Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blessed be the Peacemakers

Blessed be you who are vented upon by those you wish to reconcile to each other...

Blessed be you who fall out of favour in the stand for truth and peace...

Blessed be you who are cursed and curried as cowards and traitors for not partaking in an unjust cause...

Blessed be you when you choose silence over words, when words would uphold your right but destroy fragile peace...

Blessed be you when you walk in troubled times but let not the chaos seep into your souls...

Blessed be you when you choose unjust peace over a just war...

Blessed be you when isolation becomes your companion and great sacrifice is asked of you to still troubled waters...

For the Son of Man came to reconcile the warring children to their Father, and received a friend's betrayal, a lonely cross, an outlaw's death and a borrowed grave.

But there is still a promise...

Rejoice and be glad for you will be called Sons of God (Matt 5:9)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Name your Master(s)

God, sometimes places us in quaint places where were are forced to confront the dark areas of our soul. A la Johari's Window but it is in these dark places where our secret sin festers and bondage remains hidden. We find ourselves, committed Catholics, truly seeking the Kingdom of God, when we come face to face with the Master. Then the old drama of the Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-31) plays out...

"Lord, what must I do to love you more each day"
The Master will point at the one treasure of your soul and ask you to give it up.
"You cannot serve two master!"
                                                    - Matt 6:24
It is impossible to be truly free without complete detachment and our attachments are undoubtedly to our treasures. Secret treasures like ambition, pet idiosyncrasies and even persons or possessions will eat you from within like a slow undetected cancer. You will be much anxious to be rid of it but your lust for it will be too strong...

Gollum's Bane."My... preciousssss"

This is when we need a Saviour. I think most of us would know that mammon has a great sway over our souls but do you know the masks that mammon wears.

Ambition. It may or may not have anything to do with the paycheck but the driving desire to rise, outperform, perfect can effectively cancel out the light of God's grace. God is our Provider and we are always in the position of the receiver. We have not done or ever will do anything without Him. 

Even the slightest degree of ambition is an indication of self-desire and aspiration apart from what God has ordained for us. When God made Adam, the garden was ready for him. Adam served God by tending to the plants and animals. He had not taken the garden as tithe unto himself and tried to bring forth his own by the sweat of his brow.Whether the garden flowered or wilted, it was the Almighty Father who provided for all his needs. Our focus at all times is to serve God through our work, our love, our service and yes, even through our devotion.

My work has been a great blessing in this space. I came to realise that I harboured great dreams of might and highness deep in the corners of my soul only when I was given a role which fired my inner Balrog. I was severely disturbed. The only way I could be free of fear of man and listen to my Christian conscience is to reject all ambitions for myself.

I call to God, the Most High,
to God, who supplies my every need.
                                            - Psalm 57:2 

Was it a struggle? Oh yes! For days I fought with myself, checked my every thought, appealed to all the saints and angels to intercede for me. Through difficulties and humiliations at my job, I gradually surrendered, bit by bit. 
Old demons, die hard.

So, do I still struggle with pride? Yes. The enemy, like a roaring lion is ever waiting for any unguarded moment. But for every fight that leaves me tired and disheartened, there is a peace that surpassed all understanding, there is a liberation that makes you skip like calves let out of a stall (Mal 4:2)

And when you are ready to give up; remember...

"When the storms to temptation burst upon you, when you see yourself driven upon the rocks of tribulation, look at the star, call upon Mary. When swallowed by pride or ambition, or hatred, or jealousy, look at the star, call upon Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of your soul, look at the star, call upon Mary."                                       
                                                            - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'll praise you in this storm

One of the most difficult aspects of our faith, is to keep trusting; when things go wrong and times get rough. 

I'm still learning...and falling. But I know his hand will raise me up again.

How else can I pray then, if not to cry to Abba Father, "help me, Lord!"

Though the fig tree does not bud 

and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen 
and no cattle in the stalls, 

yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 

The Sovereign LORD is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, 
he enables me to go on the heights.

                                  - Habakkuk 3:17-19 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Intercessors of the Lamb

I write, being recently inspired by our Pope's general audience address on Prayer. Our beloved Pope touches on many things in his address but I would like to focus on one part which is closest to my heart- the efficacy of Intercession. 

He starts with the Old Testament. Sodom and Gomorrah indulged in practices so disgusting to the Lord, that he was forced to raise his hand against it in perfect justice and pay those citizens the wages of sin, death. Total annihilation! The last time God did something like that was during the Great Flood. Even then, He repented and swore never to destroy earth because of man's sinfulness. Yet here He was again, speaking of destroying the citizens and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. I can not imagine the filth of those nations to induce God to pour out his wrath in such a measure upon them!

But suddenly, God revealed another side of his nature- his infinite Mercy. God's perfect justice meets his perfect mercy when a sinner repents, changes heart and chooses righteousness. God will not punish the innocent with the wicked but his divine justice seeks a goodness to base his mercy on. He needed one, just one righteous man to implore mercy for behalf of the unrighteous.

It is never that a sinner is not allowed to plead his own case, but it is that he cannot. Sin blinds the sinner (Gen 19:11). He does not see his own guilt or does not consider his doings as evil, and therefore is unable to repent. Into this gap, Abraham, who knew most closely the heart of God, stepped in. This is the place where the unforgettable dialogue between man and God takes place.

Abraham asks, if righteous God would destroy the city if 50 innocent men were living in it. God relents on the plea of a righteous man. "I will spare... I will not destroy... I will not do it". He forgives the entire guilty population for 50 innocents! As Abraham continues to plead with God and the number dips, 45...40...30...and finally 10; the greater the mercy of God grows.

This is the power of intercession. Abraham, our father in the faith, set an example for intercessors of all time. To not only understand in a deeply intimate way the intention of God to save suffering mankind but also to lend our voices and hearts to His desire.

If the sinner cannot ask for mercy, then the good man must ask on his behalf.
"To pray for those who are in mortal sin is the best kind of alms giving. For the love of God always remembers such souls when you pray."
           St. Teresa of Avila