes.

Pleasant and unpleasant experiences, sorrows and happiness, big and small events of our lives, all pass away. As the engraved maxim of king’s signet ring tells us everything in our lives passes away some time or other. Nothing is permanent.

We would like to remember some events during our whole life. But there are also some events which we would like to forget once and for all wishing never to recall them. Whether we like to remember or forget, some pleasant and unpleasant experiences or events of our life remain with us always. Whether we like them or not, they are part and parcel of our personal life history.

At the end of a year we may recall them all such pleasant and unpleasant experiences and events with a totally detached attitude as a preparation to enter the New Year. The lesson learnt from the past good and bad experiences helps us to build our hopes and dreams for prosperous New Year.

       Our values, ideals and attitudes play a great role in making our hopes and dreams to be realized in a New Year. We know from our personal experiences that positive values like love, forgiveness, mercy, service, equality and peace have great importance to make our life happy and fruitful. On the other hand, negative values such as hatred, enmity, intolerance, etc. kill the joy of living and rob our happiness. The negative values create tension and disquiet in life.

I am very certain that our new year will be happy and peaceful if our basic value is love; if our ideal is love and if our attitude is love. When we look around us we see that lives of people are very different. Their values, attitudes and ideals are different. But true love understands everything. True love looks at everything with compassion and understands everything. True love looks at people with respect and with a sense of equality. True love deals with mercy and compassion with everyone. Forgiveness and tolerance is the way of true love.

A deep understanding of love tells us that as human beings we are all equal and needs to care for one another. A human child is totally helpless; its survival depends on others. But in real life we are not prepared to accept this reality of equality and the need for one another.

English writer G K Chesterton tells us that, what most frightening for man is all men and women are the children of the one and the same God. The French revolution was based on equality, fraternity and freedom. In it we see the recognition of the equality of the whole people on the face of the earth. Wide spread inequality and indolence are challenges for us today.

If we believe in God, or even if we do not believe in God, we can understand that we are all born equal as human beings. This is also true when we face death which is a great equalizer. At death we leave this world totally alone as at our birth. This universal fact should help us to live a sane life between our birth and death.

  Beginning with this new year let us resolve to make our lives happy and prosperous by walking on the path of true love and positive attitudes like equality, tolerance, kindness, etc. Let us resolve to do things on the way of love and peace instead of intolerance and conflict. If we make mistakes in our efforts, let us seek forgiveness, let us be first to apologize with much love and compassion. Keep our goal of happiness as a priority in our lives.

As we step into the new Christian era let us accept first of all that our life is short; our life is fragile. So every new day which we get let us resolve to walk always on the path of love and peace. Let us also be alert against all forces which comes on the way of love such as our misunderstanding, our failures, our misdeeds. When we become aware of them, let us repent and ask forgiveness. Or perhaps we need to forgive even before the offender asks for our forgiveness. We need a big and generous heart to forgive. We need real humility to seek forgiveness from others. Love and forgiveness liberate us from hatred and enmity and ill feeling. Genuine love makes our life happy and enriching. I wish that your new year become for you a unique year of happiness and prosperity.

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Changed On: 01-03-2019

Next Change: 16-03-2019

Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2019

 

 

MAKE YOUR LIFE HAPPY

            Someone has said, “Life is a pursuit after happiness.” But the irony is that by pursuing happiness you can never become happy! But there is no need to be sad or disappointed with it. There is an unfailing way to be happy, a miraculous short cut to be happy.

Before we discuss about the unfailing way or the miraculous short cut, let us see three persons who have found the way to lead a very happy and contented life. Former President of India A. J. Abdul Kalam was a very happy man in his life. His countenance, his behavior especially his dealing with all types of people revealed his inner peace and happiness of life.

One day a journalist asked Abdul Kalam: “Dr Kalam, you always look very happy. You face every situation with much enthusiasm and energy. You encounter all sorts of problems with a sense of peace and love. What is the secret of your being happy always?

Dr Kalam’s response left his every listener with wonder and amusement. He said, “In every situation I think of only one thing: What can I give to others? When I meet children my thoughts are about what I can give the children. What a response! What a positive attitude? What an idea?

Mother Teresa too like Dr. Abdul Kalam was a renowned, popular and happy person. Everyone admired and appreciated her love and compassion for the poor and the needy. In her life Mother Teresa has faced innumerable problems and great difficulties. But she faced them boldly and still she remained always a happy and interiorly a peaceful person. Her words and behavior in India and in many foreign countries are proof of her love and interior peace. Everyone is well acquainted with Mother Teresa’s positive attitude and generous nature. Here let me quote just her three well-known saying. Firs, “Give generously till it hurts you – give with a smile with a pleasant face.” Second, “Strong love does not look at the measure but continue ever giving.” Third, “If you want really love, than learn to forgive.”

Mother Teresa’s speech in response to her award of Noble Peace Prize is very memorable. Addressing a distinguished audience at Nobel Peace Award function at Oslo Mother Teresa said on October 10, 1971. “God has created all open to give and received love.” Her entire talk was almost building up our lives. Mother Teresa has not only spoken about love but she also lived her talk. Her behavior was always revealing her love for one and all.

In her speech at Oslo Mother Teresa narrated an incident. One day Mother Teresa and her sisters went out and returned taking with them four dying people from the streets. One of the four was very seriously sick. So Mother Teresa told her sisters. I take care of this serious case and you please look after the other three persons. I will take care of this one as her condition is very serious. I poured on her all the love I was capable of. I put her on a bed. There was a beautiful smile on her face. She took my hand in her hands and just said one work. “Thanks”. And then she died in my hands. “She gave me her grateful love and with a smile on her face she breathed her last breath,” Mother Teresa said. I was impressed by Mother Teresa’s speech at Oslo so much that I translated her whole speech into Gujarati and included it as an appendix to my book on Mother Teresa: A world renowned personality: Mother Teresa.

Here I would like to give an example of a third person who may not be famous like Abdul Kalam and Mother Teresa. Sometime back I read about him in some magazines or newspapers. Not many people knew him till the United States of America honoured him with the Man of Millennium Award. As part of the Award the man was given no less than rupees 30 crores. The entire award money was give away for the needy people! He, the great donor, is Palam Kalyanasundaram.

Kalyanasundaram has worked as a librarian for 30 or so years. He has distributed to the poor people his whole salary. For his own maintenance he worked daily in a hotel after his library duties. I have read recently in WhatsApp message that the rupees Ten lakhs, which he received at retirement too was distributed to the poor and needy people!

Kalyanasundaram found happiness in his whole life not in getting and accumulating money and wealth for himself but in distributing to the poor and needy his whole earning. With his selfless giving he made happy innumerable poor and needy people. He found his own happiness in making others happy.

Abdul Kalam, Mother Teresa and Palam Kalyanasundaram: these three great world renowned personalities are selfless other-centred persons. They found their happiness in selfless giving. Such generous selfless people show us the way, the secret of happiness. They found their happiness in giving generously especially to the needy and the poor people.

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Changed On: 16-02-2019

Next Change: 01-03-2019

Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2019

 

GIVE THANKS, ENJOY LIFE

I was sitting in the varandah of my house on a day after my mother’s burial on June 11, 2017 enjoying the warmth of the rising sun in the east. I was reading the daily newspaper “Deepika”. In front of me on the wide court yard three workers and their contractor Bashir were busy removing the mandap. Then my brother Vincent appeared on the front door and seeing the workers said aloud, “Bashir, last two days there were very heavy rains! But not a drop of water came down inside the mandap! Thanks a lot for your workmanship. I am immensely grateful to you, Bashir!”

My brother Vincent’s sincere appreciation made Bashir to smile from ear to ear expressing his joy and satisfaction of his work. In English Bashir could have said, “Vincent Sir, you have made my day! With your words of gratitude you have made my whole day beautiful!”

The word ‘Thanks’ has great power. With the sincerely said word ‘Thanks’ even an enemy could became friend. Thanksgiving can change hatred and enmity into love. The quarrelsome neighbours may forget their hatred and can became good friends.

Filled with sincere gratitude many known and not so known personalities have expressed inspiring words about thanksgiving and gratitude. Roman statesman Cicero said, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all the other virtues.” A well known Christian saint Ambrose has said that, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” A French proverb says that, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart”. Then, the Bible exhorts us, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.”

The American people give great importance in expressing their thanks and showing their gratitude. Some years back I was in USA to participate in an Executive Body meeting as a Counsel Member of the International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP). After the meeting a journalist friend invited me to spend an evening with his family. On that day the Americans were celebrating their National Thanksgiving Day. The people gathered in their families and neighbourhood to celebrate together and express their gratitude to one-another for the gift of life, for their country and finally to God the Creator and Giver of all things.

My host and his family were celebrating the Thanksgiving Day together with their immediate neighbours with a grand dinner party where everything was in abundance. When I appreciated the great display of things after I came out of their family summing pool, the wife of my friend told me, “Fr Varghese, we poor Americans always celebrate in a grand way the Thanksgiving Day. In USA all people rich and poor, black and white without any discrimination of race, colour or religion celebrate Thanksgiving Day in a memorable way”.

Only in St. Luke’s Gospel there is the story of a rare gratitude. One day Jesus cured ten lepers who approached him pleading for his healing touch. Jesus told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priest” (as proof that you have been cured). Finding themselves cured on their way one of them a Samaritan (means a foreigner) returned to give thanks to Jesus for his miraculous cure. Then Jesus said, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? … Get up and go your way; your faith has saved you” (Luke 17: 15-19)

In some of the passage of the New Testament we see Jesus himself giving thanks to his heavenly Father. Jesus’ friend Lazarus was dead and buried for four days. Reaching his tomb and raising Lazarus back to life, Jesus said, “Father, I thank you for you have heard me. I know that you always hear me.” Then Jesus brought back Lazarus to life saying, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11: 41-44).

A number of Psalms in the Bible sing the praises of God and express the gratitude of the devotees. For example in Psalm 147 we sing:

“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving,

make music on the harp for our God.” (Ps 147: 7)

 

A short cut to the enthroned God in our hearts is our personal gratitude and thanksgiving to our Creator God. Many places of worship have the ambient/atmosphere of peace and tranquility. One day a new hermit came to the Guru and told him that he is not able to pray in the Ashram. Here I feel God is far away from me!

My brother, please do not bother that you are not able to pray here,” the Guru said. “You please do one thing every day during the prayer time. Recall one after another all the innumerable blessings and gifts with which the Good Lord has blessed you all through your past life. God will come to you and pitch his tent in your heart”, the Guru counseled him.

In a few days by praising God and thanking him for his gratuitous gifts, the new Ashramite could tell his Guru that he felt inner peace and a glowing presence of God as Love in his prayer and daily life. Prayer became easy for him as part and parcel of his daily routine. Besides, his whole life became happy and peaceful oozing love for all.

Let us enjoy our lives through the path of expressing our love and gratitude to all those who cross the path of our lives. Let us begin with expressing gratitude to God our Creator and all the people in our lives. Eventually we are drawn to wonder about the whole universe and thank God for the entire creation. So you may join the Psalmist:

“I sing a hymn of thanksgiving

and tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Ps 26: 7)

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Changed On: 01-02-2019

Next Change: 16-02-2019

Copyright..  Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2019

 

FR SAMUEL RAYAN: MY MENTOR IN THEOLOGY

I consider Fr Samuel Rayan as my mentor in theology. There is a little history behind it. My then Provincial Superior Fr Joseph Aizpun attended my priestly ordination in the famous Gesu Church, Rome on June 21, 1977. After the ordination Fr Aizpun asked me to continue my studies in Gregorian University for a Master’s degree (MTh) in Theology. A few of my friends and a professor friend too had suggested me to pursue my MTh there. So when Fr Aizpun asked me I was prepared with my answer.

I told him that I would do whatever he would tell me; but I have a proposal. I told him that I have been out of Gujarat for six years including 3 years in Europe. I was sent to London In the first place to study Journalism in London School of Journalism in view of editing the Jesuit-run Gujarati family magazine DOOT, the Messenger. I am losing my mastery of the Gujarati language. So it may be better for me to return Gujarat, take up DOOT and do the Masters in Theology as an external student of Vidyajyoti (VJ), Delhi.  Fr Aizpun who was my spiritual guide while I was studying in St Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad, readily accepted my proposal.

I returned to India in October 1977 and took up a second time editing DOOT from January 1978. Then I went to VJ and registered for MTh programme and the register Fr Gisbert Saunches, SJ suggested and I took Fr Samuel Rayan, SJ as my guide for my MTh studies. I told Rayan that more than a degree in theology I am interested in doing further studies for deepening my understanding of the Bible and the knowledge of theology. As an able guide and mentor Rayan suggested to me the theological subjects which I should pursue under different professors. I do not remember the different subjects but I studied the Acts of the Apostle under Samuel’s direction and the letters of St Paul and Transactional Analysis under two professors of Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune.  After a few years of regular visits to Delhi and Pune I submitted most of my study papers which were approved by the concerned professors.

Then on a visit to VJ, Delhi I had a memorable meeting with Fr Rayan. I told him that for me theological studies and reflection is an ongoing process. But as formal studies are concerned, I think that I have enough of it. Now if I continue and finish my MTh, then there is the ‘danger’ of being appointed as a staff person in the Regional theologate at Ahmedabad and consequently my press media works getting neglected!

Fr Rayan understood and appreciated my point of view and he said that it is okay. Subsequently I stopped my occasional visits to VJ, Delhi. But Gujarat province continued making financial contribution to VJ on my behalf as a registered MTh student. After two-three years then my Provincial Fr Stanislaus Fernandes (now Archbishop Emeritus of Gandhinagar) called me one day and told me, “Varghese, since you are not continuing and completing your MTh studies, let us call it a day. I am writing VJ Registrar to take out your name for the students’ list. It was like the Malayalam saying, “Dad wanted and the Doctor prescribed are one and the same, milk”.

But my contact with Fr Rayan continued with occasional meeting and reading his articles and books wherever they are published in India or abroad.  Then, in 1998 when I was the Secretary of the Association of Catholic Enquiry Centres India (ACECI), I invited Fr Rayan to give us the Keynote Address in the ACECI General Body Meeting at Indore on March 8, 1998, which he readily agreed.

Fr Rayan’s keynote address was so enlightening and inspiring for me that I got the written text from him and preserved it as a precious treasure all these 20 years. Early last year while I was clearing my files in view of possible transfer from the Catholic Information Service Society (CISS) I read Samuel Rayan’s paper and decided to circulate it among the ACECI members. Now that I am out of CISS from July 2018 and settled down in my new residence I started typing the more 5300 words-strong paper. Now with the news of Fr Samuel Rayan’s death at 98 years on January 2, 2018, I wish to circulate it as soon as possible.

A few years back I met Samuel Rayan at Lumen Institute, Ernakulum before he was transferred to Christ Hall, Kozhikode. He was well then as a model senior Jesuit with a clear, sharp mind. He was able to take care of himself. A wide circle of people know him from all over India and abroad. He started his priestly ministry as a teacher. Then he was the chaplain of Catholic Students’ Union first in Kerala and then of All India Catholic University Federation for 11 years. Later holding a doctorate in theology from Gregorian University, Rome Fr Rayan was appointed a professor of theology, Vidyajyoti, Delhi. After three decades of teaching theology and writing, he returned to Kerala in 2010.

I learned basic theology with Indian and Asian perspective from Fr Rayan. For him Gospel-inspired theology was man-centered. As an original thinker with deep spiritual insights he was often identified as a radical humanist and a Doyen of Asian Liberation Theology. He was totally committed to Jesus and his kingdom values.

I enjoyed reading Rayan’s articles and his books not only for their rich and inspiring content but also for the music of his language and the lucidity of his thoughts. His writings are for me always thought-provoking and challenging like the keynote address entitled EVANGELIZATION 2000 AND THE CATHOLIC ENQUIRY CENTRES INDIA which he delivered in the general body meeting of ACECI at Indore in March 1998.

Fr Rayan was a living encyclopedia of theology. His statement that you do not give Jesus Christ to any one, shocked me and others at Indore. For, he said: It should by now be clear that nobody brings God to the people; nor do we bring Jesus to India. God who loves the world and its people into existence and calls them to share His life and be Her children is always with them, accompanying them, speaking to them the Word of truth and love, guiding them in the Spirit, giving them the revelation and the grace they need. God is ever at work in the hearts and the histories of all peoples in order to save them.”

Then giving an example Fr Rayan said that you are evangelizers claiming to proclaim Jesus through the printed literature to people of other faiths. But no one goes to sell mud pots to a potters’ colony.  Then Fr Rayan added: “Jesus is in every human person, every race and culture.”

Let me quote again the concluding words of Fr Rayan from his keynote address given at Indore: “Let us never forget that Jesus is already and always present in all lands; is active in all cultures, and in all people’s quest and in the heart’s yearnings for justice and love. Here and now the Spirit is urging us to shine with the light of Jesus, to radiate Jesus’ gentleness and warmth, to cling to the truth at any cost, and to surprise the world by the newness and beauty of our group life and the fragrance of our relationships. And let surprise and wonder lead people to inquire, to come to know Jesus, and encounter God in Him.”

                         ( contact: vpaulsj@jesuits.net (M) 09428826518 www.varghesepaul.org  )

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Changed On: 16-01-2019

Next Change: 01-02-2019

Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2019

 

NOEL MEANS BIRTH OF LOVE

The Cold season begins in December. In the early morning the sun rays come through my window and endear me. The sight of the morning sun warms me up. After the rainy season the sky is clear. Slowly a red-hot ball in the sky spreads its brilliant rays. The green vegetation and the animal world come alive with new energy.

The sun shining brightly at a distance of 930 lakh miles from the earth nourishes every living beings and the whole vegetative life on earth. Imagine the earth without the sun! What will be the condition of the earth without the sun? Without the warmth of the sun-rays there will be no animal and plant life on earth! The earth-globe will be an enormous ice ball!

We experience the light and the warmth of the sun. God’s love for us, human beings, is like the sun. When we did not know God’s love for us, the Son of God, Jesus became a man and lived among us! Christmas is the birthday of Jesus who took the human form in every aspect except, as St Paul says, in sin.

The Almighty God takes the form of a humble, vulnerable human being when we cannot even imagine such a feat before it happened! The Almighty and omnipresent God become a weak human child! See the dependence of child Jesus. Like any child He is completely helpless on his own as he has become a humblest and simplest human child! The poor, simple shepherds were the first ones to hear about the birth of Jesus and came to have his ‘darshan’! They experienced joy and peace in his ‘darshan’ in a cow-shed!

But the same news of Jesus’ birth brings a totally different reaction in the palace of King Herod. The king and the whole court experienced panicky and terror! With the fear of losing his crown and his kingdom King Herod ordered the killing of all male children of two years and younger at Bethlehem and its surrounding areas! Learning that King Herod wants to destroy the child Jesus, his parents Joseph and Mary flee with the child to Egypt at the dead of the night.

The birth of Jesus and his childhood revel that Jesus is indeed a man sharing human life in every way. St Paul exhorting the followers of Jesus to walk in the footsteps of Jesus explains to us the sum and substance of Christmas saying: “He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to become equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like man and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross.” (Phil. 2: 6-8)

The sinful man on his own can never reach the perfect God. There is a great unbridgeable gap, a bottomless pit, between us human beings and God. But the Son of God took a great step to fill the pit, to bridge the gap. The Creator of the whole universe, the entire creation chose to become just a part of the creation! St John has beautifully described the story of Jesus becoming a man. “The Word was in the world, and though God made the world through him, yet the world did not recognize him. He came to his own country but his own people did not receive him.” (John 1: 10-11)

The Jewish people were expecting for years for the coming of the Redeemer. They were eager to welcome the Redeemer. They believed that as a chosen race by God the Redeemer will come from among them. But when Jesus came as a perfect human child, the Jewish people did not recognize him as their expected Redeemer! They did not welcome him as their Redeemer! They did not welcome Jesus but continue to look forward to the coming of the Redeemer, the promised Messiah!

The Creator of the whole universe and the omnipresent God is present in our midst as a simple, helpless child! Upanishad says: “The great Soul is like the salt melting in the water. We cannot see the salt mingled in the water. Still we can know that the salt has been mixed with the water by tasting. Whether you know him or not, whether you accept him or not, whether you follow him or not, Jesus, who was born of a woman, is present in every person like the salt melted in the water.

The different, big and small characters in the Bible are models for the followers of Jesus. Like the biblical characters all the people with open mind and with God’s grace are able to recognize and welcome Jesus in their lives. Similarly we too can recognize Jesus with open mind and with God’s grace. We can accept Jesus. We can follow him. All those who seek Jesus with open mind will find him.

Jesus’ incarnation, yes Jesus’ coming among us human being is continuing today in our midst. The entire universe proclaims God’s love for us. The Babe of Bethlehem sleeping in the crib invites us saying: “Do come and recognize the infinite love which God the Father has for you in the child Jesus. His unconditional love is for you. God welcomes and accepts you as you are without any condition. He wants to make you as his own.”

Truly we can say that Christmas is a feast of love. It is indeed a celebration of God’s unconditional love for each person. So Christmas or Noel means the birth of God’s love in the person of Babe Jesus. Jesus is the personification of God’s love.

TO FOLLOW MY CONSCIENCE IS MY NEW YEAR RESOLUTION

On this New Year I imagine myself being on a cross road. In front of me there are four roads for me to choose from. Which are the four roads? First road is one of laziness and inactivity. Second road leads you to follow the leaders living selfish life without any moral principle. Third road is one that leads you to unjust and untruthful life. The fourth road leads you to true life on the path of justice and morality. Which road you will take is a vital question.

Certainly I will take the fourth road of justice and morality leading to truthful living. I feel that to be steadfastly on my chosen path a New Year resolution will be a great help. Then comes a question. What resolution of the new year will be helpful and encouraging me to be on the chosen path of justice and morality? My new year resolution is to follow my conscience. Yes, I know that on the cross roads of my life most suitable resolution is to follow my conscience. Even if the other choices at the cross roads of life are attractive and tantalizing but they eventually lead me to unhappiness and destruction.

Behind my resolution to follow my conscience there are my telling experiences. For instance, I went to New Zealand in October 2016. My nephew Shaju, who lives there, has been inviting me for years to visit him. “Uncle, you travel so many times abroad, why don’t you visit me in New Zealand and spend your holidays with us?” I have been telling him that I have been going to foreign countries only to attend international meetings and seminars but not for holidays.

Then one day late in 2015 I told Shaju that I have an invitation to attend the World Conference of International Christian Organization of the Media (ICOM) at Philippines as a resource person. So there is a possibility of my going to the world conference.

“Uncle, then you can visit me either before or after the World Congress at Philippines,” Shaju said. Then after inquiring the details of the World Congress and my availability, Shaju booked my air ticket via Manila to Oakland and back to India. Consequently from October 16th I was able to spend 11 days with Shaju and family in New Zealand.

Two things of the people of New Zealand impressed me deeply during my trip to that great country and I got the inspiration for my new year resolution. Shaju is working in the Social Service Department of the Health Ministry in New Zealand. His wife Mini is working in the biggest government hospital at Oakland as a nurse. Speaking and discussing with them about their life in New Zealand I learned two things about the New Zealand people. First, the people’s appreciation for human life and second, the trustworthiness of the people.

First, the appreciation of human life and the concern and care for life concretely shown in charitable, loving services. A few years back when a few people died in an accident in a coalmine the people in entire New Zealand were plunged into sadness and bereavement. The people felt the sorrow not just for a day or two but for a long, long time and expressed their concern and care not only in the mass media but also in their daily lives. I heard often about it from Shaju’s phone calls and letters for a long time.

This time on my visit Shaju narrated to me a concrete experience. As part of his service he drives an office van to visit recovered or recovering patients in their homes to enquire and assure their welfare after they have been discharged from the hospital. The patients take regular medication, do physical exercises themselves, and that they have sufficient-social life, outdoor games, etc. are Shaju’s concern as a social worker. Often he himself takes groups of them in his van entertaining them in sports grounds and public parks.

One day Shaju was driving his van to the house of a patient. On the way a car driver coming very fast from a roadside bungalow hit his van making it spin and overturn. Both the vehicles suffered much damage. But fortunately both the drivers escaped unhurt. Shaju immediately phoned his office and informed about the accident.

After medical test Shaju was told that he may go home and take two-three days of rest before resuming his duty. Shaju told the officer above him that he is mentally and physically fit to continue on his job and he took another office vehicle and went on to do his routine responsibilities.

Later the investigation revealed that the car driver was under the influence of drugs and that he has been punished twice before with imprisonment for similar offences. Narrating the incident Shaju said, that there was no differentiation between a local citizen and a foreigner like him but the authorities treated all people with a sense of equality, justice for all and with equanimity. He did not feel that he was a foreigner there.

With the appreciation of human life by all people in New Zealand the second thing which impressed me most was the trustworthiness of all the people. In other words the people in New Zealand are truthful and straight forward. I will give you an example. When I was in Auckland Shaju’s son, Jovin, was on his way to Auckland University. He stopped his car at a traffic signal. Then a car hit his car with some force. Both the drivers escaped unhurt but both their cars suffered some damage; but they could proceed to their destination.

Back home Jovin narrated the incident to Shaju. My nephew said to his son. “You are safe so there is nothing to worry. The car has insurance. Tomorrow when you go to the university take the car and give to a garage to estimate the damage and do the repair work. In the evening I will pick you up from your university main gate.”

On the third day Shaju got a call from the car insurance. “Your car is damaged so much that it is not worth repairing. We will get you your full insurance money in 2 days time. The money will be transferred to your bank account.”

“Uncle,” Shaju told me, “Here people do not do any cheating in anything. They don’t tolerate any falsehood. They fully believe in the people and in what they say. Like in India there is no controversy and search for truth and negotiation.”

My experience is that here many of us tell lies without any shame or prick of conscience. People stealthily take bribes and do underhand dealings. Among such people my New Year resolution to follow my conscience, I believe, is a great challenge for me and for all people. But such a difficult resolution is necessary in the long run to make our lives more loving, peaceful and enjoyable. Let us then decide to take this difficult New Year resolution and firmly decide to adhere to it rising up as often us we fall. In the final analysis if you want to live a peaceful life and enjoy the love and respect of other people such a resolution and adhering to it resolutely is absolutely necessary.

In such a situation I am firmly convinced that the ideas expressed in an ancient hymn will be realized:

“Love and faithfulness will meet,

righteousness and peace will embrace.” (Psalms 85: 10).

Wish you a Happy New Year 2019.

#

Changed On: 16-12-2018

Next Change: 01-01-2019

Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2018

ACHIEVEMENTS OF HARD WORK & EXPERIENCE

Pablo Picasso is one of the best known and widely appreciated artists of the 20th century. He is called an epoch-making artist of his time. The Spanish born artist spent most of his productive years in France. I have been privileged to visit his paintings in well known museums like Louvre at Paris, Prato at Madrid, National Museum at Barcelona, Offici at Florence. My eyes have also feasted on Picasso’s art works in museums at cities like London, New York, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco.

April 23, 2017 issue of a Malayalam daily published an article on Pablo Picasso by my friend and writer Fr. Jose Panthamplathotiyil. In it the author has narrated the story of woman encountering Pablo Picasso.

One day Picasso was taking a walk. A woman met him and recognizing him as a well known painter. “Sir, I am your fan. I love your art pictures and adore them. I like your pictures very much,” the woman said.

Thanking the woman for her words of admiration and appreciation Picasso continued walking. “Sir, in memory that I met you, please draw something as a souvenir for me”, the woman pleaded with Picasso.

“What can I draw on this road? I do not have paper, brush and colours with me to draw something for you!” Picasso said.

But the woman was not one to take a ‘no’ easily. So she entreated him insistently: “Sir, Please draw a few lines on a piece of paper as a souvenir for me.” The woman persisted.

Appreciating the woman’s enthusiasm and eagerness for a souvenir, Picasso took out a piece of paper and a pencil and drew a small picture for her. He gave it to the woman saying, “Take this picture. It is worth ten million dollars!”

Picasso did not even take 10 second to draw the picture. So the woman could not believe that, that picture would be worth ten million dollars! Still the woman profusely thanked the Picasso and went her way.

After sometime the woman took the small picture to an art connoisseur to know the real price of the picture. The connoisseur recognizing Picasso’s art picture and said to the woman: “The cost of this art work of Picasso would be more than ten million dollars!”

Sometimes later after hearing from the art-expert the woman met Picasso and told him, “Sir, I have come to know that the picture which you drew for me really costs 10 million dollars! Now I would like to be your disciple to learn to draw pictures of great value in a very short time.

“The picture which I drew in a very short time costs ten million dollar. But bringing value to my pictures I have worked 30 long years and gained invaluable experiences. Are you ready to work long years and gain valuable experiences like me?”

The woman was silent to answer Picasso’s question!

Picasso’s father was an artist and professor. Picasso was not born as an artist. But from early childhood years he got training and practiced as an artist. And he became a world renowned artist with long years of valuable training and invaluable experiences.

Here I would like to share with you the long years of hard work and invaluable experiences of a person who has become a model for achievement for our times.

There is a famous military engineering college at Pune. A young man reached there to give interview for admission in the post graduate in electronic engineering. Hundreds of young people from all over India came to give interview. The interview time was given at 8 AM. The gate of the military engineering college opened exactly at 8 AM and admitted for the interview all those who were at the gate. Those who came even a few minutes’ late for interview got eliminated at the gate for turning up late!

One question in the interview was who was his/her ideal person? As one young man told me many youngsters gave the names of well known personalities in political and cine world or others who have made a name in their chosen field.

The young man’s turn came and he was asked who his ideal person was?

“My Papa is my ideal,” the young man replied.

“Why your Papa is your ideal?” asked the interviewer again.

My Papa served in the Air Force for 15 years and then took voluntary retirement so that he can take care of his ageing parents. Then, as an occupation he started an automobile garage with the name ‘Jawan’. He started Jawan with 4 motor mechanics and today my Papa employs 44 motor mechanics and others with good pay and incentives. My Papa with hard work and experience learned a lot and helped his employees to grow and live happily. Consequently he became the leader in his field. Behind his achievement I find his commitment to the profession and hard work.

I do not need to say that, the young man got selected in the interview. He did M.Tech. for two years and then in campus selection he got a prestigious job at Mumbai.

The owner of Jawan Automobiles Vincent Paul is my younger brother and his son, the young man who gave the interview Sunny Vincent is my nephew. As a Managing Director Vincent has been doing excellently well especially committing himself not only to the steady development of Jawan Automobiles but also for the caring for Jawan’s mechanical workers and clerical staff personnel working with him.

With steady hard work and gaining valuable experiences of years people like artist Pablo Picasso and Vincent Paul are outstanding examples of great achievers in our midst. Their life and achievements are inspiration and encouragement for people who cares for values like love and service to humanity. They are ambassadors of true development and achievements.

There is a saying in English and I agree 100% with it that great achievements are 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. The Bible tells us, “You will have to work hard and sweat to make the soil produce anything until you go back to the soil from which years were formed. You were made from the soil, and you will become soil again.” (Gen. 3: 19)

Finally let us remember the words of American President Lindon Johnson (1908-73). “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”

 

 

ENJOY THE JOY OF GIVING

On various auspicious occasions we light a lamp or burn a candle. When I see a lighted lamp or a candle I think of the sentiments and ideas behind it. Hence the question: Why do we light a lamp or burn a candle?

Here I am reminded of a poem by Poet Ravindranath Tagore. It says:  “Go not to the temple to light a candle before the altar of God.  First you remove the darkness of sin from your own heart.” I like this stanza of Tagore’s poem because of its relevance to all people of all times.

We light lamps on Diwali feasts. The lighted lamps call us to look into ourselves and remover from our lives the things which bring darkness like selfishness, jealously, neglect of the poor, hatred, hoarding of wealth and attachment to them. These are sins both internal and external. We need to get rid of them all. They need to be replaced by good works, which light up our hearts and our whole lives.

Let us not miss any opportunity to do good. I am on the road. At the Income Tax cross road at Ahmedabad I stopped my car and I saw an autorickshaw stopping close by. As the auto stopped a child with protruding ribs extended both his hands before a beautiful young lady in the auto. The lady looked at the child and then opened her purse putting her right hand in it.

Like me the boy might have thought that she would take out a five rupee coin or a ten rupee note to give as alms … But instead, she took out a small looking glass and began to adjust her eye-brows and curly hair. The child continue staring at her and stretching his hands. Meanwhile, thinking that the disappointed boy may come to my car I hurriedly took out a ten rupee note from my purse. But then the red light turned into green and I took a U turn to go to Stadium 6 road crossing.

At Stadium cross roads when I stopped my car at red light signal I saw a pregnant woman. The emancipated woman was carrying an undernourished child in one hand and begging bowl in the other. I usually do not help the beggars at cross roads as they could not only obstruct traffics but also cause accidents. The woman was away from me and still I opened my car window and took the 10 rupee note. The woman seeing me opening the window came quickly to me and took the money saying something like “God bless you” and moved to the next vehicle.

On any and every occasion we can enjoy the joy of selfless giving. For instance, smiling at the person looking at you, you can share your joy of being happy with a fellow human being. The poor people are always there in our midst. Helping them in their needs without expecting anything in return gives us unalloyed joy.

Recently I heard a story of sharing joy of selfless giving. My nephew Sanu Vincent was driving my sister Sr Lissy Paul and me to Ernakulam railway station. To cover a distance of less than two hours, we started three hours ahead from home as some times heavy traffic might prolong the journey. To my inquisitive sister Sanu was telling about his works and how his 45 workers in his automobile garage are happy without any problem.

“I am happy to hear that your workers and their families are happy as they get regularly good salaries and incentives. But do you help any poor people?” Lissy asked.

“Yes, Aunty. I help two-three needy families,” Sanu said.

But the inquisitive aunty was not satisfied with the short reply. “Whom are you helping and what sort of help you give them?” Lissy asked.

There was not much traffic on the way and Sanu was driving and talking in a relaxed way. He narrated one after another not two or three but five poor people whom he helps on a regular basis. Here I remember the fifth family whom he was helping.

One day a boy came to his garage to sell home appliances.  An automobile service station is not a place to sell home appliances. So before his secretary send the boy away, Sanu called him to his cabin and enquired about his business. The boy narrated his story. He has recently left the school to help his mother to run the house after his father, a daily wage earner, got paralyzed on one side and was  bedridden at home. His mother runs the home with her meager earning by cleaning and doing other household works of three families in their neighbourhood. His younger sister is still studying in school.

Sanu felt that he should help the boy to continue his study. Still not to be cheated Sanu visited the home of the boy in the following Sunday and found that everything was true as the boy had said. So he told the boy’s mother that he would help regularly her with their house rent and the boys school fees. So he was helping the family with a fixed amount every month.

The joy is great in helping a needy person without expectation of getting anything in return. Someone has said that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. As if a proof of the saying Sanu concluded his narration of selfless help saying, “Aunty, what we give away is our true wealth”.

Everyone knows that in giving there is joy. But people have hundred and one reasons for not selflessly helping needy people. Some say, “How can I help anyone when there is not enough for me and for my family?”  Someone else will say, “The poor people are lazy; they do not want to work. So they remain poor.” Still others will say, “The poor people suffer much because of their past life or of the evil they committed in their previous birth! There is no escape as they have to pay the debt of their former births!” Some people even have advice to the poor and needy people: “They should share even what they have recognizing others as their own brothers and sisters.”

People who are generous in their hearts will find ways and means to help needy people even when they do not possess much wealth. Let me recall here a well know story of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. He was from an aristocratic family. But with a noble heart he was very kind and generous towards poor and needy people.

One day Tolstoy was walking on a road. On the way he met some very poor people. He helped every one of them generously giving some money. Then, he saw a miserable looking man in rags with an extended hand. Tolstoy as usual wanted to help him. He put his hand in his coat’s pocket and he realized that his pocket was empty. There was not a coin left! The man in rags was looking at him with great expectation. Tolstoy embracing the man with much love and said, “Brother, please forgive me. I do not have even a small coin left in my pocket to give you!”

The poor man’s eyes brightened up. “Sir”, he said, “You have embraced me with much love and you called me ‘Brother’! It is much more than any money you can give me!” (A M D G)

Changed On: 16-11-2018

Next Change: 01-12-2018

Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2018

HOLY SPIRIT IN OUR LIVES

 There is an old, popular prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps some of you may know it by heart. I learnt it by heart when a retreat preacher began his talk with this prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit. Many Christian daily prayer books have it. It goes: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of divine love. Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and you will renew the face of the earth.”  This prayer speaks about three significant things about our Christian Spirituality:

1)      We are asking the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts. Here we acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in our lives;

2)      We are asking the Holy Spirit to kindle the divine fire within us. Here we acknowledge that the Holy Spirit within us as a fire;

3)      We are expressing our faith that the Holy Spirit will transform our lives and renew the face of the earth.

 

1)      THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND ACTIVE IN MY LIFE

When we are in the state of grace the Holy Spirit dwells in us. When we love God and fellow human beings the Holy Spirit shows forth in our lives. In the final parting discourse or the last prayer of Jesus in the Gospel according to St John, the Evangelist quotes Jesus:

“If you love me, obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.  He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you.” (Jn 14: 15-17)

 

St Paul also tells us the same thing in his letter to the Romans: “This hope (God’s approval) does not disappoint us, For God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.” (Rm 5: 5) Here St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit has been given to us and that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We are not mere flesh and blood as an atheist, agnostic or a rationalist tells us but our body is the aboard of the Holy Spirit.

This St Paul clearly indicates in his first letter to the Corinthians. He asks, “Don’t know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God?” (1 Cor 6: 19) Both in the letters addressed to the Romans and to the Corinthians St Paul speak often about the Holy Spirit swelling and acting in our lives.

In the letter to the Romans St Paul tells us, “For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live. Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For the Spirit God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!” God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children. Since we are his children, we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him. For, if we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory.”(Rm 8: 13-17)

In the first letter to the Corinthians we hear Paul telling us: “Surely you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit, lives in you! So if anyone destroys God’s temple, god will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you yourselves are his temple.” (1 Cor 3: 16-17)

 

2)      THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHIN US AS DIVINE POWER

We see the Holy Spirit descending on the Apostles and other disciples as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles. “When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. There were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.” (Acts 2: 1-4)

Fire is an image for the reality of the third person of the Trinity. It is a physical image to express a divine reality: A tongue of fire rested on each one of them! The image of fire is inspiring, igniting, illuminating the presence of God. We see the transforming changes taking place in the lives of St Peter and other apostles and disciples.

Those who were hiding behind closed door fearing attacks from those who crucified Jesus, not only come out in the open but also they boldly proclaim the Risen Lord Jesus in the Temple and in other public places. Not only the apostles and disciples but all the followers of the Way, the Christian community, are transformed and energized!

Acts tells us that God show no partiality. The Holy Spirit comes down on all including the Gentiles! The Gentiles are non-Jews. The Holy Spirit breaks the barriers of only Jews becoming the followers of the Way. So in the first letter to the Corinthians St Paul writes, “In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives different gifts to each person” (1 Cor 12: 13)

In his talk St Peter says, “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. Whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him, no matter what race he belongs to. (Acts 10: 34-35) We can imagine the situations in Jerusalem after the Jews and Gentiles heard Peter. Most people irrespective of Jews or non-Jews have jumped and danced expressing their joy. They heard Peter and other apostles spoke, each one of the listeners heard them in their own tongues, languages or dialects.

The devoted Jews must have been puzzled as they knew that the apostles were like them but now they are speaking in different tongues! So they accused the apostles being drunken babbling thinking which they, the speakers themselves, might now have understood! But Peter speaking on behalf of the apostles then defended themselves clarifying that they were not intoxicated with drinks in the early morning. Yes, they were intoxicated with the Power of God, the Holy Spirit, working through them.

Imagine the joy of a woman receiving her child just after she has given birth with immense pain and suffering. But with the child in her hand she is experiencing heavenly bliss! She is delighted with great joy. Her husband may also feel same heavenly joy. Imagine the ecstasy of the young couple! Imagine the joy of an young man/woman much sought-after, prestigious job with a more than expected pay-packet!

The Apostles and the disciples who received the Holy Spirit were on fire. They became fearless and daring people ready to face any situation and proclaim Jesus and his message of salvation. We know that the Apostles and early Christians challenged the then prevailing Greco-Roman culture. They proclaimed the values of Christ, very different from the worldly values of the time! In short they transformed the world with the values of Jesus Christ.

 

3)      THE HOLY SPIRIT TRANSFORMS OUR LIVES

The Holy Spirit transforms not only our lives but also the lives of everyone who receive the Spirit. So we say, the Holy Spirit transforms the earth. In the words of our prayer, the Holy Spirit “renews the face of the earth”. The Holy Spirit is given to you and me not just to keep it under lock and key or to bury it somewhere like the foolish servant in the Parable of Three Servants Mathew 25: 14-30 and in

Luke 19: 11-27.

In our Catechism class we have learnt about the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Do you remember them? They are 1) Wisdom, 2) Understanding, 3) Counsel, 4) fortitude, 5) Knowledge, 6) Piety, and 7) Fear of the Lord. Let us try to understand them.

1)      WISDOM is the first and greatest gift. Wisdom acts upon our intellect and our will. It illuminates our minds and gives us an attraction to divine.

2)      UNDERSTANDING helps us to grasp all truths and their purposes. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand the Scripture and religious truths.

3)      COUNSEL is a sort of super-natural intuition. The Holy Spirit through counsel enables a person to judge correctly and fast.

4)      FORTITUDE means courage, endurance.  Fortitude enables to stand up for thing things we think right and just and true.

5)      KNOWLEDGE gives us the ability to see things in God’s perspective. The Holy Spirit enables us to know the greatness of God revealed in everything in the creation.

6)      PIETY here means reverence especially for godly people, godly things. It is not religiosity but seeing God in others and respecting all people as brothers and sisters.

7)      FEAR OF THE LORD is something close to awe and wonder before God. It is an awareness of the Glory of God.

These seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are for our daily living. We have to cultivate and nourish these gifts by knowing them and cherishing these gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives. No one can concretely direct you how to cultivate and nourish these gifts of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit will tell us and guide us how to love where there is hatred, how to overcome injustice with justice, how to spread truth where there is falsehood, how to spread joy of the Spirit where there is sadness. Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and discern constantly what is good from evil. The fire of the Holy Spirit can light up the darkness within us, around us. The Holy Spirit is the fire of love in your life.

The Song of Song in the Bible tells us: “Love is as powerful as death; …. It bursts into flameand burns like a raging fire.” (Song of Song 8: 6)  We have to be aware of this raging fire which is the Holy Spirit in us, working through us, through our superiors, through the Church.

Once late Archbishop Alan de Lastic of Delhi told me, we may have different opinion in the Church but when we follow the teaching of the Pope, we can be sure that we are on the right path. No one is an all-knowing person. So obeying your superior and doing things under a superior’s direction you can be sure that you are on the right path.

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we are inspired to live for others. We live for others through various things we do in our community, through caring for others, through cleaning our rooms and the house, through working in the garden and through buying things for the community.

As we began this reflection let us also close it with the age old prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of divine love. Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and you will renew the face of the earth.”

Changed On: 01-11-2018

Next Change: 16-11-2018

Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2018