Sunday, December 19, 2010

God Speaks

You might have read my last post – ‘Life is..’  Now let me take you behind the scenes of that post.  I have been thinking about writing that post for a long time. It was slowly taking shape.  But me being the procrastinating me, I just kept on delaying it. Finally on 14th Nov, a Sunday morning, before going to the church I had made up my mind about what to write and also to publish the same that very day.  It was just another Sunday Mass I was going to attend, but surprise awaited me.

While going for every Mass I try and say a small prayer, ‘Lord, speak to me through this Holy Eucharist.’ And on that day He spoke pretty clearly. On the way I was preoccupied about what to write in the next post. I had decided that I would write about what life is, about priorities and also mention the verse ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else would be added unto it.’  I went inside the Church waiting for the celebration to begin. The priest entered and guess what were his first few words. He asked us all a question – ‘What is Life?’ On any other day it would have been an ordinary introduction, but that day I was surprised to hear that. This was the same thing I was going to write about! It was as if God was confirming what was going in my mind. That was not all. As the Mass progressed we reached the Gospel acclamation part. And guess what the Choir sang – ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God....’ The very same verse i was about to mention!! I was elated, ecstatic!!! Couldn’t stop smiling and singing along. God spoke so precisely, so to-the-point to me during that Mass. I couldn’t have got a better confirmation from Him.

I come across many people who question God’s existence, many who think praying is like talking to a brick wall, many who feel God doesn’t speak and even faithful ones who think God has stopped talking! I don’t have answers to all their questions, but one thing I’m sure of is that our God speaks.

All though the Holy Scripture we can see God speaking. He spoke through the clouds, through the burning bush, through the wind, through visions, through dreams, through messengers, through prophets and angels. Even today He speaks. He speaks through people we meet, through nature, through the things we see, through priests, through the Holy Eucharist, through the Holy Scriptures. But are we listening?

I remember a quote written on a T-shirt I bought from one of the Youth conferences some years back. It read – ‘To listen to God’s voice, turn down the world’s volume.’ It’s so true. We are so surrounded with the clanging and clatter of our fast paced lives full of concerns, worries, tension, target, pressure, commitments, aspirations on one side and fun, frolic, pleasure, blissful entertainment, enjoyment on the other side that we are unable to hear our Almighty God’s gentle, still small voice which speaks straight to our heart. Let’s try, especially in this season of Advent, to tune ourselves to listen to His voice. And ‘If you listen to God’s voice, do not harden your heart.’ (Heb 3:8)

God is always speaking. Lets listen to Our Father.




God Bless!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Life is....

October 2005 - my final year at engineering college. Dilemma was my constant state of being. Just like almost everyone in the whole world I was also grappling with the same question – ‘What next?’

 I had a good job offer on one hand, while on the other was the option to do MBA.  But I knew deep down inside that I wanted to do something else. I wanted to be a full time volunteer for a youth ministry for a year. To be able to work with the Lord, for the Lord; to be able to know Him better and to experience Him in a closer, deeper way; to grow in His Love and share it with others. This desire had been in me for quite some time, but I was confused about what to do. So many questions were running through my head. How do I tell it to Mom? Will she allow? What about my future? How will my resumé look with a one year gap? Will I get a job later? Who will take care of the family? Etc etc  etc.... So many of them!!!  I was looking for answers. Then I faintly remembered one verse in the Bible. I read it some time ago, but I didn’t have any idea where in the Bible it was. It said, ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else shall be added unto you.’ This verse gave me hope.  But I was still not sure.  Weeks and months passed by and soon it was high time I decided what to do. Finally I thought of asking God for an opinion. One Saturday evening I decided to attend Mass, Confess and then spend some time in prayer asking God –‘What next?’ To my surprise He answered me before I could ask! It was during the confession. The priest was speaking to me after hearing me out. And then as a penance he asked me to go to my hostel room, open the Bible and read Gospel according to St Matthew, Chapter 6, Verse 33. And guess what it said? ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else shall be added unto you.’!!! This was the very same verse which has been in my mind for the last few weeks. I couldn’t get a clearer answer. I took the blind leap of faith and decided to for the volunteership. There were lot of obstacles, but God made sure that everything fell in place and I had the best year of my life. I will cherish that one year all through my life. That year made me understand what life is.

But why am I sharing all this with you now after 5 yrs?? Well, that’s because this verse boomeranged into me some days ago. After coming here in Hyderabad and after the initial phase of chaos, I had decided that every morning before going to work, I’ll spend at least half an hour in my personal time with the Lord. I’m not that good with sticking to decisions, but this one I really wanted to continue. It was some time last week I had some extra work to be done at office, some important mails to be sent and so I wanted to leave pretty early. I had to cut down something in order to leave early and the most convenient one was the prayer time. I was convincing myself saying that I would do it in the night (which I was 100% sure would not happen). But thats when I heard this verse speaking to me again. ‘What are my priorities!!’, I thought.  And then I made up my mind and sat down to spend my time with my Lord. I reached office pretty much on time and that day everything went better than planned, better than what would have happened otherwise. That was another strong way in which God told me what my priorities should be.

Many a times in life we get caught up doing all the mundane routine activities that we miss the essence of Life, we give importance to so many things that at the end we forget what is most important, we run behind so many other things which at the end of it doesn’t really matter.

This is one video which made me think about what my life is?

video


What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet lose his own soul? (Mk8:36)

Go. Get a life!

God Bless!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thank You Therapy

Well it’s been almost five months since I started working and things have been going good for me. Learning a lot of things, doing a lot of stuff..... But the week before last was a bit too taxing. Lot of work, coming back late, too much of pressure....... But something that I learnt a few years ago helped me sail through this. I call it the Thank You Therapy!

It was during my days as a fulltime volunteer. In one of our gatherings in Delhi, we celebrated a very unconventional Holy Mass. During the sermon, the priest gave us each a cup of black tea and asked us to drink it. I was almost about to gulp the whole cup down when he asked us to drink it slowly and as we took each sip, remember and thank the people who made sure the cup reached our hands: right from the person who sowed the plant, to the person who plucked the leaves, the people who processed it, the ones who packed marketed transported and sold it, the person who bought it and prepared it, the one who served it to us! I was stunned! I never realised how something as simple as a cup of tea had so many people behind it making sure it reaches me! That was the best cup of tea I ever had!! And more than anything, that experience taught me to be thankful!

That experience slowly evolved into the Thank You Therapy which helped me in many situations. One particular incident was when I was in Kolkata. I was standing in a queue to reserve my train ticket at the station reservation counter. As is the case always, my queue seemed to move at the slowest pace. People in my queue were getting very irritated at the staff sitting at the counter. Slowly they started shouting and abusing. All this was getting onto my nerves as well. I was also getting irritated. But then I was reminded about the Thank You Therapy. So instead of loosing my temper or becoming obnoxious I started thanking! I thanked God for the people who built the reservation centre, for the AC, for the person sitting on the computer, for the one who taught him how to use it, for Internet, for the infrastructure which made ticket reservation possible, for the trains, for the people who made the train coaches, the ones who laid the track, the drivers who drove the trains, for all the people who worked hard so that we could have a comfortable journey......... It went on and on and on. And before I knew anything I was at the counter getting my ticket booked. Instead of becoming irritated, angry and agitated I was happy and content! While leaving the counter I told the staff ‘Thank You.’ He gave me a very puzzled look. I don’t think he was used to it.

The Thank You Therapy always works. Look at the life of St Paul. He went through such painful experiences in life, was tortured and chastised so many times, spent days in solitude, was rejected by people around him, was disappointed by the conduct of the people who first followed him. But even after all that he says, ‘Be thankful in all circumstances.’ (1Thessalonians 5:18) I’m sure he believed in the power of the Thank You Therapy.

So the next time you are going through a tough time at office/college/family, next time work or people around you make you loose your cool, the next time situations or surroundings irritate you don’t let them get on your nerves. Instead just pause and start thanking God. Thank Him for the things you have rather than feel sorry for the ones that you don’t, for the goodness of the people around you rather than crib about their faults, for all the comforts He has given you rather than complain about the constraints you face.

Trust me the Thank You Therapy will help you change from


                                                                  
                                                     TO




Start thanking and you will have a difficulty stopping!



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude


I moved to Hyderabad in May and the past few months have been pretty happening. New job, new friends , new places.....Have started earning for the first time in my life, moved into a new house with two of my friends, have begun trying my hands in cooking etc etc etc. So many things, so fast!! And in midst of all this it took me a while to realise that I was slowly turning into the same thankless guy I used to be. I became so engrossed with my own life that I forgot to thank one very important person – my Father in Heaven.

Well thats how I was. I never used to value what I had much. Till one day when a very small interaction with a stranger changed my whole perspective.

It was during my final year at engineering college. One evening I was returning from College to the Hostel which was about 2 Kms away. I was tired and had lots of extra baggage – record sheets, Mini drafter, bag etc etc. So I decided to take the bus.  After a long wait the bus came, but it was crowded. I decided to get in anyways. While struggling to find a place to stand, I unknowingly stamped the person sitting there twice or thrice. The guy got very irritated and shouted at me, but after some time made some space for me to sit. He sensed that I was an engineering student and as soon as I sat he said, “You people are big shots. You can do anything you want. Even stamp at people like us.” I sheepishly said sorry, but he went on to say that he also aspired to be an engineer, but because of financial constraints was not able to pursue his studies. He ended up working as a bus cleaner. Before I could say much, my stop came and I had to get down. That evening standing in front of my hostel gate, for the first time in four years, I thanked God for giving me an opportunity to study in a good college, for being where many others couldn’t, for giving me so many things I always took for granted. Those five minutes in the bus taught me a lesson for a lifetime. Be thankful always. (1Thes5:18)

And lately God has been reminding me about this lesson once again. So, after many days of running around, I finally sat down in my room, spent some time alone thanking God for everything He has been giving me recently. Thanked Him for my job, my first salary, the place I’m posted at, my friends, my new house, my colleagues......... It went on for some time and at the end of it I felt so good, so happy, so content, so blessed, so thankful for everything!

In Psalm 50, titled ‘True Worship’, The Lord says, “I do not need bulls from your farms or goat from your flocks. Let thanksgiving be your sacrifice to God.”



So, did you thank Him today?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Heart's Desire

It’s been long since I blogged. The last one and a half month was very eventful - my last days in college, the sorrow of leaving my friends and the campus, the excitement of joining my first job soon and the joy of spending some memorable days with family, which included celebrating my 25th birthday with them. In this time span I travelled from Chennai to Coimbatore to Ladakh to Delhi to Coimbatore to Mumbai to Hyderabad. Phew!!! And throughout the journey and the last month and half I had an amazing feeling, a well known realisation following me each day, an assurance which said – I am not alone!!

One of my friend’s favourite bible verse is Matthew 7:7 - "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  This verse became so real for me in the last couple of months. The Lord took care of everything, from my slightest desires to my greatest prayers. No matter how stupid or trivial it was, the Lord made sure that it was fulfilled. I have a long list, let me share a few.

Ever since I can remember, my wish was to see snow. Being in India I never thought I would ever get to see snow. In the first week of April I along with 9 other friends of mine went to Ladakh for a weeklong trip. I knew the place was cold and all, but in the month of April I didn’t expect to see snow. But even before I could reach the place, Lord granted this wish of mine. On the flight from Delhi to Leh I saw snow! Our plane flew right above the snow capped Himalayas. This was the first time I was seeing snow ever in my life!! I went crazy at the sight of pure white snow glistening in the bright sunlight. I couldn’t thank God enough.


But as is with any other human, I too was not satisfied with what I got. So, now the next wish was that I wanted to touch, feel and play with the snow. And guess what? God granted me that wish as well and that too the very next day! We went on a tour around Leh and we came across a stream that was frozen. I couldn’t control myself from running and touching the snow and then in no time we started making snow balls and throwing at each other. I was so so so so excited and happy. Praise God!


But then that was not all. Now I demanded more. I asked and desired to see snow fall. And, you guessed it right, the Lord granted this wish of mine as well!! Two days later while travelling along the highest motorable road in the world it started snowing!!!! I have had enough!! This time the excitement was beyond my control so much so that even temperatures of – 10°C didn’t stop me from going out and experiencing the fragile, beautiful snowflakes falling on me!! I was amazed at how God would answer all my wishes and fulfil my heart’s desire. Praise God!



This was not the end. I reached back home with lot of plans to spend a lot of time with my family after staying nearly 8 yrs away from them. But I was in for a big shock. Two days after I reach home I get a call from my employer asking me to join in 5 days time. I was shattered, felt really very sad. I so desperately wanted to spend some time at home, but was helpless. Can’t explain how bad I felt. I had no other option but to accept the fact and start packing. But I always used to pray, asking some more time with my family. I was supposed to leave on a Sunday. The Saturday before that, I went for Mass with my mom and nephew in the evening. During the adoration I just offered everything to Jesus including my desire to stay at home longer. Well, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when soon after the adoration, I got a call informing me that my joining date has been postponed by one week! So I was able to stay one more week at home and had a great time with my family. J Praise God!!

On 3rd May I was supposed to join Mumbai office. I booked my flight to reach there by 2nd night. They had booked an accommodation for me in a guest house. I had another desire, deep in my heart, that I may be able to go for Mass on the day of joining. But I didn’t know anything about the place where I was supposed to stay and would in no way have found a Church nearby, found the Mass timing and made it for it in the morning. And the Lord worked here as well through an absolutely unpredictable way. My flight to Mumbai got delayed a lot and I reached there around midnight. I decided to stay at one of my friend’s place as it would be too late to go to the guest house.  And guess what, there was a Church very close to his house and not only do I get to attend Mass in the morning of my first day at my first job, I also get to sit before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for some time. He always gives more than what we ask for. Praise God!!

I know the list is growing pretty long, but I can’t stop without mentioning this last incident. Since I’m posted in Hyderabad I reached here on 9th May evening (Sunday). My organization provided me accommodation for 5 days within which I had to find a place to stay. Yesterday was the third day and when I got up, I had just one prayer – ‘Lord, please help me find a place to stay by the end of the day.’ I knew I was asking for too much, but I was desperate. I have been trying to find a house for the last 3 days in vain, so the chance of finding it in a day was very bleak. But suddenly in the morning, Lord reminded me of one of my old classmates who is working here. By afternoon I contact him, by evening he comes to meet me and by night I get a place to stay!!!! Woah!! Praise God!!!

Ask and you shall receive. That’s the promise He gave us and He keeps it well. Through all these experiences, I’m not asking you to keep going to Him with a long list of demands as if he was a shopkeeper. All I want to show and say is that build a relation with Him in which you can ask Him anything, tell him anything without any hesitations. Whom do we approach in times of need? Do we go to a total stranger and ask him to help us? No. We go to someone whom we know, who we are sure will help us, who we have a strong relation with.  That’s what it’s all about. Getting to know Him closer and letting Him work in your life. Build a relationship with Jesus and tell Him everything you need, even the smallest, minutest, silliest desires you have. He surely would love to hear from you. No wonder Jesus said, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John16:24)


In these last few months I have travelled thousands of miles, met and parted with many close ones, went from one stage of my life to another and through all these times there was this one person who was always with me – My Lord and My God. He made sure that the smallest of my heart’s desires didn’t go unanswered. Even before I could ask, He fulfilled my wishes in ways which just left me stunned and amazed at how much He loves me, how much He cares for me that even the wishes that don’t matter much to me, matters so much to Him.

Let Him know your heart’s desire and He will soon become your heart’s desire.

God Bless!!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Gaze


This Sunday was Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday. The gospel reading narrated the Passion of Christ from the last Supper to His body being laid in the tomb. As I was listening to the narration about the day that changed our lives forever,  I heard so many names – Jesus, Pilate, Judas, Caiaphas, Simeon, daughters of Jerusalem, Herod......  But the name struck me the most was Peter; the incident that shook me up was him denying Jesus three times, the moment that touched me the most was the gaze that Jesus gave Peter after his denial.





During The Last Supper, Peter was so confident about his commitment to the Lord and so unaware of what was going to happen that he boldly proclaimed that He would be with Jesus all through and won’t leave Him at all even if it meant prison or death. Peter never would have imagined what unfolded in the next few hours. Jesus, his master, who performed so many miracles, who healed the deaf, the lame, the dumb, the blind, the leper, who calmed storms, who walked on water, who multiplied bread, who brought back dead from life, whom everyone welcome with songs of Joy and shouts of Hosanna just a few days ago, whose proud disciple he was; the same Jesus was standing in front of an angry crowd who was jeering at Him, spitting on Him, slapping and beating Him and Jesus who had the power and authority over everything was standing helpless. Peter was shattered seeing all this and that’s when people surround him and accuse him of being a follower of Jesus. He denies Jesus. Three times. “And the Lord turned around and looked at Peter.” (Luke 22:61) Jesus gazed at Peter, looked straight into his eyes.

Jesus’ gaze didn’t mean – ‘See, I told you so. How could you do this to me? You of all the people! What a wretched person you are.’ It was not a gaze which had anger, contempt, hatred, disgust, disappointment in it. It was a gaze full of love. It was a gaze which meant – ‘I love you. I love you just as you are; in your weaknesses, in your shortcomings, in your failures, in your fear, in your denial. I love you and I am going through all this for my love for you, so that we could be together in eternity. I know you have denied me, but I don’t hold it against you. What matters to me is your love for me, is that you come back to me.’  And that gaze, I believe, changed Peter’s life. He came back to Jesus, spent the rest of his life for Him and died the way His master died – crucified, but upside down.

I can so relate to Peter, at least the denial part. I believe many of us can. So many times we decide to be all for Jesus, to do whatever God wants us to do, to obey Him, to be good but very soon we betray Him, we deny Him, we disobey him in ways big and small. In so many situations we forget what God desires of us and do just what we desire. In moments of temptation we don’t bother about how God longs that we choose to be with Him, but instead we just give into our weaknesses. So many times we fail to stand up for our relationship with our Father. But at the end of all this, what awaits us is the same gaze full of love, the gaze that desires that we come back to Him, the gaze that says – ‘I know. I understand. I forgive.’, the reassuring gaze that strongly invites us saying ‘Come, follow me.’  


Let’s spend these days gazing at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Bible. Let’s gaze at the face of the crucified Lord, who died and rose again, all for His love for us. Let’s look into His eyes and find the meaning of our lives. Look straight in His eyes and your life will never be the same again.

Let’s also look at others with the same loving, forgiving gaze when they wrong us, hurt us, do or say bad things about us, betray us. Your one gaze can change other’s life as well. It’s difficult but we are called to do exactly that - to love and forgive, the way Jesus did.


O Lord, who am I, that your eyes that see my sin, would look on me with love and watch me rise again! Thank you so much for loving me.

God loves you!

God Bless!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mercy Quotient




In the past two years of my life here in Chennai, I have come across many who put others before themselves, who go out of their way to help others, who can never say ‘No’ to any request. I really admire them especially because I lie on the other extreme end. I am someone whose default answer to any request for help is “NO.” In some cases I might say “I will try”, but that’s also effectively a “NO”. And in some other cases I will postpone it which is even worse than a “NO”. For me, my priorities and plans are most important. Rest everything comes after that. But during the last few days, the Lord has been trying to change me. And today morning, while praying, He taught me about the Mercy Quotient (MQ). Will let you know what it is, but before that I want to share how it all began.

Well, it all started on the night of 13th March, during the monthly Night Vigil prayer conducted by Jesus Youth in Chennai. One of my friends, who was leading the Praise and Worship asked us all two very simple questions to think about and then share. 
  1. Think about an instance in which God has shown mercy on you.
  2. Think about an instance in which you have shown mercy on others.



The first question was easy and I had so many experiences to share, but the second question left me searching for an answer. I couldn’t think of a single incident in which I showed mercy on others. I was completely blank. And that is when it hit me so hard. All through the past few years, I have been receiving God’s loving mercy immensely, but I never shared it with anyone. I just kept it to myself. I was never bothered to go out of the way and help someone or sacrifice my happiness and make someone else happy or take that little bit of effort to make somebody’s day. It was always me and my comfort zone. But that night God showed me what to do.

After the midnight Mass, I rushed to the priest and confessed and no sooner did I repent was I filled with a desire to help, to share God’s mercy. And as it is with God, who always knows my slightest desires and fulfils it, He did it this time too. After the Hole Mass, my friend Praveen and I were coming back to the hostel at around 2 o’ Clock in the night. On the way back through a deserted road, we met a guy whose bike ran out of fuel and there was no petrol bunk anywhere nearby. Even we didn’t have enough fuel to share with him. Had it been the usual me, I would have suspected that guy to be a thug, refused to help him and just walked away. But this time we took a little bit of effort and made sure he reached were he wanted to go. Before we reached hostel we got a chance to help one more person. We were happy that God gave us a chance to help two persons. So the count stood at 2. But at that time, it was almost 3 am, we needed the watchman’s help to enter the hostel. And thankfully he helped. So Praveen said that, the net count is now 2-1 = 1. We were both very happy that at the end of the day we were able to help someone out. That night I hit the bed with a smile on my face and so much of peace in my heart.

And that’s how the Mercy Quotient came into being. This is what MQ is:

MQ = (Number of times you have helped someone) – (Number of times someone else has helped you)

For us that night it was, MQ = 2 – 1 = 1.

MQ can be calculated each day. And higher the MQ the better. The objective is to keep your MQ positive and do so by helping as many people as possible.

Caution: Don’t fall into the trap of 
  • Helping others just for the sake of helping without them actually needing it. 
  • Denying others who offer to help you, so that your MQ would be positive.  
  • Becoming complacent or proud once your MQ is constantly high



Remember, the entire focus of MQ is to be able to share God’s mercy, to go that extra mile to put a smile on someone’s face. It might be difficult to change all of a sudden. Trust me on this. But it will work if you are determined. For the past few days I have been consciously trying to improve my MQ by helping others. And it’s working. If you can’t do it on your own, ask the Holy Spirit to help you out. He surely will help you lend a helping hand.


And as Mother Teresa would say, “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.” Let’s not help or give or serve out of compulsion, grumbling all the time; let’s do it with love. Sometimes it might be painful, but then it is nothing compared to the pain that Christ went through for each of us, so that we could receive God’s mercy.

So spread the Mercy of God and increase your Mercy Quotient every day. It might sound like a very simple thing, but it will surely change the way you look at life.



“Be merciful just as your heavenly Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)


God Bless!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm not alone



Last month, in our college, we had a personal growth workshop and I took part in it. In the first session we were asked to introduce ourselves and give a brief description about who we were. The very first line that came into my mind about myself was – ‘I am a nomad. A wanderer.’ coz all my life I have been moving from one place to another. From Bihar to Jharkhand to Coimbatore, from Kerala to Kolkata, from Shillong to Chennai...... and within a month I will be moving out of Chennai to don’t know where. But no matter where I went, no matter how unfamiliar the place, food, culture may be, no matter if I didn’t have a single friend or relative, I never felt alone. Coz I knew the loving God was with me wherever I went. He was, is and will be the only one who would be with me always no matter what. No wonder the psalmist says:
 “You are all round me on every side; you protect me with your power.
Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I get away from your presence?
Even if I went up to heaven you would be there; if I lay in the world of the dead you would be there.
If I flew beyond the east or lived in the farthest place in the west, you would be there to lead me, you would be there to help me.” (Psalm139:5-10).
The love of our God never leaves us.

But I was not born with this attitude. Through most of my life I felt just the other way round. I would be one of those guys who would sing ‘I am so lonely’ and would really mean every word. I suffered from the ‘Why me?’ syndrome. I spent days, months and years asking – ‘God, Why me? Why do I have to go through all these problems? Why does all this happen to me? Why was I born in this family?’ There were nights I spent crying all by myself, there were times when I wouldn’t talk with anyone in my school for as long as a week, there were days when I felt I had no friend – no one to speak to, no one to share my feelings with.  All this, while I could only helplessly watch my family fall apart. The daily fights, the anger, the hatred, the fear, the helplessness is all I can remember. My dad on the verge of axing me, my mom soaked in kerosene with a lit matchstick in her hand are my childhood memories. God’s love was the last thing I experienced. God was almost non-existent.

But all this changed one night when I sat before the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration. Some years ago, in a retreat, during an inner healing prayer, the preacher made us journey though our entire life – from the moment we were conceived in our mother’s womb till that very day. We had to remember all the past incidents and offer it to Jesus. As I was praying, I could see all that I have gone through, scroll right in front of my eyes – all the hurtful, painful incidents, all the fights, all the times I felt alone, crushed; I could see them all. But then I saw something special. In all these incidents I could see Jesus standing right next to me! Through all the pains I could see Him consoling me. All the moments I thought I suffered alone, I could see Him holding my hand. It was as if I was living my life once again, but this time with Jesus by my side. All these while I thought I was alone, but then, that night I realized that I was not alone. God was with me all through; each and every second. I was filled with so much of joy that I can’t explain. I just burst out in tears, tears of joy! And since then I have been singing – ‘I am not alone.’ Surely I faced problems and struggles, even bigger ones, after that night, but I never felt alone coz I felt the love of God always surround me.


Over the past few years I have learned one thing - no matter what happens in our life, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Even if you are going through the biggest struggle in your life, the love of God is right there with you. You might be struggling in your studies, or at work, or in your personal life, you might be crushed under the demands others put on you, might be absolutely clueless about your future, might be struggling to find a job, or to make friends, or to face people, you might be going through the biggest dilemma, pain, confusion in your life, you might be feeling absolutely lost, lonely, depressed, you might be chained by your sins or addictions,  you might think nobody understands you, cares for you, loves you, you might be going through the deepest, darkest phase in your life. No matter how bad the situation is, don’t worry coz you are not alone, the Love of God is always there with you to guide you, to protect you, to strengthen you. That’s why St Paul says:
 “For I am certain that nothing can separate us from His love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below – there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)

God Loves You!

God Bless!!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

To Do or Not To Do?


A couple of weeks ago I was reading through my usual cartoon strips in the newspaper, when I came across a funny T-shirt quote. It read, ‘Do not lead me into temptation. I can do it myself!’ I couldn’t stop laughing for some time after reading it. But actually how true it is! We just keep falling into temptations, one after the other. And for some, it is so painful to give-in to temptations. We feel so guilty every time we fall; we curse ourselves and sometimes we even accuse God for giving us such temptations.

A few days ago in a sermon during the Holy Mass, I heard something radically different. The priest asked us to thank God for temptations. I was shocked when I heard that.  “Thank God for temptations?! Why??” Then he went on to explain, telling something that was really an eye-opener for me. He said temptations are not bad, evil, sinister things or situations. Instead they are an opportunity – opportunity to do good or bad. Every time we face a temptation, it gives us an opportunity to either fall for it and do bad or to resist it and do something good. How we look at it depends on us.


His sermon reminded me about one of the most beautiful thing that God gives us – the freedom to choose.  He never forces us to do anything. He says, “Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil, between life and death.” (Deuteronomy 30:15) And He leaves the choice open to us. We can choose either, but what we go through depends on the choices we make. During a major portion of my growing up I made the wrong choices, misused the freedom God so lovingly gave me. And I faced the consequences as well. Each day I was going deeper and deeper into the filth, unable to see goodness in myself, others and in God; unable to experience peace, joy and love; unable to stop myself from destroying whatever good was in me, unable to stop my life from becoming bad to worse. Till one day I met God and decided to follow Him. Decided to choose life. And life has not been the same since then.

“I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between blessing and curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose Life!” (Deuteronomy 30:19) God wants us to choose life, but doesn’t force it upon us. He requests, He pleads us to make the right choice. And He values each decision that we make so much that He calls all the heaven and earth to witness it, still hoping that we make the right choice.



In one of the retreats the preacher asked us a seemingly simple question. “In a fight between a good dog and a bad dog, which dog do you think will win?” Many of us said bad dog and many good. But his answer was a bit different. He said, “The dog whom you feed will win.”  In us also there is a bad dog and a good dog, the human spirit and the Holy Spirit. Who wins depends on whom we feed, depends on the choices we make daily.

So the next time you decide to sleep a little bit more in the morning and miss the Holy Mass, the next time you choose to give reading the Bible a miss since you have other ‘important’ things to do, the next time you are about to open your mouth to speak ill about others, to abuse, to lie; the next time your hands hesitate to help someone, the next time your eyes want to gaze at things you should not, the next time while browsing the net you are about to click on a link, the next time you are going to abuse your own body, the next time you are going to hold that bottle in your hand, the next time you are going to get angry, the next time your mind goes astray, the next time you decide to disrespect your parents or elders, the next time you choose to hold grudge against someone, the next time you are going to do something thinking no one will come to know about it, just pause for a second and ask yourself – To do or not to do?, Should I or should I not? And you will hear a still small voice inside telling you what is right for you, telling you to choose good, telling you to choose Life! The choice is yours. 

The Lord loves you infinitely, unconditionally, eternally. But experiencing His love is your choice. Choose Life! Choose experiencing His Love!

God bless!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day Message


It’s Feb – the month of Love and now only a few more days remain for the day many of us would be eagerly waiting for – the Valentine’s Day!! Whether it be newspapers or magazines or malls or card shops or even a stroll across any street in the city, you can’t escape looking at hearts, balloons, cakes, beautiful bouquets, chocolates.....This is the month in which one can truly say ‘Love is in the air.’


But what is love? Some say its a special feeling for a special someone, some say its an emotion, some say its a decision, some say its a chemical reaction, some say its the biggest mistake one can ever make, some say its life, some say its just indescribable!! Well, I found the best definition about love nowhere else but in the Bible. St Paul says:

“ Love is patient and kind.
It is not jealous or conceited or proud.
Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or short tempered
Love does not keep a record of wrongs;
Love is not happy with evil, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love is eternal.”  
(1Corinthians 13:4-8)

WOW!!  When I first read these verses I was just blown away. That’s what true love is. That’s how God wants it to be. A selfless, unconditional love.  And He showed it to us, “..it is not that we have loved God,  but that He loved us first and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.” (1 John 4:10) His Love follows us wherever we go, lifts us whenever we are down, protects us whenever we are troubled, guides us whenever we are unsure, surrounds us whenever we are alone, hugs us whenever we need a touch, brings out the best in us and strips away our weaknesses. His Love is always there for us.  And this is His special message for each one of us:

        ‘For God so loVed the world
That He gAve
    His onLy
   BegottEn
       SoN
                                That whosoever
      Believes In Him
             Should Not perish
                                     But have Everlasting life.’ (John 3:16)

He considers each one of us to be His Valentine. Do we consider Him special? This Valentine’s Day apart from wishing our special ones, let’s wish God, who loved us first. Let’s tell him ‘I Love You too’, coz He said it first, to each one of us, on the Cross.



A couple of years ago when I wished God on Valentine’s Day, He replied  ‘I love you a lot’. But He didn’t stop there. He asked me to tell others also that He loves them too. God’s love is there for everyone irrespective of who they are, how they are, what they have done.

So on 14th Feb, lets spread the message of God’s Love. And the message is – God still loves the world. He is passionately busy loving you and me!!!


God Bless!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Big Picture - How Big is Our God!!


A couple of weeks ago I unexpectedly got a chance to go home and spend time with my family. I really enjoyed each and every second I spent there especially playing with my 5 yr old nephew. We played all sorts of games from crashing cars to chasing each other to drawing Ben 10 cartoons to even fighting with each other. It was total fun. During one of such playing spree, while chasing me, he suddenly shouted and started crying on top of his voice. I soon realised that he hit his leg on the edge of the door, but thankfully there was no injury. Still he was crying and shouting uncontrollably. He kept on saying, “Oh my leg is gone, my leg is gone!”,   “Oh no! I will never be able to walk again!!!” etc etc. I was just stunned. For an injury that was almost non-existent, he raised the entire house on his head!!

Many a times it happens to me also and I guess to all of us. Our problems seem so big and insurmountable that we forget about everything and just dwell on it helplessly. It seems to be the biggest problem the entire mankind has ever encountered! We run helter-skelter telling everyone about our ‘big’ problem, rather than finding a solution, and in the process give others some ‘big’ problems as well. We put an ant under a magnifying glass and scream as if it’s a dinosaur!! That’s why I thought of sharing ‘The Big Picture’ this time.

For each of us, we ourselves are most important and our problems, issues, expectations, feeling, disappointments the biggest. But we forget that we are just a small part of ‘The Big Picture’. We are just one among the other 6.8 billion Homo sapiens on the face of the planet Earth. On a picture of the Earth you cant see you or me or our ‘big’ problems!


Earth sure is big. It’s huge!! When compared to Venus, Mars Mercury and Pluto it’s the biggest.



But it’s not big enough. It stands nowhere in front of other planets. Jupiter, the biggest planet, is bigger than 1300 earths put together.


And as for Jupiter, it is one-hundredth the size of the Sun. If Sun were a basketball, Jupiter would be just a pea. In the picture, you can hardly see Earth, leave aside the 6.8 billion people, leave aside you and me or our ‘big’ problems!!


And if you thought Sun was the biggest, think again.






In front of Antares, Sun is nothing, leave aside Jupiter or Earth or its 6.8 billion inhabitants or you and me or our ‘big’ problems!!! And Antares is just one among the billions of stars that are there in the universe spread across billions of light years. Humans with all their capabilities and technologies have not yet been able to fathom the extent of the universe!

But God has. The Bible says, “The Lord determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm147:4) We are still struggling to name the new planets and stars that we are discovering. That’s why we are coming up with names like UB313, GJ 1214b etc. But God, who created the entire universe, knows each one by name. That’s how big our God is! Bigger than the BIG universe.

If God is so big, where does the Earth, its more than 6.8 billion inhabitants, you and me and our problems stand in front of our BIG God?? The answer is – very close to His heart! Coz the same God, who named the stars, tells each one of us, “Do not be afraid – I will save you. I have called you by name – you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) Our God is not someone who sits up there and sees us poor little creatures, but He is someone who is with us right here, right now, who knows each one of us individually, who knows what’s happening in our lives, who knows what we are going through, who understands our troubles and worries, desires and dreams, who loves each one of us personally and unconditionally, who says, “Even the hairs of your head are counted. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 10:30,31) That’s how Big our God actually is. Though almighty, He still cares for you and me. Though bigger than the BIG universe, He is still concerned about our smallest of the small problems. That’s ‘The Big Picture’. No matter what happens, we are safe in His arms.


I have said this before and I want to say it again: Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problem how Big your God is.

God Bless!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Holy Spirit is My Helper


Though I received the Holy Spirit for the first time during my baptism, my relationship with Him became stronger after I attended a retreat during my college days. Before that I used to run away from Church and prayers, but after that I started a new journey. And I had a wonderful companion with me all through. He was no one else but the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit made me understand God's love and made me love Him. He kindled in me a desire to go for daily Mass and cherish each one of them. He made me understand what was written in the Bible. He guided me whenever I was in a confusion. He filled me with peace and joy which was beyond my understanding! He was the true Helper I always wanted, a true and faithful companion. And during this time I came across a song which helped me understand the power of the Holy Spirit and helped me come closer to Him. The song's titled 'The Holy Spirit is my Helper.' And now after a long time I thought its time for me to do something for my best friend. So I made a video of the song and uploaded it on YouTube. :-) Here it is. Enjoy and dont forget to make Him your friend too. God Bles!




Lyrics:

The Holy Spirit is my helper
Now and forever
The one who is always by my side.

He strengthens me when I'm weak and worn
Takes away from me desires of this world
He teaches me to love and forgive
Shows me how to pray and fills me with the word
The mysteries of God He makes known to me
The truth now I'm able to see
Wisdom and counsel He gives to me
And fills me with power from above

Monday, January 11, 2010

The New Year Gift – The Helper

It’s a New Year and all of us would love to get a New Year gift. The best one I can think of is ‘The Helper’. The same gift Jesus gave His disciples 2000 yrs ago when He said, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.” (John 14:16) This Helper is no one else but the Holy Spirit.


Holy Spirit is the most obscure one in the Holy Trinity. Even I had absolutely no idea about Him for a major part of my life. That’s basically because of my ignorance, but it led to a very embarrassing incident. I was in Std 8th and that year in our History class we were learning about the major religions in the world and how they came to be. In one such class we were being taught about Christianity and we stumbled across a word none of us (including me) had ever heard before- ‘Trinity’. The teacher said that trinity stands for three persons in Christianity. Being the only Catholic in my class he asked me who the three persons were. Absolutely puzzled, I said I had no idea. Then he went on to say, “Trinity means the Father, The Son and.......” I suddenly seemed to have got the answer and said, “ the Mother!!! Father, Son and Mother!!” He gently corrected me and said, “No. Its the Holy Spirit! The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The entire class had a good laugh and I was left red-faced like I have never been before.

I heard about the Holy Spirit here and there, now and then after that, but it was during a retreat towards the end of my second year in the Engineering college that I actually came to know Him. The preacher spoke so passionately about the Holy Spirit. He described Him in a very simple way- Holy Spirit is our Helper, our best friend who is with us always, who walks with us, sits with us, prays with us, studies/works with us, shares in everything we go through. He said Holy Spirit is the best friend who is with us always but we hardly acknowledge His presence! That was an eye opener for me. All my life I was always in search of a best friend, but I never knew I already had one. At the end of the retreat I walked out with the best friend by my side – The Holy Spirit.



The days after that were simply amazing. I really loved being with my newly found best friend. I would talk with Him while walking, while eating in the mess, make Him sit right next to me while studying etc etc and He truly turned out to be the Helper He was supposed to be. He would speak to me often, remind me about things I forgot, He taught me how to pray, helped me read the Bible which I never did before, made me love going to the Church which earlier was a dreadful experience, He would help me in my exams, tell me questions that are going to come beforehand, would help me get the output in Lab exams which was earlier almost impossible, gave me the courage to speak in public and so much more. I had so many wonderful experiences with Him. Just wanted to share one of them.

Almost three years ago there was a National Leaders Gathering in Nagpur in which around 300 youth from all over India came and I was one among them. The programme was blessed by many eminent speakers including Sr Emmanuel from Medjugorje (Bosnia). All the sessions were in English and had to be translated to Hindi to ensure that everybody understood what was being said. And guess whom they chose to translate? Me!!! I was shocked and so were my friends who came along with me. Though I knew both the languages it was a difficult task speaking in pure Hindi, without using a single word in English and that too when it included so many church-related terms. I knew I would make a fool of myself in front of the large and eminent gathering. So the next thing I did was to ask the Helper to help me out. I said a small prayer to the Holy Spirit asking Him to be with me and take control of me as I stood in front of the crowd translating what the great, holy and blessed speakers were saying. And what happened was nothing short of a miracle. The translation was just perfect so much so that even now people remember and compliment me for that. I could remember the longest sentences spoken and translate it perfectly into pure Hindi without any mistake. During breaks so many people came and congratulated me. Some even asked what was the Hindi of this word or that, but surprisingly I was blank! I didn’t know the words I translated and spoke on the stage just a few minutes ago! I was absolutely unaware of what I was speaking. It was as if someone else was speaking through me. And I exactly knew who it was. No one else but my Best Friend – the Holy Spirit!

This incident just reminded me about what happened to Peter. He was an illiterate, ignorant man who in spite of being a close disciple of Jesus was so afraid and timid that he denied knowing Jesus three times. But once he received the Holy Spirit after the death and resurrection of Jesus, he was able to stand in front of an entire city, stand in front of the most influential and powerful people and proclaim about Jesus boldly. Where did he get this courage from? From the helper – the Holy Spirit.



Over the years I have found out that the Holy Spirit, apart from being my best friend, is also the best counsellor, the best comforter, the best teacher, the best guide, the best support, the most creative person, the most effective problem solver, the most tactful miracle worker, and the most powerful, genius, mysterious, humorous, reliable, helpful person I have ever come across. And the best thing about Him is that He is always accessible, always there by my side. Thats why I have decided this year to deepen my friendship with Him. How about you? Don’t miss this New Year gift. Make Him your own best friend. All you have to do is to believe in Him and talk with Him- just what you do with your other friends. And you will find a friend unlike any other ever.

“For God did not give us a Spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control.” (2Timothy1:7)

Enjoy the new year with Him. God Bless!