Are you ready to forgive?


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.


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.


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

Fast with a smile

lent-wordcloud_2Wednesday, the 18th of February marked the start of the season of Lent.  It was Ash Wednesday.  Currently, Christians are supposed to observe fasting and abstinence, in preparation for the greatest feast —–Easter.
“Fast foods” from McDonalds and KFC are fashionable.  Simultaneously, there’s a fad to “fast from foods”.  Fasting is “in”., especially among youth to downsize bloated bellies or develop hourglass figures.  Besides, many people fast with myriad motives —- religious, political and economic.
Most religious traditions stipulate some form of fasting.  Some Hindus fast monthly on Ekadasi, Pradosha or Purnima, while others fast weekly on specific days : Vaishnavites on Thursdays, Shaivites on Mondays and Ayyappa-devotees on Saturdays.  Muslims fast during Ramzan.
Nirjala-Ekadashi-Photo-1-9213Though fasting is commendable, it could induce a holier-than-thou attitude, when the one who is fasting expects admirers to exclaim, “Wow”.  When one’s fasting is directed outward for recognition, it loses merit.  Fasting is most meritorious when done for egoless motives, surrendering oneself totally to serve God, as a sign of penitence, to fortify one’s faith, as grateful acknowledgement of Mother Nature’s bounty are, in symbolic solidarity, with those who have little or nothing to eat.
The Bible berates those who fast while exploiting others.  Acts of love like setting the oppressed free, sharing food with the hungry and providing shelter to the homeless make fasting creditable.
gandhi-fastingWhen people fast to protest injustice, besides being “political”, fasting becomes a sacred duty, as in Gandhiji’s Satyagraha.  Linked to this is fasting’s economic dimension ——- the “forced fast” of millions of poor who have no money to buy food.  Why not donate what we save from our fasting towards filling their empty bellies ?
The Sanskrit “upvaas” for fasting draws the devotee to dwell in God’s presence and delight in God’s providence.  That is sufficient reason to be happy, isn’t it ?  And, if fasting decreases weight and waistline, THAT’S ADDED REASON TO SMILE.
—– Francis Gonsalves.   



JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS.  In Christian Theology, the CROSS is considered to be a SIGN OF CONTRADICTIONS.  It signified death by agonising humiliation and torture, it became a sign to be proud of because it implied Jesus’ obedience to God for the love of the world. there is a VERTICAL coming down from Heaven entering into Earth.  There is a HORIZONTAL, the HUMAN CROSSING THE DIVINE.  If you take away one of the parts, the CROSS DOES NOT EXIST.  The UNION of the two aspects —–HUMAN & DIVINE gives the Cross its POWER & SIGNIFICANCE. ————-Mother Claudia.

The PASSION FLOWER is believed to represent the CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST.

The Petals & Sepals——-HIS DISCIPLES ;

The Stamens—–HIS WOUNDS ;

The Pistil Stigma—–THE NAILS ; The Filaments—-THE CROWN OF THORNS———-Aadisht Grover—-Calcutta.

The eminent theologian, Jon Sobrino, pinpointing the essence of Christianity, said, NO CROSS, NO CHRISTIANITY.  He adds, “Preaching Christ’s message without His Cross is like eating soup with a fork”.  Holy Week started yesterday on PalmSunday ((13/4/2014) 

Jesus had once said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies it remains alone; but if it dies IT BEARS MUCH FRUIT “.  Unnoticed by us, the cosmos ceaselessly undergoes a silent death as caterpillars die to birth butterflies, as sown grains die to engender golden harvests and flowers droop and drop to produce fruits.  the ebbs and flow of the oceans perhaps best symbolise the incessant dying-and-rising of Mother Nature.  Humans beings, too, suffer and die.  Some of human suffering is natural and unavoidable as we grow old, weak and finally die.  However, there is man-made suffering and avoidable death of society’s vulnerable victims ; aborted babies, malnourished children, abused children, exploited women, economically poor, bonded labourers and so on.  If we treat all human beings as God’s children, then it is our sacred duty to ensure that these CRUCIFIXIONS and DEATHS are avoided.

People with ALTRUISTIC ATTITUDES are admired by all.  Asking nothing for themselves, they are ready to sacrifice everything to protect life——–especially of the CRUCIFIED PEOPLE.  Sacrifice is central to the TORAH, the QURAN, the BIBLE and VEDIC religion.  The YAGNA in ancient India was sacrifice offered to the Divine.  Later, there is a stress on the process of INTERIORISATION with true sacrifice understood as an INNER ATTITUDE OF DETACHMENT AND SURRENDER.  YAGNA gets associated with giving (DANA) and penance (TAPAS) in chapter 17 of the Bhagavad Gita.

Jesus is universally seen as an EMBODIMENT OF SELF-SACRIFICE.  SACRIFICE derives from Latin SACER + FACERE, meaning TO MAKE HOLY.  Making small sacrifices for others’ welfare will make every week a ‘holy week’ and every day a ‘holy day’. 

—Francis Gonsalves.