12 May 2015

VOCATION CAMPS leading somewhere?

While there are specific "vocation camps" being held in the summer holidays, I believe every youth programme is an opportunity to promote vocations to the priestly and religious life; to married life and layministry as well. With the World and the Church going global, there is need for  "global vocation camps" with a broader vision and wider mission enabling especially the younsters to see in every walk of life, a Call from God.

We have heard over the past years of a "Vocation Crisis" due to fragility and falling numbers in priestly/religious communities. Shouldn't we also admit a more serious crisis in marriages, in families and in society as well. Infact, Humanity as a "Vocation to Life from God" is in crisis too.

From Sin to Mercy not mere Confession

Introducing the topic on Confession, the first question put to the children was - "What is the first condition to make a good Confession?" and promptly came the reply - "Commit Sin". There couln't be a more pertinent answer, for even we grown ups, associate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with our sins. Confession of sins is just one aspect of the Sacrament. More importantly, it is the unconditional Mercy of God that draws us into the overwhelming embrace of God which transforms sinners into saints.

In the parable of the Prodigal son, Jesus highlights the mercy of the father who hardly thinks of the sins of his son but waits with open arms to be reconciled with his errant younger son. The younger son desired to confess his sins and was even prepared to face a punishment, like being demoted to the level of a servant. But the merciful heart of the father bursts with joy and calls for a celebration of a meal with the fattedd calf. It is precisely this open arms welcome of the merciful father that Jesus wants us to focus on, when we return to the Father's house through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In fact, the Absolution formula says just this: God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of His Church may God give you his pardon and his peace; and I absolve you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Though the main lesson of the parable exemplifies God's mercy towards the sinner, Jesus conintues the story but shifts focus from the younger son to the elder brother with a purpose. The big brother cannot forget and forgive the sins of his kid-brother. His gaze is firmly fixed on the sins of the sinner and he is caught up in his self-righteous and merciless attitude and calls for a justly deserved punisment and not pardon. But "God does not see, as man sees", Jesus seems to say and adds: "Man sees the appearances, but God looks at the heart". The merciful God invites all to be merciful. In forgiving others "seventy times seven" Jesus teaches us to pray: "forgive su our sins as we forgive those who sin against us".

The Holy Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis, invites us to celebrate God's mercy by becoming merciful ourselves, like the Father.

10 May 2015


The Post-Resurrection accounts recorded in the Acts of the Apostles portray the "Salvation History" of the early Christian Community based on Love experienced as a "power" rather than Love as a "force". The two words "power" and "force" have distinct meanings in the context of Energy. While "power" describes energy that is generated from within, "force" refers to an external pressure. We might say that "power" generates true Love while "force degenerates into Law. Let's think over it as we contemplate the Love of Jesus who empowers his Pentecostal community even unto our times.

Christianity is not a religion but a spirituality of Empowerment. The Teachings of Jesus are rarely forceful or for that matter, threatening with punihments and condemnations. Discipleship is not an obligation but an option. "If you wish to be my disciples...."  And if you do, only then, the terms and conditions matter: "Take up your cross and follow me"

In the post-Resurrection scenario, the Risen Lord patiently plays an empowering role, dealing compassioantely with his traumatised disciples and coaxing them to feel the power of his resurrection. The Holy Spirit triggers the hesitant faith of the disciples and the Pentecost is infact, Empowerment.