Saturday, November 2, 2013

Lessons from my Nephew

Last six months have been full of fun, adventure, excitement, joy at home! The reason behind all this: my two and half year old nephew, Ahaan. He has been staying with my mom and me for some time now and as I dropped him back at his parents’ place a few days back I realized how our lives have been resolving around this hyperactive, adventurous, naughty, powerhouse of unending energy and excitement!! During this time that he stayed with us, we tried teaching him a lot of things, but all in vain. All our efforts failed in front of this highly determined soul who wanted to do everything ‘my way or the highway’ style. Well, in the bargain, he taught me a few lessons for life. Have been wanting to share it for a long time, but, as you can understand, got time only now.

Lesson 1:

There was this one incident during my initial days with him, when I had still not realized that patience is THE virtue when dealing with him. Just after he finished his dinner and before we started ours, he did something naughty which I’ve been telling him not to do for a long time. I scolded him and he started crying. Usually during those days, he wouldn’t just stop with crying but go a step forward and vomit as well. And this time too he was doing the same thing. In my attempts to stop him from doing that, I patted him on his lips. That anyways didn’t stop him, but rather hurt him. He vomited everything that he ate that night. He went crying to my mom and was with her for the rest of the night. We all slept with a very heavy heart. But next day morning, life was back to normal. He was again the fun-loving guy he is and was playing me with me as if nothing happened. What a relief!! J This made me think how I and many of us are. What do we do if someone does or even says the slightest of the things that hurt or offend us? We hurt and offend them back, talk ill about them, hold grudge against them and that too sometimes for the rest of our lives, blacklist them, avoid them, cut-off ourselves from them if possible. That’s when my nephew taught me to forgive, forget and move on. Life would be so much more better if we do that. No wonder Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27,28) And if your question is how many times should we forgive someone. Jesus’ answer is “.. seventy – seven times.” (Matthew 18:22), which means as many times as possible!!

Lesson 2:

With me around, excitement quotient for Ahaan increases exponentially!! Sometimes it becomes very difficult to control him. So, when we go to church to attend the Mass I tactfully leave him with his Granny who is blessed with virtues to lovingly and patiently take care of him. I sit at the other end, far away from his sight. One Sunday towards the end of the Mass, amidst the sound of songs and prayers, I heard a voice from across the hall. And I recognized that it was Ahaan. I was instantly reminded of Jesus’ words, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Through these words Jesus, our Good Shepherd, says how He personally knows us and how because of this close relationship, we (His sheep) hear and recognize His voice. This is so true in life. Had it been six months before, I might not have even heard the voice of Ahaan in the crowd and if I had, I would have thought that it is some other kid. But having spent time with him, I’ve come to know him better, I know his likes and dislikes, I know what makes him happy and excited, I know his voice. That’s why I was able to recognize his voice amidst all the others. Isn’t that so in our relationship with God? We say that God doesn’t exist, God doesn’t speak. Isn’t that because we have not put in enough efforts to know Him, to spend time with Him? Trust me, He definitely speaks and has spoken to me so clearly, so personally, so many times and still does. But to hear Him I had to and I still continue to invest in building my personal relationship with Him.  

Lesson 3:

Towards the end of his stay with us, Ahaan taught me another important lesson. One evening, he was standing on our dining table and when I came nearer to the table, he saw me and jumped on me. Thankfully, I caught him! He loved doing that and you know what happens when kids love doing something. They do it over and over and over again!! So then, for the next few minutes and the next few days, he would get on the table and without thinking anything just jump on me, trusting that I would catch him. He had no doubt or hesitation in doing something so dangerous. In fact I was more worried about it. But this guy’s confidence, joy and trust made me ensure that I catch him. And how perfectly I can relate it to my relationship with God – my Father! There have been so many instances in which I’ve taken the blind leap of faith and every time He caught me, He didn’t let go of me. We limit God with our limited understanding of Him. We think He can do something and there are a lot of things He can’t do. Well, here’s a reality check for us: “For God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27) In our relationship with God, sometimes what is needed is to keep our logical thinking aside, trust in Him blindly, jump and experience Him catching us, experience His love. Unfailing love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. (Psalm 32:10)

Forgive and forget. Build personal relation with God to hear Him. Blindly trust in God. In a few months’ time, Ahaan taught me these and much more. Now I clearly understand why Jesus says, “unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

I guess, when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our educational qualification, our financial status , our social stature, our possessions or lack of them, our achievements or failure……; instead He sees His child. That’s the only thing that matters. He is our loving Father and we are His children. Do we see a Heavenly Father in Him? Do we act like His children?

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. -1John 3:1.

God Bless!

Friday, August 16, 2013

'Life Saving' Abortions!

A few weeks back, all news channels carried the headline “‘Life Saving’ Abortions” in their scrolling news ticker, the news flash etc. The breaking news referred to the bill passed in the Irish Parliament allowing abortions in case of threat to the mother’s life - a fallout of the death of Savita Halappanavar. I was taken aback by the news. What shocked me, among other things, was the headline itself – ‘Life Saving’ Abortions. I thought to myself, “Hey, isn’t that an oxymoron!”

I’m not sure how others would define abortion, but any dictionary be it Oxford or Websters or an app on my phone, can’t complete the definition of the word ‘abortion’ without mentioning words like ‘death’, ‘termination’ etc. What implies so clearly from these definitions is that the fetus inside is alive and abortion by definition is killing the fetus. In spite of this being so obvious, people still think and believe that it’s a lump of cells within the womb which doesn’t have any life!

Coming back to the headline, in view of these definitions, our headline now reads “‘Life Saving’ Murders” or “‘Life Saving’ Homicides.”!!! Now you know what I mean when I say that it’s an oxymoron - it contradicts itself! One might still say that even murders while defending oneself is justified to an extent by the law. But isn’t that the case when the person who is being killed is on an offense and trying to kill you and you defend yourself against the aggression. But in case of abortion, the one being killed is an innocent, defenseless baby, whose cries can’t be heard by anyone! The place where he is being killed, is one which is most secure for him and the one who decides to kill him is the one who is privileged with the responsibility to give him life, to love him beyond measures – his mom!

“If a human being is no longer safe in his mother’s womb, where in the world can he be safe? – Phil Bosmans (Belgian Priest and Writer)

One can say, “Isn’t the life of the mother more important, shouldn’t we do everything to save her life?” Pope Pius XII already answered this question more than half a century ago saying. “….the demand cannot be but this: To use every means to save the life of both the mother and the child.” Sure, there might be instances where the life of mother and also that of the child as well is at risk, but these are rare. We know from the Church teachings that“… if for example, the safety of the life of the future mother, independently of her state of pregnancy, might call for an urgent surgical operation, or any other therapeutic application, which would have as an accessory consequence, in no way desired nor intended, but inevitable, the death of the fetus, such an act could not be called a direct attempt on the innocent life. In these conditions the operation can be lawful, as can other similar medical interventions, provided that it be a matter of great importance, such as life, and that it is not possible to postpone it till the birth of the child, or to have recourse to any other efficacious remedy.” [Article 14 of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's Declaration on Procured Abortion. Click here]

Here Pope Pius XII was referring to rare and exceptional cases, however how flimsy the definition of ‘life saving’ is as per the new Irish law can be understood from the fact that according to it, if a panel of doctors feel that the mother might commit suicide, the same can be considered life threatening for mother and hence in that case abortion is justified. A simple excuse to abort a child, to end an innocent life. Just because no one has seen the child, heard him speak, felt his embrace, experienced his love and been in his presence, is it right to cut him, chop him, suffocate him, kill him? My apologies for being this graphic, but couldn’t help; that’s the fact anyways. Over the centuries human race has raised voice and fought against inequality and discrimination: whether it is between foreigner settlers and indigenous population, rich and poor, black and white, male and female, high caste and low caste. Now we have come down to a state where we have to raise our voice to ensure equality between different stages of life – between the born and soon-to-be born!

Mother Teresa said, “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love - that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” [Reference:]

The reason one would want to justify abortion can be many, but to defend and bring forth life is just one – Love.

“Love protects all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7

Stand for love, Stand for life!

God Bless!

Other Related Posts:  Stand for Life;
                                  99 Balloons.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Drive Away.....

Right now in the organization that I work, we are in the process of setting our goals for the new financial year. Lot of work is happening in terms of finalizing a strategy, deciding priorities which would help the goal setting process. In our personal life as well, we do our own goal setting. It can be anything from losing 5 kilos to buying a house, from getting a new dress to getting married. I too had one very important personal goal to achieve. Every birthday, New Year, Christmas would be a deadline I would set for myself to reach this goal. But over the last few years I have been missing the deadline over and over again.  Wondering what this goal was? Well, it was to learn driving and get myself a car.

It might seem like a very simple goal for most of you. Driving comes naturally to many. But, not so for me. It was one of my biggest fears, which I have been battling for more than a decade now! I made progress now and then, but then some incident (read accident) or other would happen because of which I would give up. I had almost resigned to the fact that I would never be able to drive.

A few years back, this was not the only fear I had. There were so many of them. But, after coming to know God in a deeper way and while reading the Bible I came across a very beautiful verse which said, “Perfect love drives away all fear.” I realized by then, that God loves me perfectly, whereas my love for Him was nowhere close to being perfect. I understood that all the fears I had were because of lack of this perfect love and trust in God. I started praying and surrendering them to God, asking for His help to overcome my fears. He started working and soon I was no longer afraid or worried about most of the things. And driving also joined that list. Last month, I got my driving license and a car to drive. I still have a long way to go. I’ve dashed the car twice, still not comfortable at driving in peak traffic, still honk a lot, still leave my fellow motorists annoyed, but I know it will get better. If with God I could overcome this much, the remaining will happen soon too. A few months back I could not even imagine seeing myself sitting behind a steering wheel, but God made it possible.

I realized one thing - fear is so ingrained in all of us. And it is this fear that prevents us from loving God perfectly. God knows the importance for us to rise over all this and thats why He asks us not to be afraid. Not once, not twice, not thrice, but hundreds of times throughout the Bible, God tell us “Do not be afraid.” (Genesis 15:1, Exodus 20:20, Isaiah 35:4, Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 1:8, Deuteronomy 31:6,Deaniel 10:12, 1Chronicle 28:20, Zephaniah 3:16, Haggai 2:5, Matthew 10:28, Luke 1:13, John 14:27, Mark 6:50, Act 18:9, 1Peter 3:6, Revelation 1:17........ and many more). He couldn’t have been more clear or direct in telling this to us. Whether its fear of darkness, fear of heights, fear of speaking in public, fear of performing on stage, fear of driving, fear of animals, fear of a particular person, fear of sickness or disease, fear of failure, fear of taking responsibility, fear of losing a loved one, fear of loneliness, fear about financial insecurity, fear of uncertain future, fear of ambiguity, fear of death…..; no matter what we are afraid of, He tells us just one thing - “Do not be afraid.” Let’s listen to His words, surrender our fears - from the biggest to even the smallest ones - to Him, ask His help to overcome it and make efforts to make lesser room for fear and more room for a perfect love for Him.

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives away fear,…, those who fear do not know perfect love.” – 1 John 4:18.

God Bless!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

One Year, 10000 Views!!!

It may make me sound very ancient, but when I first started exploring the cyber space there was no such thing as YouTube - now, the third most visited website and something which has become a part and parcel of our lives. Everything – from music, to movies, to sports, to news, to bloopers, to random videos – everything is there on YouTube! A few years back I also joined the bandwagon and opened my account. Today I want to share about one of my videos, which is not the most viewed in my channel, but which stands out to be a special one for me. I’ll get back to more details about it shortly.

Let me take you to 30th March 2013. It’s a Saturday evening, the one before Easter. I decided to go to my parish church and help out with anything I could for the midnight Easter Vigil Mass. During the few hours that I spent there with the youth from the parish, I realized that each one of them was so gifted, so talented. Some could sing amazingly well, some play instruments so professionally, some compose such soul-stirring songs, some are artistic and good at decorating, some good event managers....... And I stood in midst of them, just dumbstruck at all the talent that surrounded me!

I personally feel, believe and know that I do not have any talent in me. When I was in school, I did win some competitions, but all that vanished soon. I went into a shell and didn’t even have the courage to look at people's face and talk. And that’s when God intervened and changed my life upside down! I don’t know when or where, but I remember sometime during those first few years of my walk with God - our Father, I came across a phrase which was an eye-opener for me: “God doesn’t always call the qualified, but He always qualifies the called.” And trust me, this has been so true in my life!

Those who know me, know how terribly I sing. But there have been days when people would come to me and tell, “You sang that song so well” and there was one day when I sang in a choir in front of thousands. I do not know pure Hindi especially when it comes to Church related terms, but there have been days when I had to do a real-time Hindi translation of a session being taken by an international speaker, and I did that so seamlessly that many came and appreciated me for that. The best part being the fact that I spoke words which I never knew before and which I didn’t remember right after the sessions! I got a chance to act, to dance, to speak, to write, to click pictures, to compose songs all of which I know I cannot do on my own. And I got to makes videos as well!

Coming back to the story about the video I mentioned in the first paragraph. Well some time during Lent last year, I had this immense inspiration to make a video on one of favourite songs and upload it on YouTube. I’m not a professional at making videos. I don’t have any technical skills. When I started making it, I realized how difficult it was. I didn’t have the right software, the one that I had didn’t work with the format in which I had the video clippings, wasn’t able to synchronize the sound and to add to that I had a pathetically slow internet connection which made it all even worse. During those days I had crazy workload at office. But the inspiration, the urge was so strong that I couldn’t help but make the video. I had to upload it before Easter and I was working night and day to prepare it by that time. Once made, I couldn’t upload it for days due to the slow connection. Finally, I had to go to an internet cafe and upload it. Throughout those days, I could see God leading me so well, with the right resources, right insights, right help at the right time. I remember somewhere during the initial few days of uploading I very casually said to God, “It would be great if in one year this video could get 10,000 hits.” And I left it at that. I absolutely forgot that statement, but I guess God didn’t. I remembered that statement, which I so casually told God, early this month. I uploaded the video on April 3rd 2012 and on April 2nd 2013 it had received 10, 487 views!! Praise God!! This is the video I’m talking about: 

If you watch it, you would realize that it is not the best video you would have seen, it is not the most professional video, it is not the most viewed video, not even in my channel, but it is this video, and the comments left by the viewers, that reminds me that God qualifies the called!

The next time you think that you are not talented, not capable, not qualified enough for anything, think again. Moses was a stutterer, but God called him to show His people the Promised Land. Rahab was a prostitute, but God called her to save His people and to help give them victory. Jeremiah said, “Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am still young”, but God called him to speak His words to the most difficult audience. Isaiah was a man of unclean lips, but God called him to prophecy about the coming of Christ. Peter was an illiterate fisherman with no social stature, but God made him stand in front of thousands including the most qualified men at that time and speak so strongly that they were surprised and they realized the power of Jesus. Saul, was busy persecuting those who believed in Jesus, but God called him to be His chosen instrument. Renamed as Paul, almost half of the New Testament is written by him. Augustine was a rich, highly educated, spoilt lad with infamous past, but God called him to be a Saint, a Doctor of the Church, whose writings have greatly influenced philosophy. AnjezĂ« Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, was a timid young girl from Southeast Europe, but God called her to travel almost half-way around the world to show the world the most radical way of caring for the sick, the unwanted, the unloved, the dying and in this way become Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

The list carries on and on, the names are innumerable. If God has worked in them, He surely can, in you and me. No wonder St. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

So all those who think you do not have any talents, give whatever little you have to Him and see Him work wonders. And those who have, I don’t know what to say to you guys, except that: “YOU ARE BLESSED!!!” Realize this blessing, thank God and use it well.

God Bless!!

Monday, April 15, 2013


The Holy Week got over a couple of weeks ago. Throughout the seven days, we remember many of the major events which took place during the last few days of Jesus’ earthly life. These days are a roller-coaster ride when it comes to emotions and feelings they invoke. From the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the touching act of washing His disciples’ feet and having the last meal with them on Maundy Thursday, to the sorrow of death of Jesus – the Messiah – on Good Friday and finally the victorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday which fills us with everlasting hope and joy.  But have you ever wondered what makes the joy of Easter so meaningful, so memorable and so precious? I believe it’s the sadness of Good Friday which precedes it.

You must be wondering why am I telling you all this. Well, during the lent, I took a commitment to memorize one Bible verse each day and throughout the 40 days I could see God speaking to me amazingly through the scriptures. And one of the verses I came across, which spoke to me strongly was: “Happy are those who patiently endure trials, because afterwards they will receive the crown of life which the Lord promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12. Within a few days of I reading this verse, I came across many who were suffering: an office colleague who fell ill, a friend who lost his family member, problems in my own family...... But this verse acted as a consolation to many.

What struck me most about the verse was the word ‘afterwards’. It clearly pointed out that it is ‘afterwards’ that we receive the crown of life. Many a times in our lives we come across problems, trials, failures, sickness, sufferings. When we are going through it, it is the most painful experience for us, but when it’s over we look back and see the purpose behind it, we understand that it all happened for a reason.

It reminds me of an eaglet learning how to fly. When the right time comes, its mother makes the nest uncomfortable, shakes it and drops the eaglet from a great height. It falls down helplessly towards the earth, but just before it is about to crash, the mother comes and lifts it up and after soaring high, drops it again. This process goes on and on, till the eaglet finally learns how to fly. During the process, the eaglet would be shocked to see how such a loving mother could become so cruel, it would be afraid, scared, pained at what’s happening to it. But once it’s over, the eaglet will realize that it all happened for a reason. Similarly, a grain of wheat, when it falls on the ground and dies, only then does it give birth to another sapling which brings forth many more grains.

From my own personal experience, I’ve understood that all sufferings are a blessing in disguise. During my first eighteen years of life, I had gone through a lot; I spent many days and nights asking God why did I have to face all these problems, pain, suffering. But now, when I look back, I thank God for all those sufferings, because that made me what I’m today, and that made me realize the amazing love I experience from Him and my family. I understand now that it all happened for a reason.

No matter what problems come in our life, no matter how hard our life can become, no matter how much of pain and suffering we have to go through, no matter if we come across failures more often in our lives, no matter if things don’t go as per our plans, no matter if we face issues in our family, at work, with friends; lets realize that it all happens for a reason and that afterwards we would understand the purpose behind it. So, what do we do when we go through it? We should ‘patiently endure’, trusting in God’s plan for us, knowing that God, our Heavenly Father, knows what’s best for us.

Let’s not forget that before the joy of Easter, comes the sorrow, the pain and the loss of Good Friday. And just like Easter, let’s believe and experience that though the sorrows may last for the night, but His joy comes with the morning!! (Psalm 30:5)

Yahweh says, “I will turn their mourning into gladness. I will give them comfort and joy for their sorrows.” (Jeremiah 31:13)

God Bless!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Saving Swap!

The Passion of the Christ is one of the most moving movies I’ve ever seen. I still remember the first time I saw it in on the big screen, I could hardly hold back my tears during most part of the movie. The images, the dialogues were so powerful; they just pierced though my heart. Many of them I still can’t forget, still speak to me, still inspire me. I’ve seen the movie over and over again, and every time I see, it’s as if I’m seeing it for the first time, as if I’m reliving the betrayal,  trial, passion and death of Jesus once again! For me, it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.
However, the same is not the case with some of my friends. Some find it just another movie, some find it gory, too violent, exaggerated etc etc etc. I guess, I would have also felt the same way had I not realized that it was for me that Jesus died, that it was for my sins that He was punished. Everything that’s depicted in the movie – the lashes, the pain, the agony, the humiliation, the torture- should have happened to me; that it was I who should have felt the pain and suffered, I who should have been chastised, humiliated, crucified, punished for all the wrongs I did. But, instead, Jesus swapped himself for me. He took my place and He saved me.
As Isaiah prophesied 700 years before it all happened:  
“He was wounded and bruised for our sins!
He was chastised that we may have peace,
He was lashed and we were healed!
We are the ones who strayed away like sheep;
we, who left God’s path to follow our own,
yet God laid on Him the guilt and sins of every one of us!
From prison and trail they led Him away to His death.
But, who among the people of that day
realized it was their sins that He was dying for,
that He was suffering their punishment?
He, who had never committed a crime or told a lie,
was counted as a sinner, and He bore the sins of many,
and He prayed that they might be forgiven.”
(Isaiah 53)

Today we observe Good Friday - a day which will always remind us of this saving swap, the ultimate sacrifice God made for us, the greatest sign of His love for us. “God has shown us how much He loves us – it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

And this Love is not limited to just a few; it is there for each one of us. “He died for all.” (2 Corinthians 5:15)
May we all know God’s personal love for us, may we realize that it was for us that Jesus died and may we experience the power and glory of His resurrection.
God Bless!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Coming Home!

Kolkata – a hot n humid, polluted n populated city for some. But for me it truly is the City of Joy. I spent the best year of my life there, working as a fulltime volunteer for a youth group. Last weekend, I got a chance to go back to Kolkata after five years and relive the best days of my life once again. Can’t thank God enough for that!! Every street I walked through, every place I visited, every friend I met brought back so many memories!!!

One such memory was rekindled when I met a close friend of mine. During my earlier stay, a retreat was arranged in his school and as a part of the retreat everyone was encouraged to confess. This friend of mine was also one among them, but every time he reached the confessional he would back out. I ran behind him, caught him, took him to the confessional twice and made sure he confessed. Last weekend when we met we talked and laughed about that incident, but both of us knew that incident played such an important role in his life! He still talks about it and shares his experience with others.

Confession was a dreadful experience for me as well. The thought of recollecting and telling all the sins I did was scary!! Before I joined my engineering college, I confessed only twice and that too because it was mandatory and that too half-heartedly. But then one confession changed it all forever. It was towards the end of my first year in college. I reluctantly went for a youth retreat. The first couple of days were fun, but then came the day we had to go for Confession!!! I thought of making it as quick as I could. But when I started, I went on and on and on. All the sin and the filth in my life, which I had hidden deep inside me for years, just came out. I started crying and I still remember the priest’s hand becoming wet by tears which were rolling down my cheeks. At the end of it, he just said, “your sins are forgiven. I absolve you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” No questions asked! No conditions kept!! I can’t share with you, how I felt when I heard those words. It was as if a big huge load was taken off me and suddenly I could breathe freely!! I knew I came back home, I came back to God, my loving Father!

Since then, confession has helped me strengthen my relationship with God. Coming to think of it now, my decision to go for the one year fulltime volunteership - the best decision I ever took in my entire life, also came from a confessional.  Sometimes confession is such a strong experience for me when I feel transformed, touched, healed, liberated; and sometimes I don’t feel anything at all after confessing. But I know that no matter what, every time I confess, I’m cleansed of my unworthiness, I receive His abundant grace, I’m welcomed with His arms wide open. I recently read a mail written by a priest in which he said, “The Confessional is a place where people let God's love win. In Confession, we meet Jesus who reminds us, "You are worth dying for . . . even in your sins, you are worth dying for." Confession is always a place of victory. Whether you have confessed a particular sin for the first time, or if this is the 12,001st time, every Confession is a win for Jesus.”

I rediscovered one of the most amazing Psalms about confession. It goes like this:

When I kept my sin secret, my body wasted away,
I was moaning all day long.
your hand day and night lay heavy upon me;
draining my strength, parching my heart
as in the heat of a summer drought.
Then I made known to you my sin
and uncovered before you my fault, saying to myself,
“To the Lord, I will now confess my wrong”.
And you, you forgave my sin and removed my guilt.....
You are my refuge;
you protect me from distress
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalm 32)
In this season of lent, as we prepare to partake in the suffering of Jesus and wait to experience the joy of His resurrection, let’s make use of this opportunity to confess, to come back Home, to meet the life-transforming, costly love of God . . . freely given to us every time we ask for it.

God Bless!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Grazie Benedetto!!

28th Feb, 2013: The world witnessed something it hasn’t witnessed in more than six centuries – resignation of a Pope. A couple of weeks ago, I was in office, when I first saw the news flash showing the then Pope Benedict XVI expressing his desire to resign. Like most of the world, I wasn’t even sure then that a Pope could resign! I was slightly surprised, but it didn’t have a major impact on me. But on 28th Feb, as I saw him leave the Vatican, fly out to Castel Gandolfo, giving his last public address as the 265th Pope, I felt a deep sense of loss, a slight sorrow and great respect for the then Pope Benedict XVI.

In the almost eight years that he was the Pope, he inspired many across the globe, including me. I thought of sharing three of his quotes which touched me the most.

“Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist.” – 18th August 2005, World Youth Day, Cologne.

“Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.” – 17th September 2010, London

“May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives" – 28th February 2013, last tweet of Pope Benedict XVI. 

Thank you for your love and sacrifice and for your service to the Church, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

As the seat lies vacant (Sede vacante), lets pray for the next Pope who will carry on the tradition that Christ himself established when He made Peter, the rock on which He would build the Church, the first Pope.

Jesus said, "And now I say to you: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church; and never will the power of death overcome it."  - Matthew 16:18.

God Bless!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Greatest Love!!

"You are mine."A
"I’ll be with you." B
"I’ll give up whole nations for you, because you are precious to me and because I love you."C
"Nothing can separate you from my love."D

Valentine’s day just got over and you must be thinking that I’ve picked up these words from some love letter or some romantic movie or some poem. Don’t be surprised if I tell you that these words are from the Bible. Who says these words? Almighty God! And to whom does He say this? To you and me!!

In my last post I wrote about love being the greatest thing. And through this one, I wanted to share with you what is the GREATEST LOVE!

Ever since I came to know God in a deeper way, I realized that for Him it’s all about Love!

God created us out of free and unselfish love.E It was He who formed our inmost part and knit us together in our mother’s womb.F He says, “Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. I have written your name on the palm of my hands.G Out of love, He gave us freedom and free will. He said, “Today I’m giving you a choice between good and evil, between life and death.”H And out of love He asked us to choose life, that we may live loving Him, listening to His voice, being one with Him.I But we made our own choices. All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going our own way.J But still God said, “I’ve loved you with an everlasting love.”K “Though the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love will not depart from you.”L In spite of that, we didn’t realize His love for us. He sent prophets who spoke on His behalf; He worked miracles to help us realize how much He loved us, but we never paid attention. We had eyes, but we didn’t see; we had ears but didn’t hear.M However, God didn’t stop. He gave us the biggest gift.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life.N And this Son, Jesus Christ, was born among us humans, lived a life like that of a mere mortal, went from village to village, town to town, performing miracles, preaching and practicing God’s love; asking us to love one another.O He said, “I love you just as the Father loves me, remain in my love.”P And then, He told, what THE GREATEST LOVE is. “THE GREATEST LOVE a person can have for his friends, is to give his life for them. And you are my friends.”Q He being God, didn’t refer to us as mortals or slaves or followers or devotees. He called us friends! And for His friends, He laid down His life. He was arrested and sentenced and led off to die, and no one cared about his fate. He was put to death for the sins of people. He was placed in a grave with evil men, even though he had never committed a crime or ever told a lie.R

But His love for us was so great, that death couldn’t stop Him, the grave couldn’t hold Him. The third day He rose up from the dead and He promised us that His love will never leave us. He said, “I am with you always until the end of this world.”And He is faithful to His promises.

As I write this, it’s not that I had realized and reciprocated God’s love since I was born. From the time I remember, I grew up asking a question, “Why me??” I had a troubled childhood, raised up in a broken family. As I grew up I was haunted by loneliness, suffered from lack of self esteem, self respect, self confidence.  Church and God seemed irrelevant to me, distant from my life. I soon graduated to addictions, leading a filthy life, becoming selfish, pessimistic, self centred. Though from outside I was happy, free and content; I was hollow within. I used to go to church now and then, but in reality I was running away from God. However, I couldn’t go far. Almost ten years ago, God caught up with me. He started speaking to me, helping me understand His immense love for me, and showing how even in my darkest hours He was with me, standing by my side showering His love for me. I realized that someone loved me so much that He even died for me on the cross.  I realized and experienced what GREATEST LOVE is. Today, I know that no matter what happens, God loves me as a loving Father and His love is the source of my joy, peace and strength.

This day, lets pray that we may understand how broad and long, how high and deep is the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge.U May we experience His love which is with us every moment of our life.

God Bless!

Please find the references to the quotes in bold.
A. Isaiah 43:1, B. Exodus 3:12. C. Isaiah 43:4. D. Romans 8:38, E. Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church – 1 and CCC 1-3, F. Psalm 139:13, G. Isaiah 49:15&16, H. Deuteronomy 30:15, I. Deuteronomy 30: 19&20, J. Isaiah 53:6, K. Jeremiah 31:3, L. Isaiah 54:10, M. Ezekiel 12:2, N. John 3:16, O. John15:17, P. John 15:9, Q. John 15:13, R. Isaiah 53:8&9, S. Matthew 28:20, T. Psalm 145:13, U. Ephesians 3:18,19

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Greatest Thing: Love!!

A few weeks ago, while browsing through YouTube, I came across the thumbnail of a video in the trending videos section. It was posted by The New York Times, was almost 12 mins long and looked like it had something to do with Physics, lecture, classroom etc. I thought it would be something boring and decided not to watch it. Within a couple of days, I saw the number of hits shoot up and my curiosity took over. I saw the video and I’m glad I did. Thought of sharing the video with you. Please have a look at it.

I was touched by the video and especially the part where the Professor so emphatically says that the greatest thing is Love. Bible also mentions the same. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul writes: 

“Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. It is not ill-mannered, nor does it seek its own interest. Love overcomes anger and forgets offences. It does not take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love will never end........ Now we have faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”  (1 Cor 13:4 – 13)

This is the best definition of love that I've ever come across. However, today, thanks to a good friend and guide, I asked myself the question: what does love mean to me? Personally, I think love is also about sacrifice, it's about letting go of one's desire, likes, interests, priorities for the other's. I have experienced it through my Mom who let go of her career, her ambition, her likes so that I could have a good life. I've experienced it through my sister, my family, through my friends. And through God, who gave the biggest sacrifice. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life.  (John 3:16)

That's what the greatest thing - Love, means to me. What does it mean to you?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

They said, "Yes"!

Today, the parish I moved into recently, celebrated its feast day! The celebration, which included many accepting their first Holy Communion and Confirmation, was grand, with hundreds of people, many Sisters and Fathers and the Archbishop attending it. However, one important person, who played a major role in preparing for the celebration was missing – our Parish Priest. Yesterday evening, during the Mass we were asked to pray for the soul of our Parish Priest’s mother who passed away early that morning. He left for his hometown hundreds of miles away to attend the final rites. He had mentioned to us about the deteriorating health of his mother earlier, but instead of being by her side he chose to serve the Church, he chose to serve the people. And today, as we enjoyed the fellowship meal, the one who worked tirelessly in arranging the entire event was away, grieving and praying.

This incident reminded me of the sacrifice made by numerous priests and religious for the love of God and people. Father Damien was one such priest. He volunteered to go to the island of Molokai, Hawaii where hundreds of lepers where exiled to prevent the spread of the disease which was then thought to be highly contagious. They were left there to suffer and die by themselves. But Father Damien reached out to them, helped them, nursed them, served them, worked with them, prayed for them. He later contracted leprosy himself, but he continued to work for them and their welfare till his death. I was also reminded about a French movie I saw a couple of months ago – “Of Gods and of Men”. It depicted the lives of seven monks who lived in Algeria, and in spite of the looming danger of death by militants, they continued to help and be a support to the people around them. They were kidnapped and after two months, found dead. These are just a few among hundreds and thousands of priests and religious across the world, spread over centuries who left everything they had to be dedicated to God and people. Many of their stories may not be as well-known as these, but the sacrifice of each one of them is as precious and valued.

As I write this, I’m aware of the various allegations and court trails going on right now. I’m not oblivious of the fact that many have been found wanting. I myself, have across some not so good experiences. And that’s when I realize that the person behind the cassock is as human as I am, has the same weaknesses that I have, goes through the same feelings and emotions, but has made a sacrifice that I can never imagine. He has left his family, friends, home, money, possessions, everything to be a wanderer, to move from one place to another not knowing where he will go next, to be with people who are most of the times ignorant, irresponsive, thankless, inconsiderate; working tirelessly for something that is not going to help him in any way ever. I can never imagine doing that. And for that, I respect them.

The names and faces keep changing, but there has been numerous occasions when a priest has touched my life. He was there when I first entered into a church and I know he’ll be there when I will be carried out for the last time. He came to my home every year to bless it and also when we wanted his help to tide over our family issues. He was the one who helped me realize how much God loves me; he was there to listen to my darkest confession when his hands became wet with the tears that rolled down my cheeks; he raised his hands to absolve me, he laid his hands on my head to bless me; he gave me a place to stay when I had none; he was there to pray for me, to guide me, to challenge me to follow God; he was there to offer Mass for me every morning, to make me be able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ each and every day. It was through him that I saw God, heard God’s words, experienced God’s love and still do

When many of us can’t live without our family and friends, when many of us can’t live a life of uncertainty, when many of us are busy planning our own ambitious life ahead, when many of us can’t imagine to live a life of obedience, poverty and chastity, when many of us didn’t hear, want to hear or answer God’s call, they said “Yes”!!!! That's courage! Something that I and many of us reading can never do. Lets respect all the priests, nuns, Brothers and religious and pray for them.

Jesus said, “For those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or property for my name’s sake, they will receive a hundredfold and be given eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

God Bless!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The "Shrek Song" - Hallelujah!

A few weeks back, I, along with my friends went to watch the now Oscar nominated movie: Wreck-It Ralph. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, so much so that when it got over we clapped along with others in the movie hall.  That night I was reminded of one of my favourite animated movies – Shrek, and particularly one of the songs of the movie titled “Hallelujah”. In no time I was searching for it on YouTube and over the next few days kept on listening to version after version of the song over and over again. The song written by Leonard Cohen, has been performed by numerous artists across the globe including himself, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, JustinTimberlake, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, K D Lang, the Norwegian quartet....... Below is the video of the song sung by K D Lang during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

I was mesmerized by the song. As I listened to it repeatedly, I started paying attention to the lyrics (click here for lyrics) and was stunned at the deep meaning it had. The word “Hallelujah” means “Praise Yahweh” or “Praise God” and I always used to associate this word with joyful thanksgiving, something you would say when you are happy and content. But this song brings out other types of Hallelujahs: cold, lonely, broken Hallelujahs. It tells about the lives of King David and Samson who were so close to God, but in their moment of weakness, they gave into temptation, abandoned the God whom they loved so much, committed adultery and murder. From their depths, in their weaknesses and sorrow they cried out “Hallelujah!” It showed me that we can and should praise God in all situations no matter how bad it is. The last few verses of the song put it together so well:

“And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”

A couple of days back I came across an e-mail sent by one of my friend’s friend. The mail started with the words “Praise be to Jesus and Mary”. As I read, I was stunned at what this young guy had to share. He wrote about how hard these last couple of weeks have been for him and his family, how his father was admitted with multiple complications, how his health deteriorated and how his father breathed his last while he was at the airport on his way back home. He wasn’t able to see his father alive. I was shocked at how someone who has gone through such a personal crisis, such a huge loss could start his mail by praising God!!

It’s so easy to thank and praise God when everything in our life is going on well, when we get what we ask, when all our prayers are answered, when we have no problems or issues. But we are called to praise Him not just then, but even when we are irritated or disturbed or disappointed or sad, when things do not go according to our plans, when whatever we do ends up in a failure, when we are facing problems after problems and don’t see a way out, when everyone around us has abandoned us, when we struggle to make our ends meet, when none of our prayers get answered, when we feel lost, betrayed and alone, when we can’t make sense of what’s happening around us, when we lose a loved one, when we are plagued by diseases, pain and suffering. It’s in moments like these that we should praise God, sing Hallelujah and realise that “Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without an answer, but do not despair; persecuted not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9). Because our God is the God of impossibles, who is by our side every second of our lives and because of whose love for us we can confidently say:

“God is our strength and protection,
an ever-present help in affliction.
We will not fear, therefore,
though the earth be shaken,
and the mountains plunge into the seas,
though its waters foam and roar,
though the mountains quake and totter.
For the Lord of hosts is with us,
the God of Jacob, is our stronghold.”
(Psalm 46:2-4)

Hallelujah! God Bless!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Doomsday" Revelation!

What do you do when you know that the world is coming to end? You must be wondering why am I asking you this question now. 21st Dec, 2012 - the doomsday - has come and gone. I’m bringing it up because that day I stumbled across a realization which took me by surprise.

So, I come back to the same question. What do you do when you know that the world is coming to an end? Do all that you ever wanted to do, go on a shopping, eating, drinking spree; visit places you've always dreamt about, catch up with your old friends, spend time with family, mend broken relations, pray for the next life....... Well to my surprise, when I went to church that day I found a long line of people waiting to confess their sins. And guess what? I was one among them! However, I hadn't planned it. I didn't even realize it was 21st Dec till I came back home. I went to attend the morning Mass and after the Mass I felt the strong urge to confess. As I prepared myself for confession, as I made my way towards the confessional, as I knelt down, the power of seven words which I was about to say took be my surprise. I was overwhelmed when I said, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

That’s a prayer, we say every time we begin our confession. But that day it made me think. Isn't there something wrong in that sentence? Why “Bless me, Father”? Shouldn't it be “Have mercy on me, Father” or “Please forgive me, Father” or “Spare me, Father” or “Please don’t punish me, Father”. Instead of asking for blessings, shouldn't we be scared, afraid, guilty to approach the Almighty God, against whom we have sinned? I remember, during my childhood, after fighting with my sister, I was so scared that she would complaint to my mother about what I did. I saw the same with my nephew who is petrified when we tell him that we are going to tell his dad about his mischief. Don’t we feel the same when we have to face our boss after messing up at work? But instead of approaching God with guilt, fearing His rebuke and punishment and pleading with Him for forgiveness, He gives us an opportunity to approach Him with confidence, with love and ask for His blessings and grace irrespective of what we did.

For God, our loving Father, it doesn't matter if we are liars, drunkards, murderers, prostitutes; it doesn't matter if we are addicted to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, pornography; it doesn't matter if we have been a bad, mean person; it doesn't matter if we were thankless, jealous, deceitful; it doesn't matter if we didn't support human life; it doesn't matter if we never bothered about Him, if we ran away from Him, forgot Him, disobeyed Him,questioned or denied His existence, it doesn't matter if we are the greatest sinner in the world, as long as we go back to Him, stand in front of Him, repent and say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” Then He would embrace us and fill us with His love which knows no limit, His peace which is beyond our understanding, His joy which gives us strength and His hope which never fades.

That morning when I came back from the confessional, I felt as if a heavy weight was off my chest. And as I knelt before the crucifix, I could feel His love envelope me. I felt humbled before Him, humbled by the power of seven words – “Bless me Father, for I have sinned”, humbled by the power of His love and forgiveness.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; .... He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love  ....; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.” (Psalms 103:8-12)

God Bless!