Silent night

The true celebration of CHRISTMAS is an invitation to “inner silence”, where we learn to live with opposites.
A Jewish Rabbi, teaching the Talmud to a group of students, asked them what they saw on the page.  All said that they saw the “words ” on it.  None of them had noticed the “white spaces that separated the words”.  Were it not for these spaces, the words would become unintelligible.  What is more, he pointed out, these spaces formed the background and the context I which what was written could be understood.
Christmas paintingGod has been described as a sphere whose circumference is everywhere, but whose centre is nowhere.  We are enfolded by the Spirit and it is the context in which we live our daily lives.  Most of the time, however, our activities are so closely juxtaposed, that like words not separated by spaces in between them, they seem meaningless.  Our proximity to one another as we jostle for space in public transport systems only ends up as our being a juxtaposition of solitudes.
Social networking affords us the opportunity not only to be more connected to others, but more disconnected from the core of our being.  For those who still, somehow, manage to make the time, the spiritual becomes an ‘add-on’ that often fails to load since the basic operating system is out of sync and out of date.
The “spiritual” is embedded in our collective subconscious.  The Christmas story is about our being awakened to its presence, like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi, who are characterised by their state of wakefulness.
Individuals have always been conscious of the presence of the Divine.  The history of religions reveals that there has been a progressive deepening in the understanding of God’s presence.  It has evolved from God’s presence in nature, controlling its various elements and reflecting his glory in creation to a localised presence in temples of worship.  The celebration of Christmas draws our attention to the fact that God is not only with us but also within us.  We do not have to ‘go into his presence’.  The outward journey to places of worship and pilgrimages to holy place are meant to direct us to the journey inwards where we experience his real presence with us.  It becomes the source, meaning and purpose of everything we say, everything we do.  God is the context in which we live our lives.  The written word begins its existence only when it is placed on a page.  It owes its being to the space that surrounds it.
Creation is the revelation of God’s silence —— the space between the words ——- in which his presence is felt and experienced.  The poet Kabir laughed when he was told that the fish in the ocean were thirsty.  We often thirst for God’s presence, unaware that we are surrounded by it.
Contrary to what we might expect, the true celebration of Christmas is an invitation  to inner silence.  It is a silence in which we recognise our connectedness by being enfolded within it.  The journey into the world of silence is a journey that takes us back from the world of dissipation into wholeness.
By its very nature silence cannot be exploited.  The power of silence is its ability to mediate the irreconcilable.  In the realm of silence, irreconcilable differences can co-exist without tension, because silence is non-judgemental, and differences travel toward one another with no need to swallow or disintegrate or demolish each other.  Silence frees us from the expectation that we can understand and resolve the myriad irreconcilable elements of existence.  Journeying into the ‘womb of silence” in meditation, we discover the capacity for co-existence : we learn to live with opposites.
May the silence of that first Christmas night be the harbinger of peace on earth to all people of goodwill.
————– CHRISTOPHER MENDONCA (Speaking Tree)
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God’s way is best

The polyps which construct the coral reefs, work away under water, never dreaming that they are building the foundation of a new island on which, by-and-by, plants and animals will live and children be born and fitted for eternal glory.
If your place in God’s ranks is a hidden and secluded one, do not murmur, do not complain, do not seek to get out of God’s will, if He has placed you there, for without the polyps, the coral reefs would never be built, and God needs some who are willing to be spiritual polyps, and work away out of sight of men, but in full view of Heaven.

Gods way


The day will come when God will give the rewards, and He makes no mistakes, although some people may wonder how you came to merit such a reward, as they had never heard of you before.

Just where you stand in the conflict
There is your place
Just where you think you are useless
Hide not your face
God placed you there for a purpose
Whatever it be
Think He has chosen you for it
Work loyally.
Gird on your armour ! Be faithful
At toil or rest
Whatever it e, never doubting
GOD’s WAY IS BEST
Out in the fight or on picket
Stand firm and true
This is the work which your Master
Gives you to do.
Safely we may leave the crowded meeting, the inspiring mountain top, the helpful fellowship of men and betake ourselves to our dim homely Emmaus, or to our dread public Colossae, or even to our far Macedonia, quietly confident that just where He has placed us, in the usual round  of life, He ordains that the borderland may be possessed, the victory won.
—————Northcote Deck. 

Are you ready to forgive?

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As more than two billion people of the world observe today the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, there are different images of the journey of Jesus carrying his Cross with nails pierced through his hands and feet.  Though hanging criminals on the cross and leaving them to die was the Roman custom to punish serious offenders, the image of this “offender”, though ‘more sinned against’, now occupies a place of honour in all the churches around the world.

Crucification

So, why this paradox  Why the glorification of a man who died a criminal’s death in rather shameful conditions ?  To begin with, when we go through the records of the trial of Jesus before the governor Pilate, he tells the crowd that he found nothing against Jesus.  That was a fact.  The high priest, however, accused Jesus of blasphemy.  Finally, Pilate ruled in favour of Jesus’ crucifixion, as the gospel narratives tell us, more due to pressure from the crowd ( they wanted Barabbas, a criminal, released) than for any offence that could be legally proved.
Be that as it may, before Jesus was made to carry the Cross on which He would be crucified, a crown of thons was placed on his head.  He was ridiculed and called “King of the Jews”.  The soldiers leading Him to Mount Calvary spat upon Him and lashed Him every time He fell, they also ordered Simon of Cyrene to help Him in carrying the Cross, as Jesus was very weak and the Cross was heavy.

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When He reached Calvary, He was laid on the Cross and nails were driven in His hands and feet and the Cross was lifted on high and, with a heave was put into the hole that had been prepared beforehand.  How it must have shaken Him up !!  He felt abandoned by all, and cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani ? (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me ? )
Towards the end, He forgave those who had dealt with Him so brutally and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they have done”.  Thus Jesus, proclaimed the prayer of forgiveness, even for the men who had ill-treated Him.  That was in line with what he lived and died for.
ARE YOU READY TO FORGIVE ????? Really forgive and emulate Jesus’ concrete act of forgiving, not merely as a concept or thought, but in reality ???? Can He inspire us all to forgive ??
—— Father Dominic Emmanuel

Faith is a gift

Faith is a gift, which if not cherished or nurtured will be wasted.  Doubt, on the other hand, can sow seeds of fear which can give rise to hopelessness and lack of initiative.
If you have faith, as much as a mustard seed (tiny), you will be able to move mountains.  But doubt, can be a debilitating factor.  However, it is quite natural to be saddled by doubts at certain times in life.  But we must rise above and conquer these doubts.
Several iconic spiritual personalities have admitted to being assailed by doubts (even Saint Peter, when Christ asked him to come to Him walking on the sea).  Saint Thomas aka Doubting Thomas., was skeptical when he heard about the resurrection of Christ, until he saw the wounds of Christ with his own eyes.

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Unshakable faith comes to the rescue of believers in their darkest moments.  Abirama Bhattar, born Subramaniya Iyer, was a priest at the Abirami Temple at Thirukadaiyur in South India.  An ardent devotee of the Goddess, he would often be lost to the world, as he contemplated on the Goddess and visualised Her in his mind’s eye.  He was ridiculed and was even dubbed as mad by some of his peers.  One day the King of Tanjore —- Raja Serfoji, on a visit to the temple, decided to test Subramaniya Iyer and asked him what phase of the lunar month it was.  Although it was a new moon day, Subramaniya Iyer who had envisioned the Goddess’ moon-like face said it was a full moon day.  The King told him that if the moon did not come up that evening, he would be consigned to flames.  That is when Subramaniya Iyer composed the Abirami Anthathi extemporaneously.  As he did, a miracle occurred, and, legend has it that the Goddess threw her nose-ring into the sky and created a full moon.  The power of faith literally gave the devotee the moon.
Legendary sportsmen have often talked about conquering their doubts and fears through a never-say-die spirit and a mind-over-matter approach which stands one in good stead on the spiritual path too.
Life itself is an act of faith.  When you find your faith at low ebb ———- reading the scriptures, keeping the company of evolved souls, listening to edifying discourses and drawing strength from the miracles in your life can help to strengthen it.  Feed your faith, and your doubts will begin to die.
———— Sudha Umashanker.

Launch out into the deep

Launch out into the deep (Luke 5:4)  How deep he does not say.  The depth into which we launch will depend upon how perfectly we have given up the shore, and the greatness of our need, and the apprehension of our possibilities.  The fish were to be found in the deep —– not in the shallow water.
So with us, our needs are to be met in the deep things of God.  We are to launch out into the deep of God’s Word, which can open up to us such crystal fathomless meaning that the same words we have accepted in times past will have an ocean meaning in them, which renders their first meaning to us very shallow.
How-God-Helps-You-with-Impossible-SituationsInto the deep of God’s Word, that it becomes an omnipotent balm and food and medicine for the soul and body.  Into the deep, until it becomes a bright. dazzling, sweet, fathomless summer sea, in which we bathe and bask and breathe, and lose ourselves and our sorrows in the calmness and peace of God’s everlasting presence.  Into the deep, until we apprehend it in its infinite minuteness and goodness, and its far-sweeping provision and care for us.
Into the deep, until He becomes a bright, marvellous answer to prayer, the most careful and tender guidance, the most thoughtful anticipation of our needs, the most accurate and supernatural shaping of our events.  Into the deep of God’s purposes, until the mental eye is dazed with light, and the heart flutters with inexpressible anticipation of its joy.
Into all of these things God bids us launch.  He made us and He made the deep, and to its fathomless depths He has fitted our longings and capabilities.
Its streams the whole creation reach
So plenteous is the store
Enough for all, enough for each
Enough forevermore.
Joseph_Anton_Koch_006The deep water of the Spirit are always accessible, because they are always proceeding.  Will you not this day claim afresh to be immersed and drenched in these waters of life ?  The waters in Ezekiel’s vision first of oozed from under the doors of the temple.  Then the man with the measuring line measured and found the waters to the ankles.  Still further measurement, and there was water to the knees, and again to the loins.  Then they became waters to swim in —— a river that could not be crossed over.
How far have we advanced into this river of life ?  The Spirit would have a complete self-effacement.  Not merely ankle-deep, knee-deep, loin-deep ——- But self-deep.  We ourselves hidden out of sight and bathed in this life-giving stream.  Let go the shore-lines and LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP.

The gift of peace

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The first intimation of the FIRST CHRISTMAS by the heavenly hosts, when Mother Mary gave birth to her only beloved son — Jesus — in a stable, surrounded by cattle and fodder, was to the SHEPHERDS, minding their sheep in their fields.  They woke up by the flashing of lights and were told, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.  Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace and goodwill toward men.”
The one certain message, that was conveyed to all on earth, was that of PEACE & GOODWILL.  Jesus came into the world, to share God’s peace and love with everyone on earth.  That is why He is called the “PRINCE OF PEACE.”
The peace bequeath by Jesus is inseparable from His presence.  Christmas celebrations, often mistaken with material gifts that Santa Claus brings along, is really about God’s GIFT OF PEACE.  Only God can transform our selfish hearts and lives of conflict with GENEROSITY & PEACE. -Peace is God’s gift to us to be received, preserved and enjoyed on Earth.  No person can be at rest to the very roots of one’s being, in the absence of the consciousness that he is at peace with God.  And there can be no peace with God unless we are at peace with ourselves.  St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless O God, until they rest in Thee.”