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"Holiness is not the luxury of a few. It is everyone's duty: yours and mine."  ~Mother Teresa

Feast of the Holy Family

 

Feast of the Holy Family 2015

 

Feast of the Holy Family
P. Sebastian Vazhakala, M.C.


“Bring us to Jesus…”

Welcome.

Hearty welcome to all of you, dearly beloved Brothers and Sisters, to this annual celebration of the great event of God becoming man and coming to dwell among us. Shepherds were awake, animals were woken up, angels sang. “Gloria in excelsis Deo”. The good news of great joy was announced to the shepherds. Shepherds came in haste and found the baby (Jesus) lying among animals in the manger. They also saw Mary and Joseph who were immersed in contemplation as “Mary kept all these things in her heart (immaculate) and pondered over them” (Lk 2:19).

Since all of you are well informed of the Emmanuel story and well prepared for this day of Christmas, I would like to invite you to two of the important events of this year for us. The first one is the extraordinary year of mercy and the other is the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata M.C.

The extraordinary Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis began the year of Mercy on Tuesday 8 December 2015, by opening the holy door in St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by opening the holy door of St. John Lateran on Sunday 13 December, and the holy door of Charity in Via Marsala on Saturday 18th December, which is very unique and unprecedented. Prior to all these, on Sunday 29 November 2015, Pope Francis also opened the holy door in Bangui Cathedral, in Central African Republic’s capital. One of the novelties for the Jubilee of Mercy is that for the first time holy doors are opened in every diocese throughout the world.

All these opening of the doors of Basilicas and Cathedrals are meant to open the doors of our hearts and minds and the hearts and minds of every Christian to Christ. Let us open wide the doors of our hearts to Christ, let him enter, the King of glory!

This symbolic gesture invites every one to look into oneself with the divine torch of the Holy Spirit and may lead the faithful to the sacrament of confession, thereby the lives of the people may be renewed and re-oriented. This is a new era of metanoia. There is a summons to conversion, to renewal and to re-orientation of our lives in Christ Jesus.

Jesus’ command to be merciful as our Father in heaven is merciful (cf. Lk 6: 36) is our aim, our goal and our challenge. This is an ideal towards which we all are called to strive strenuously everyday. Which is easier for us, to be merciful or to be harsh and hard? How far are we from the ideal of being merciful as our Father in heaven is merciful?

Mercy in action:       Mercy and seven corporal works

                              Mercy and seven spiritual works

Mercy and Pride cannot go together, but Mercy and humility can.

Mercy and hatred cannot go together, but Mercy and charity can.

Mercy and ingratitude cannot go together, but Mercy and gratitude can.

Mercy and sadness cannot go together, but Mercy and joy can.

Mercy and indifference cannot go together.

Mercy and revenge cannot go together.

Mercy and retaliation cannot go together.

Mercy and violence and war cannot go together.

Mercy and peace are friends of God, the prince of peace (cf. Is 9:-6).

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy (cf. Mt 5: 7).

The canonization of Bl. Teresa M.C. and the renewal of the M.C. way of life.

Like the opening of the holy door makes sense only when one is open to reform and renewal, reconciliation and re-orientation, the same can be said of the canonization of Bl. Teresa M.C. and the renewal of our M.C. way of life. Let there be renewal, let there be reform, and let it begin with me. In order to have a real reform and renewal I must have a proper understanding of the M.C. spirit and the M.C. Charism. In a way it is easier for us to do this as we have the original text of the locutions and visions of Jesus to Bl. Teresa M.C., his “little spouse”, spouse of the crucified Jesus, as we have our poor people always with us and as we still have some of the first generation of the M.C.s still around.

As we know from Bl. Teresa M.C.’s own writing she had at least three visions, and from all the three visions we see the main message is to bring the crowds, the poor people in particular, to Jesus and carry Jesus to the crowd.

In the first vision it is the crowd that was asking her: “Come, come, save us, bring us to Jesus”. Bl. Teresa writes: “I saw a big crowd, all kinds of people, very poor and children were there also. They all had their hands lifted towards me, standing in their midst. They called out: Come, come, save us, bring us to Jesus.

In the second vision it was Our Lady who spoke: “Take care of them, they are mine, bring them to Jesus, carry Jesus to them. Fear not, teach them to pray the rosary, the family rosary, all will be well. Fear not, Jesus and I will be with you and with your children”.

Jesus finally from the Cross, in the presence of his Mother, in the midst of the crowd, said to Bl. Teresa, who was standing with our Lady facing the Cross: “I have asked you, they have asked you and she, My Mother, has asked you. Will you refuse to do this for me, to take care of them, to bring them to Me?”

In all the three visions we see the main message is to bring the crowds, the poor people in particular, to Jesus and carry Jesus to the crowd. Together with this is Jesus’ lament: “I have absolutely no one for my very poor”. Our M.C. vocation, life and mission are inseparable from the life of the poor. We are called to be poor and take care of the poor, who are God’s beloved ones, for whose sake he died on the Cross. The scene of Calvary is being repeated in this third and heart-renting scene and Jesus’ plea.

For the M.C. family this theme is vital, namely to save the poorest of the poor by bringing them to Jesus, who is our only Saviour. In the definition of the M.C. vocation, it is reflected: “Your vocation is to love and suffer and save souls”. This means we are not mere social workers!

None of us, not even our Lady by her own power can save souls. She too wants us to bring the poor people to Jesus. It is very interesting to note the words of our Lady to Bl. Teresa M.C.: “Take care of them, they are mine, bring them to Jesus”. Even though she says that the poor people are her possession, as we know that she herself was humble and poor, still she is not the saviour, but Jesus, her Son! Our Lady is the co-redeemer who was drowned in sorrow and, together with Jesus, gave her all to save souls: “We both gave our all to save souls”. The purpose of the incarnation is spelt out here. He came to save. He is Emmanuel, the Saviour who came into the world not to be its judge but to be its Saviour (cf. Jn 3:17).

With this all important theme, we take the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and reflect, examine and dwell on it. We take one from each group, i.e. the first month we take the first spiritual work of mercy and the first corporal work of mercy and how Jesus practiced it. The evangelists say that Jesus taught them at length and then, moved with compassion, he satisfied their hunger. By doing he was feeding the soul and the body.

He tried to remove the darkness of ignorance from the hearts and minds of the people. He taught them how to love, how to live, how to give and serve. Our hands are meant to serve and our hearts are meant to love and to be loved.

Misericordiae Vultus.

Interestingly enough the Holy Father, Pope Francis in his bull of Indiction, Misericordiae Vultus, of the extraordinary jubilee Year of Mercy, number 15, speaks of his “burning desire that the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy…” The holy Father wants us “to rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead”. Equally important are the spiritual works of mercy: “to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who offend us and pray for the living and the dead”.

Curiously enough the criteria upon which we will be judged on the last day is how we practiced these corporal and spiritual works of mercy during our earthly life. St. Mathew’s Gospel, chapter 25, we read the dramatic last judgement scene. It gives us practical guidelines for our life on earth. Jesus summarizes the works of mercy in few words by saying: “As long as you did to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to Me”.

This Gospel verse contains and expresses our entire life on earth. It spells out very clearly how we are going to be judged in the evening of our life when we appear before God. We should know that we are going to be judged on love, on how we fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, how we clothed the naked, how we welcomed the homeless and strangers, how we took care of the sick, how we visited the prisoners and befriended them.

Bl. Teresa M.C., our foundress and our Mother, not only taught so eloquently this Gospel passage of St. Mathew, but her whole life was a living exegesis of both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

It is therefore very vital for us to reflect much on these corporal and spiritual works of mercy in the context of Jesus in the Bread of life. We are called to recognize, love and serve Jesus in the poor, in the last, the least and the lost. Once again let us come back to St. Mathew’s Gospel, which magnifies the value of simple actions such as to give even a glass of cold water in Jesus’ name and for Jesus’ sake. The one who does such acts receive the reward (cf. Mt 10:42). In this context Bl. Teresa M.C. became a champion in the spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux, who only did ordinary things with extraordinary love within the confines of a convent. The merit of the work we do, therefore, does not depend on its kind and quantity, in how much or how big, but in the quality, in how much love there was in the doing.

Pope St. John Paul II writes: “If you learn to discover Jesus in the Bead of life, you will also learn to discover him in others, particularly in the very poor”. And “How could it be otherwise”, exhorts the document on Vita Consecrata, “since the Christ encountered in contemplation is the same who lives and suffers in the poor?” (V.C. 82).

Conclusion.

In this extraordinary year of mercy and in this year of the canonization of Bl. Teresa of Kolkata M.C. let us learn to discover and contemplate the sublime beauty of our Christian life and vocation. Let us love, appreciate and live our call within a call with greater commitment, joy and enthusiasm. Let our love never get tired of loving God in prayer and loving and serving him in one another, especially in our poor people, beginning with our own. Let there be love and charity and let it begin with me.

I wish each and every one of you a merry Christmas and a happy and peace-filled New Year 2016. May the good Lord bless and reward each and everyone of you for what you are and what you do for him and with him to any and everyone who is in need. May your charity and love never cease!

A mini calendar from Rome

 

30 Dec., Wednesday        5.00 p.m.- Solemn Mass presided over by his Eminence Cardinal Angelo

                                       Comastri, followed by supper together in Casa Serena.

   31 Dec. Thursday          Great Day of Thanksgiving for the year 2015.  “Who can tell the great things

                                       God has done? Who can thank him enough?”

5.00 p.m.                         Solemn Vespers

5.30 p.m.                         Holy Rosary, Te Deum, Benediction

11.30 p.m.-12.30 a.m.       Office of Readings, Te Deum, followed by the Joyful mysteries of the

                                       Rosary, benediction 

 

WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016

1.1.2016              Feast of Our Lady, Mother of God, Queen of peace and Mother of Mercy

06.01.2016           Epiphany

10.01.2016           Baptism of Jesus

12.01.2016          Annual retreat for the Governing Body for 8 days by Fr. John

20.01.2016          General Council meetings

27.01.2016           Rome-Accra

28.01.2016           Retreat for all our Brothers in Pankrono, Kumasi (Ghana) by Fr. John

07.02.2016           First profession in Yesu Fie, Pankrono, Kumasi

9.30 a.m.             Profession Mass in Pankrono parish, presided over by Rt. Rev. Peter Sarpong,

                           archbishop emeritus of Kumasi

10.02.2016           Ash Wednesday

 

Let us learn to give thanks to the Lord in prayer; let us also learn to give thanks to the Lord for each other, for our Society, for our poor people, especially the ones we take care of, for our LMCs, benefactors, volunteers and co-workers.

Love and prayers.

God bless you.