Mar 28, 2012

Lenten Reflections '12: Week 6

Today we live in a world where we are bombarded with confusing values. We encounter a ‘school of thinking’ that considers money as the highest value in life. We also witness many people, especially the young, being pulled into the rat race for money. When this school of thinking is pushed to the extreme, it even leads to the violation of the first commandment - money, and all that can be bought with money, becomes God. This displacement of God from the hearts of individuals ultimately destroys the society.
On one hand we can attribute these problems of the modern society to socio-economic and political reasons. On the other hand, a deeper analysis will reveal that the root cause of most of the problems - whether it is the ‘widening gap’ between the rich and the poor, or ‘global warming’ due to the ruthless exploitation of our planet - is the displacement of God to the margins. This displacement of God from the center of our lives results in unlimited greed, corruption, irresponsibility, violence and so on. If we look back to the days of Jesus, socio-economic and political action was even more relevant then. Given his value system and popularity, Jesus could have easily led a campaign against corruption or even a campaign for food security, health for all, for peace amongst others. However, in addition to His ‘redeeming work’ Jesus led a different campaign – ‘back to the Father’ campaign. Why? It is true that we need socio-economic and political interventions to sort out the problems of today’s society. However, I believe that such interventions will remain as symptomatic treatments if we do not strike at the root cause and bring God back right into the hearts of individuals and societies (back to the Father). This is one of the reasons why Evangelisation is so important.
There is another reason too. I have listened to the stories of many young people. Some of them find their emotional settlement in human relationships, movies, novels, sports, work, food, travel, etc. These are, in a way, healthy means for emotional settlement. However, there are many youngsters who find emotional settlement in alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography and the like. From experience we know that these means ultimately destroy them. All of us are aware that we are not supposed to find emotional settlement in unhealthy means. Therefore, I would like to focus on the so called healthy emotional settlements. Of all the above mentioned means of emotional settlement, ‘human relationships’ is considered as one of the most important and common means.
Here I would like to bring two characters from the Gospel. The first one is the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus initiates a discussion with her and in the course of that discussion He talks about the ‘living water’. From her basic need for water, Jesus leads her to her deeper thirst. Finally she had to acknowledge that ‘human relationships’ could not really satisfy her deeper need for belongingness and love. Even her relationship with her current ‘husband’ was not helping her to quench her deeper thirst. Finally, in her interaction with Jesus, she discovers that only God can permanently satisfy her deeper needs.
Another character that I would like to bring to your notice is Zacchaeus. This man had everything; a good Job with the Roman Empire (in today’s context it is like being employed with an excellent Multinational Company); plenty of money; big house, servants and all other comforts. However, he doesn’t seem happy. When he meets Jesus he discovers that beyond all the above mentioned superficial needs, he had a deeper need. Only God could satisfy that need. When Zacchaeus and the Samaritan woman allowed God - Jesus - to enter the core of their lives, they experienced joy and peace that nothing until then had given them. Wasn’t that the beginning of salvation? It is in a way going back to the Father; to the first commandment - giving God the prime place, the first place in one’s life.
Most of us have seen how even the most loving married couples have to finally go to God to quench their deeper thirst. No husband, no wife can fill the ‘bottomless abyss’ that is within each and every one of us. Some people dare to call this ‘bottomless abyss’ the ‘God shaped hole’ in us, which can be filled only by God. This is probably the same ‘restlessness’ that St. Augustine talked about - “our hearts are restless until we rest in you O Lord”. Therefore, evangelisation is important to quench the deeper thirst of every human being as well as for the stability and progress of the society.
The Church always believed in Evangelisation. She inherited it from Jesus. In fact Jesus is THE Evangeliser. Church, being the extension of Jesus in this world, continues His mission. During the Second Vatican Council, Church rediscovered that she exists for evangelisation. On 8 December 1975, Pope Paul VI published his Apostolic Exhortation: ‘On Evangelisation in the Modern World, Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN)’. It was inspired by the Synod of Bishops of 1974 and is considered to be the “watershed” document for contemporary evangelisation. I would like to highlight some of the key points of this document that could be meditated upon, for each day of this week and even beyond.
  1. What is Evangelisation: “For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new”. (EN 18)
  2. The core of the Good News of Christ: It is “liberation from everything that oppresses man but which is above all liberation from sin and the Evil One”. It is “the joy of knowing God and being known by Him, of seeing Him, and of being given over to Him”. (EN 9)
  3. The importance of ‘proclamation by witness’: “Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one. Here we have an initial act of evangelization”. (EN 21)
  4. The importance of proclaiming Jesus: “There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed”. (EN 22)
  5. The importance of the Holy Spirit: “Techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones cannot replace the gentle action of the Spirit. The most perfect preparation of the evangelizer has no effect without the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the most convincing dialectic has no power over the heart of man. Without Him the most highly developed schemas resting on a sociological or psychological basis are quickly seen to be quite valueless”. (EN 75)
  6. The importance of authenticity: “Do you really believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you really preach what you live? The witness of life has become more than ever an essential condition for real effectiveness in preaching. Precisely because of this we are, to a certain extent, responsible for the progress of the Gospel that we proclaim”. (EN 76)
  7. The importance of love for those whom we evangelize: “The work of evangelization presupposes in the evangelizer an ever increasing love for those whom he is evangelizing... What is this love? It is much more than that of a teacher; it is the love of a father; and again, it is the love of a mother… A sign of love will be the concern to give the truth and to bring people into unity... Let us add some other signs of this love… Respect for their tempo and pace; no one has the right to force them excessively. Respect for their conscience and convictions, which are not to be treated in a harsh manner. Another sign of this love is concern not to wound the other person, especially if he or she is weak in faith... Yet another sign of love will be the effort to transmit to Christians not doubts and uncertainties born of an erudition poorly assimilated but certainties that are solid because they are anchored in the Word of God. The faithful need these certainties for their Christian life; they have a right to them, as children of God who abandon themselves entirely into His arms and to the exigencies of love”. (EN 79)
“Jesus Youth is a missionary movement at the service of the Church”. “Every Jesus Youth, a missionary”. These are some phrases at the heart of our movement. For those who believe in these words, how important is evangelisation! As a Jesus Youth we can be proud that we consider evangelisation as one of the important ‘pillars’ of our spirituality.
We are called to be in this world and minister to those around us. Being in the world we constantly come across aggressive campaigns that push people ruthlessly into ‘empty cisterns’ that aggravate their deeper thirst. Maybe some of them push people for their own financial gains. Maybe some of them do it sincerely because that’s all they know to do to help people satisfy their deeper needs. In this context, it is also important to remember that there is an invisible enemy, the ‘father of lies’ behind these aggressive campaigns to drive people away from God - the source of true life, the living water.
If we are called to be evangelisers, to lead others to God, we have to first learn to quench our own deeper thirst; we have to learn to find our emotional settlement in God, more than in the created things. We are fortunate to be part of a movement that urges us to be rooted in the six pillars of our spirituality, so that as evangelisers our ‘ministry’ will flow from our deep ‘inner life’. This is also one of the reasons why we give so much of emphasis on ‘formation’ in our movement.
Let me conclude with the following questions: How do we begin our day…? How do we end our day…? With TV/internet/mobile phone…? To be a fulfilled Jesus Youth; to be an effective Jesus Youth, we need to direct our ‘deeper thirst’ in such a way that we begin and end each day with the ‘living water’… the source that quenches our thirst forever and ever… May God bless you 

Fr. Mathew Abraham C.Ss.R
Animator, Jesus Youth International Team

Mar 22, 2012

Lenten Reflections '12: Week 5

All the believers were one in heart and soul. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32-33)

These words best reflect ‘Fellowship’ - the fourth pillar of the Jesus Youth movement which we know as: Christian life, a call to live the life of the Trinity in communion with one’s brothers and sisters in Christ through mutual support, encouragement and gentle correction.
In brief let me now explain the opening Scripture:
One heart - This expression denotes ‘tender union’. The believers felt alike, or were attached to the same things, and this preserved them from conflict.
One soul - This phrase also indicates ‘close and tender union’. No expression could denote it more strikingly than to say of friends who have one soul. The Hebrews spoke of two friends as being “one man”. Then, there can be no more powerful demonstration of union and love as when more than five thousand were suddenly drawn together that they had one soul. And this union they manifested in every possible way - in their conduct, in their prayers, and in their property. How different would have been the aspect of the Church if that union had continued to the present time!
The sharing heart of the early Church (vs 32) - All the believers were one in heart and soul. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had: Because of their unity, they regarded people more important than things.
They had all things in common: They recognised God's ownership of everything; it all belonged to God and His people.
All things in common: Was this an early form of communism? There is however a contrast between communism and koinonia which is used frequently in the New Testament. Communism says, 'What is yours is mine; I'll take it’. Koinonia says, 'What is mine is yours, I'll share it’.
The effective witness of the apostles (vs 33) - With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much grace was upon them all.
a. With great power: This is both the result and the root of the attitude in the previous verse. Acts 4:32 clearly says that they were putting God first, people second and material things a distant third.
b. Gave witness to the resurrection: Notice again the central place the resurrection of Jesus holds in the message of the first Christians. They preached a resurrected Jesus.
c. Great grace was upon them all: Grace is God's favour, His smile from heaven, and it was upon them all. God's favour was evident everywhere.
Let me sum up with a story:
Two brothers farmed together. They lived in separate houses on the family farm, but met each day in the fields to work together. One brother married and had a large family. The other lived alone. Still, they divided the harvest from the fields equally.
One night the single brother thought, “My brother is struggling to support a large family, but I get half of the harvest”. With love in his heart, he gathered a box of things he had purchased from his earnings - items he knew would help his brother’s family. He planned to slip over to his brother’s shed, unload the basket there, and never say a word about it.
That same night, the married brother thought, “My brother is alone. He doesn’t know the joys of a family”. Out of love he decided to take over a basket with a quilt and homemade bread and preserves to “warm” his brother’s house. He planned to leave the items on his porch and never say a word.
As the brothers quietly made their way towards each other’s homes, they bumped into one another. They were forced to admit to what they were doing and there in the darkness, they cried and embraced, each man realising that his greatest wealth was a brother who respected, loved and shared with him.
What can we take home from this?
  • The ways we relate to one another reveal something of the very nature of God - faithfulness, service, love, compassion…
  • A recognition that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ as Jesus Youth and we are to emulate the same in our cells, small groups, prayer groups, service teams and friendship circles.
  • Challenge ourselves to live as the Apostles did and help make Jesus Youth the ideal family of Christ.
While concluding I quote “It’s good to be a Christian and know it, but it is better to be a Christian and show it”!
Fr. Varghese Parakudiyil
Jesus Youth India Pastor 

Mar 14, 2012

Lenten Reflections '12: Week 4

Sacramental life
As we continue our Lenten Journey into the fourth week, we shall meditate on the next pillar of our Jesus Youth spirituality – Sacramental life. This translates not just into a simple reception of the Sacraments, but a deeper experiential living of the Sacramental grace.
A Sacrament literally means ‘that which is holy or sacred’. It carries a sense of ‘mystery’ as well. Sacraments help us to transcend our physical or human realm and enter the divine milieu. Thus becoming for us each time a healing, forgiving, strengthening and enriching experience. Sacraments are also signs of God’s positive love for us. Though God is invisible and intangible, the Sacraments make present, through visible and concrete signs, the presence of God among us. The worthy reception of the Sacraments in turn compels us to return this love.
The ‘Sacramental Economy’ is a life-time accompaniment of a loving Father. The seven Sacraments are so arranged that from birth to death, the loving and caring hand of God is with us. We who are born to the fallen human nature are transformed into the children of God in Baptism. The Eucharist becomes the food for our life. Sacrament of Reconciliation conjoins us with God and one another. Confirmation strengthens us and makes us courageous and committed Christians. Matrimony and Holy Orders bids us to become servants of charity. Sacrament of Anointing brings hope and healing to the sick. Though this is the reality and we all know this catechesis about the Sacraments, it is imperative for us during this Holy Season to go deeper into the personal aspects of Sacraments.
Let us look into our lives. How many years has it been since we received the Sacrament of Baptism? And how have we been growing in the grace of Baptism? How many times, after our First Communion, have we received Jesus sacramentally? What effects of sanctification are visible in our lives? How strong are we in our commitment to faith even after the reception of Confirmation? How many times have we asked the Lord’s forgiveness in Confession? How many days - if not hours - have we refrained from our confessed sins? What is the level of commitment to our promises of Matrimony or Ordination? How many of us daily recall those covenantal words? Where do we stand in our life of grace?
There is this incarnational aspect to the Sacraments. Jesus is the true Sacrament of God - visible sign of God’s love for us. He is not just a passive or static sign, rather a dynamic and life-giving sign. He carried and actualised what he symbolised. Likewise, each Sacrament is the living symbol of God’s loving presence and action. These are given to us because we are beings with feelings and emotions. So in the Sacraments we are able to experience God not only in a mere intellectual way, but empirically. In turn we, who receive the Sacraments, are to become Sacraments to others around us, just as Jesus is the Sacrament of the Father.
In our daily journey, two of the Sacraments are of more importance and practical application: Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. Lent itself has a penitential nature. The Lord's invitation during this Season is for us to cleanse ourselves of our iniquities. What better means than to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation for this goal? Receive the Sacrament with due preparation; take time to seriously think of our life, our commitment, our duties, etc. Then resolve to transform our life. We shall thus see, through the observance of this Lent, at least one aspect of our life that we know is not pleasing to God totally removed from us.
Again, participating in the Holy Eucharist as often as possible is an aim we can set. It is not enough that we just go for Mass, but we need to really prepare for it. The Eucharist must become our life. It is in sacrificing our own life that we actualise the Mass. Frequent communion (if possible daily communion) should be our priority.
Many of us may have been observing these Sacraments for some time now. But down the road the fervour dies down. It is time for us to return to the original love. Let this Lenten Season transform us through the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist.
Finally, it is important for us to take a few moments in the presence of God to see the actualisation of Sacraments in our daily life. How many wounds are there on our body - the broken body of Jesus? How much of our ‘self’ has been immolated to bring life to others? Do our life partners see and experience God in us? Do our children understand the love of God in and through us? Do our neighbours touch and hear God in us? Do the multitudes flock to us as they did to Jesus, to hear God, see God, touch God, and experience God? If this happens, then our Sacramental life is real and active.
Wishing you all a fruitful Sacramental life, not just during this Lent, but all through your life.
Fr. Thomas Tharayil

Mar 12, 2012

One Night for Life

March 25th is declared as the World Prolife Day as the church celebrates this day as the day when Jesus was conceived by Mother Mary (9 months before Dec 25th - birth day of Infant Jesus), the day of Annunciation. So this day is celebrated and prayed over for all the Unborn Babies in the world .

The Jesus Youth of Bangalore is Celebrating the Saturday Night Vigil on 24th March 9.45pm to 25th March at 5am as a Pro-Life Night Vigil where we Rejoice, Adore, Worship our good Unborn Baby Jesus and also listen to inspiring session on Mother Mary`s Holiness and Womb a Tabernacle by a speaker from Human Life of Goa. We also pray for all the Unborn Babies in the world .

This is the time where we can sacrifice our one night sleep praying for the unborn babies around the world so that our Good Unborn Baby  Jesus will hear our cries and save many unborn around the world who are under the verge of abortion .

Please do pray for the success of this event in your daily prayers and be sure to come and join us in prayers.

Click on the image for enlarged view

Mar 11, 2012

Prolife Resource Training Program

Click on the image for enlarged view.

Mar 7, 2012

Passionately Yours........

Click on the image for enlarged view.

Mar 6, 2012

Lenten Reflection 2012 - Week 3

The treasure in the Word of God 
We, the followers of a ‘joyful spirituality’ are reflecting on the second pillar of our dear movement in this third week of Lent. The ‘Word of God’ is the point of our reflection. What is the Word of God? Well, a picture of the Bible comes readily to our minds. Reading and learning the Word of God is one of the dearest desires of every JY (I make sense, right?). Holy Spirit is the interpreter of the Sacred Scripture. So let us pause and pray for the assistance of the Holy Spirit as we begin this reflection on the Word of God.
We are all born with a heart desiring for God. This desire could be addressed by human reason. But there is a higher, and of course, a better order for quenching this thirst. That higher order is the order of Divine Revelation. God himself reveals to us. The course of this revelation is the Salvation history which starts at the creation and graduates in the incarnation. This is what we call the Word of God. Thus Christ is the unique Word of God. Christ is the fullness of God’s revelation of Himself. “All the Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ…”
This revelation has a human body and a human language; so that we may understand it. The body of this revelation is preserved in the Holy Eucharist and the language in the Sacred Scripture. Sacred Scripture is, again, preserved in sacred traditions of the Church and in the sacred written Scripture, i.e., the Bible. Our reflection here is on this written sacred Scripture of the Divine revelation.
The Word of God is essentially different from our words. It is an event. It is the “event of creation and the event of what God is doing and saying in Israel and finally the event of what God is saying and doing in Jesus.”An event is not a report, but an actual unfolding of happenings - the event of God speaking to us and of us responding to this speaking God. Jeremy Driscoll explains this very beautifully. “The (Bible) is rather like the notes of a musical score. The score is not the music. But the score lets the music sound. When from the score of the biblical book the words are proclaimed in the midst of a believing assembly, the music of God’s events sounds forth in the midst of that assembly!”So a believing assembly is very necessary to listen and respond to the Word of God.
This believing assembly in its truest form is the liturgical assembly. “Scripture is… about liturgy and liturgy is about scripture.” The books of the Bible were primarily composed for the sake of the liturgical celebration of the early Christians. Thus the liturgical celebrations were enriched by remembering the words of Jesus (and later that of Apostles and their successors); and these remembrance of the words beautified the liturgy. So the Word of God cannot be separated from liturgical celebration. Liturgy is the natural habitat for the Bible. This Lenten season needs to help us desire the Word of God in the liturgy of the Church, which is primarily the Holy Eucharist, then the other Sacraments, liturgy of the hours, and other prayers of the Church. Are you zealous and active in the liturgy?
Therefore Word of God is more of listening and responding rather than of reading and understanding. This listening and responding can be done at different occasions. It could be private with the family, within prayer groups, with a parish community, and so on. The important aspect is the attitude of listening and responding. It should not become reading and understanding as in the case of school text books or books of entertainment. “Faith comes by hearing” (Rom 10:17, refer also Lk 4:21, Rom 10:17, Gal 3:2, Rev 1:3). This does not mean that you should not read, but listen to somebody else reading. No! It is about the attitude while reading and hearing. You need to listen. Listen to the person of Christ, the eternal Word of the Father. Do you listen to Christ in the Word of God?
Now, you need to respond. How and where? The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us two modes of this ‘how’ (CCC 115-117). It is by taking the literal and spiritual sense of the listened passage of the Bible. Literal interpretation means the actual meaning of the words, and spiritual sense means gaining a profound and deeper meaning (allegorical, moral and anagogical) of the listened word of God. Where? In the Church! It is the Church that responds to the spoken Word of God. Church is the bride awaiting the murmurings of her Beloved. Do you have the heart of the bride? (or are you a scientist, etymologist, etc?) Please keep your brains a while away and keep your heart closest possible to the Word of God.
Now let’s examine our attitude to the Word of God. Origen (a third century scholar) speaks: “You who are accustomed to take part in divine mysteries know, when you receive the body of the Lord, how you protect if with all caution and veneration lest any small part fall from it, lest anything of the consecrated gift be lost. For you believe, and correctly, that you are answerable if anything fall from there by neglect. But if you are so careful to preserve His Body, and rightly so, how do you think that there is less guilt to have neglected God’s word that to have neglected His body?” St. Augustine called the Scripture as “Audible Sacrament (Sacramentum audible). Are you listening to the Word of God with a sense of the Sacred?
Thus, in short, we need to read the Bible from the heart of the Church. The moment we take the Word of God, remember we are in the communion of saints. We are holding a treasure, the person of Christ, in the legacy of the Saints and Fathers of the Church who remembered the words of Christ, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit working through the Church’s magisterium.
May this Great Lent help all of us to make our lives, families, prayer groups, movement, parishes… a heart of the Church by listening and responding to the Word of God.
Fr. Vinod Madathiparambil
Jesus Youth USA Pastor 

Mar 5, 2012

Retreat @ St John's College of Nursing

A retreat for the students of St. John’s College of Nursing was conducted from 16th to 18th of February. Around 700 students of the College attended this retreat. The main resources were Fr Varghese, Dony Peter, Sanjay Joseph, Alex Njavally and Diana Shibu. Fr Joy, Fr Tomy and Fr Francis were also present to help with spiritual guidance, adoration and celebrating Holy Mass. There were sessions on the Jesus Youth Movement and Prolife. Confession was arranged for all the participants on the second day. Gifted counselors were present on all three days for counseling those in need. After the anointing session on the last day, the music ministry led the participants into an hour of music show and sharing. There were times of happiness and struggle, but Holy Spirit was leading us throughout the retreat.