Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Divine Presence in the Mountians, Fr.Joby Vc

DIVINE PRESENCE ON MOUNTAIN
Fr.Joby kachappilly VC, jobichanvc@gmail.com

According to the Bible, going to the mountain in quest of God is an important act of pilgrimage. The Bible depicts mountains as venues of God’s blessings and as symbols of His presence. The Sinai Mountain and the Sion Mountain had been considered as spheres of divine presence by the Jews (Exo. 19:3; 24,16). In a similar way we can also see in the Bible how the mountains become avenues where scenes of excruciating pain and spiritual upheavals are enacted. It is when we look at the mountains in a contemplative strain of mind that we are able to comprehend the divine schemes and spiritual revelations contained in them. Jesus had a special love and affinity for the mountains. Apart from mere geographical and topographical considerations, Jesus must have chosen the mountains for prayers and adoration because of his realization that mountains had the unending treasures of divine graces (Mt. 14:232, Mk. 6:46; Lk. 6:12). How gracefully and courageously does he carry out the will of his Father even amidst the spiritual upheavals on the Mountain of Olives and amidst the passion and suffering on the Golgotha Mountain! If we take the pains to ascertain on which mountain we are, it will go a long way in helping us in finding the love of God and living a life of repentance. When we view our problems from the heights of the divine graces, our life will transform itself into a sea of divine blessings.

THE HOREB MOUNTAIN

The Bible says that Moses reached the Horeb mountains somehow as he was grazing the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro. It is quite possible that Moses reached Horeb, the mountain of God, after losing his way. Moses must have cursed his mistaken journey. But it was when he was trying to find the way back that he received the greatest blessings of his life. It was here that Moses had the God-experience. It was during this derailed journey that Moses was chosen by God and revealed Himself to Moses (Exo 3:1-12).

SPIRITUAL THOUGHT: Nothing happens in life accidentally. Behind everything God has big plans. I have seen many people who wonder if they had chosen their vocation rightly. Behind the mistaken journey of Moses, God had a wonderful plan. God wanted Moses to be his own man, his own prophet. When buffeted by the trials and tribulations of life, when caught in the eddying whirlpools of problems, don’t get panicky and flustered. It is possible that you have come to your Horeb through the deceit of people who hoodwinked you. But don’t give up hope. God would want to talk to you here. In the Horeb Mountain God performs many miracles. It was in the Horeb Mountain that God made Moses strike the rock for water to gush out to quench the thirst of the parched throats of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness (Exo. 17:6). It was in this Mountain that God made his Covenant with the Israelites and gave them the Ten Commandments (Deut 9:9-10). I was in the cave of the Horeb Mountain that Prophet Elijah heard the voice of God (1 King 19:8-10). Horeb Mountain is symbolic of many of our bitter experiences of life and its gross trials and tribulations. When pitched on this Mountain of pain and distress, if you look into the face of God, like Moses, and adore him, miracles will happen in a way beyond any reason or rhyme. Otherwise the Horeb Mountain could prove to be your undoing, leading you to sin and despair (Deut. 9:8; Ps. 106:19-20).

2. MORIAH MOUNTAIN

Moriah Mountain is the symbol of suffering and trials. The Bible tells us that God tested the loyalty of Abraham on the Moriah Mountain (Gen. 22:2). God told Abraham, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you” (Gen 22:2). Later God calls Abraham and establishes his covenant of blessings on this very mountain which was moistened by the bitter tears of Abraham.

SPIRITUAL THOUGHT: Moriah Mountain is the symbol of life’s sufferings. In the same way God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering, we too are often asked to part with things and persons that we have been holding close to our bosoms. The famous thinker Louis Evly puts it in a beautiful manner: Good puts his hands into the pockets of those whom he loves. He takes whatever he feels like taking away. God loved Abraham. He put his hands into Abraham’s pockets and what he found there was Isaac. So God asks Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. It was a time when Abraham’s eyes were moist with tears. If you have a Moriah mountain in your life on which you have lost your favored ones and favorite things, don’t plunge into the mire of despair. On this very mountain of tears, God has kept his covenant of blessings in store for you and for your family, even for generations to come. When you are called upon to sacrifice things like health, children, wealth, job, linkings and relations, be willing to do it with a ready heart. The blessings of God will come as a result of the willingness to make such sacrifices. God will see your tears, not a single drop of it will go unnoticed. Believe firmly that those who are willing to wait hopefully after losing everything on the Moriah of life will be blessed sevenfold by the Omniscient Almighty. “The Lord will provide, as it is said to this day. ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided”. (Gen 22:14).

MOUNT CARMEL

This is the mount on which there was test of strength between Elijah the Prophet of God and the priests of Baal, the symbol of evil (1 Kings 18:19). In this period of tension, God is not at all pleased with the sacrifice offered to Baal at the behest of Ahab. “They rayed on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response” (1 Kings 18:29). But God was pleased with the sacrifice offered by Elijah and He sent the fire down to consume the offering. Elijah thus is made triumphant overcoming evil (1 Kings 18:36-38).

SPIRITUAL THOUGHT: Mount Carmel is the symbol of spiritual struggle. There may be Ahabs around us who ridicule and discourage men of God when they are doing service truthfully and faithfully. They may try to maim and murder. But we have to struggle against evil without any compromise. When we try to please Ahabs for some momentary pleasure or gain, remember that we are sidetracking, and cheating God. Mount Carmel gives us the message to be steadfast in our struggle and not to slide into addictions and superstitions, even if we are bruised and lacerated when fighting for the cause of God. In the struggle against evil the ultimate triumph is for the warriors of God, who is present on Mount Carmel of life’s struggles. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory” (Zeph 3:17). Have faith in the promise “The God in heaven is the one who will give us success” (Nehe 2:20). It was to Mount Carmel Elisha repaired when he was ridiculed and rejected (1 Kings 2:25). Face the Ahabs that come to upset the graces God has prepared for us on Mount Carmel wielding the weapon of the Word.

THE MOUNTAIN OF OLIVES

The excruciatingly distressful agitation that Jesus experienced in his heart is indescribable as he was going to Gethsemane in the Olive Mountain. He shares his grief with his dear disciples with a tinge of tearful regret, “I am deeply grieved, even to death… And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed” (Mk. 14:34-35). Not only that, it was here that the Jewish soldiers and their cohorts arrested Jesus (Mt 26:30). When Jesus was writhing in mental agony and sighing with grief in Gethsemane, there was nobody to comfort and console him. All the people accompanying him had forgotten about the Bread of Life after satisfying their hunger with the bread he had given them. In that frightening night whose mind would not be distressed facing death, especially when those he nourished, betray him and deny him!

SPIRITUAL THOUGHT: Aren’t the experiences at the Gethsemane akin to our own life story? If you have stories of deceit by those you loved, stories of denial by those you trusted and stories of betrayal by those you cherished, do not abandon God on this mountain. Open your heart to pray like Jesus, even sweating blood, to be close with the Father. God will definitely send you his angels to soothe and comfort you. Do not cast away the bitter cups of pain and suffering that God gives you. Jesus taught us to hold them in our hands and pray giving thanks to God. He did the same. “When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”. (Mk. 14:26). At the end of his passion and suffering, Jesus ascended into heaven in the background of the Mountain of Olives. The lives that pass through the tearful experiences of the Mountain of Olives will definitely be raised by the Lord in due course.

4.THE MOUNTAIN OF GOLGOTHA


This is also called the Calvary Hills. It is here that the historical event of Christ’s crucifixion took place. For comforting those in pain, for giving food to the hungry, for healing the sick, the world rewarded him with the cross. “There they crucified him” (J. 19:18). Even in the midst of his grievous suffering, we find one of the criminals cursing himself and ridiculing Jesus (Lk 23:39). We also find another criminal who, looking at the divine face of Jesus, makes his death, blessed by thoughts of heaven (Lk. 23:40-43). The scene describing Jesus lying on the cross writhing in pain, but forgiving those who caused in this agony and praying for them, and commending his spirit to the Father, is heart-rending (Lk. 23:34-36).


SPIRITUAL THOUGHT: There are many people who complain why they are made to suffer although they do no harm to others but do only good. When we live in despair, unwilling to take up our crosses, we are mindlessly, thoughtlessly, casting off the schemes of God When we are willing to accept the sufferings from the hands of God, love them, and commend them for the transformation of many others, our Calvary Hill will become an altar of divine blessings. When you are hunted from pillar to post by troubles in the form of diseases financial crunches and family problems, do not make haste to curse the Calvary. Just like God saved everyone through the passion and suffering of Jesus shedding tears in Calvary, through your suffering, God wants to save many others. He has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well” (Phil. 1:29).

CONCLUSION

The spiritual message imparted by the Mountains is that we should not get worried and flustered about whatever mountain we happen to see ourselves on. In the journey of life, many of our family members might have reached different sorts of mountains. The husband may be on the tearful Mountain of Olives and the wife may find herself on the Calvary Mount of suffering. The Carmel Mount of spiritual upheavals and the Moriah Mount of losses and sacrifices may have been our lot. Instead of fondly wishing the mountains to go away learn to love God even while standing on the precarious pernicious perches. There even at the dizzying heights there is the presence of God. “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord” (1 Kings 19:11). There is God on your mount. Know that God is going to work some miracles for you. If you are to get blessings and God-experience on the mounts, you should be willing to change your attitudes. When your heart burns with the love for the Lord of hosts, the presence of the Lord will be felt and the kindling fire of Lord’s love will descend on you.

Gains and Loses of Life, Fr.Joby Kachappilly VC

THE LOSSES AND GAINS OF LIFE
Fr.Joby Kachappilly VC, jobichanvc@gmail.com

I was celebrating Holy Eucharist in a retreat for the elderly. During the Holy Mass, just before giving the message of the word of God, I asked the participants., “What are the troubles and pains that bother you at this time of your life?” People had different answers. Some mentioned lack of health; for others it was the lack of love from children; for a few it was the feeling that they were not wanted. They shared many other similar painful experiences. When I examined the responses, I discovered a truth – that behind all their sorrows there was a sense of loss. Some of the enjoyments or blessings they had in the past were missing from their lives. Even as they complain about their problems, the basic fact is the sense of loss --- loss of health, eye-sight or the love of the children. Over and above the material or physical losses, what is the loss that a person must be worried about? It is the loss of the presence of Jesus, or the divine perspective and the spirituality connected with it. It is then that the person can overcome the sense of loss and other inconveniences.

The Holy Family, too, has a tale of loss to tell. Joseph, Mary and the Boy Jesus had gone to Jerusalem temple for the festival of the Passover. The Gospelist describes that the boy Jesus was lost on their way back (Lk. 2:41-52). The distraught parents looked for the child everywhere, but he was not found. With tears in their eyes, they returned to the Jerusalem Temple. Where will people in pain, in troubles and tribulations go except to the temple where there is the presence of the Lord? “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). When the gospelist testifies that child Jesus was found in the temple, the descriptions given bring us some spiritual thoughts. Many of us are also distraught because we feel that we have lost something in our lives. The disciples who were going to Emmaus were sad because they thought they lost Jesus (Lk 24:13-35). Losses, per se, do not constitute reasons for sorrow. Because, people who have had the same type of losses continue to live cheerfully. That means over and above the losses the feeling that one lost his spirituality and the presence of Jesus is what makes one sad. But realize this. All the lost things are found in the temple. This realization must guide one’s life into a fresh angle, a new perspective, of search.

WHAT ARE YOU SEEKING?

St. John records this as the first question that came out from the lips of Jesus, “What are you seeking?” (1:38). This is a very fundamental question. In our lives when we lose things one after the other, when our dreams shatter one by one, what should we truly be looking for? In the midst of the sorrow of losses, where should we seek a sheltering haven? Some people plunge headlong into alcohol and other addictions to compensate their losses, and compensate what has been lost. It is through Christ that we must look for all the lost things; it is through the churches where there is his presence. My people who are called by my name should seek my fact (2 Chr. 7:14). In the Gospel of John there is reference to the family whose wine gave out during the wedding feast at Cana. When there was the shortage, every one was looking for wine. But Mary did not look for wine, she sought Jesus (Jn. 2:3). The gospelist records that then the family got wine jars filled to the brim and overflowing. Jesus says, “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 6:33).

THEY RETURNED TO JERUSALEM

It is some of the fundamental stances and decisions that one takes in the midst of crises that determine his future. Caught amidst ups and downs, the ebb and flow of tides, one’s negative stances may cost him the fortunes that the Lord had intended to give him. The Bible says that the prodigal son, who realized that he had lost the spirituality as he got caught in the giddying whirlpools of worldly pleasures, blinded by the glitz, glitter and glamour, returned to his father’s home (Lk. 15:18). Some return journeys become essential to receive divine graces and blessings, and to get back the anointing and God-experience that got lost along the way somewhere. “For just as you were disposed to go astray from God, return with tenfold zeal to seek him” (Bar 4:28). Mary and Joseph were ready for the return journey to seek their lost boy Lk. 2:45). These quotations should lead us to some insights and revelations about our lives. Where was I heading for all my life? Only when we are ready for some return journeys we will be able to see the Savior and experience salvation.

THEY WERE ASTONISHED

The Bible says that “When his parents saw him they were astonished” (Lk. 2:48). Those who lose things that they considered their own as losses will not have colourful visions or surprises and wonders. Realize that whatever is lost is a gift from above. When one laments the loss of his health, the loss of his children’s love, the sharing of his property among the children, he is viewing them as losses at the rational level. In reality, if he considers them with a positive frame of mind, he will see some kind of spirituality underlying all these ‘losses’. Today’s losses are the inevitable results of the strenuous work and sacrifices one made for those whom one considered ones own. The losses and pains that one counters today are testimonies that they have divided and given away their lives to make others happy and fruitful. When Jesus is seen at the background of everything, life will be full of astonishments, surprises. When we consider the losses as the contribution we made for gaining certain things and creating new things, there will be indescribable joy in our minds and astonishment is the resultant emotion. We are not to be guided by the computations of our losses. On the contrary our losses are the souvenirs of the commendable things we have striven for and achieved. If one can think in such positive terms, we will see that our life too is full of exquisite frames of light and sound and that it is an exquisite saga of astonishing experiences.


TREASURED ALL THESE THINGS IN THE HEART

Once a man approached me asking me to pray for him as he wanted to find the reason for the problems he was encountering. Then I told him, “Instead of trying to find the reasons for the problems, pray so that the problems themselves go away from your life. Then there would be no relevance to the reasons.” Everybody seems to have the temptation of asking questions and look at life in a critical way when some reckonings go awry and one is hunted from pillar to post by crises and losses. At the end of all searches and discoveries, all the inexplicable things should be treasured in the mind following the model of St. Mary and it should become a spiritual life style (Lk. 2:51). In such a case even in the midst of all sufferings and losses, life becomes radiant like the rainbow.

TO KEEP IN MIND

Meditate, looking into the face of God and not on losses. Life will become a festival.
Amidst all your searches (wealth, joy, material gains), let there be the presence of Jesus, the Nazarene.
Consider each loss as an invitation God gives you for your return journey home.
Do not forget that at the end of all pains and losses, there is an astonishing sight of discovery and restoration awaiting you.