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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fullness of God Fills Our Emptiness

The startling contrast of empty St Peter's Square, and silence in between the whole ceremony of Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World) of Pope Francis on 27th March 2020 in the Vatican left me thinking once again about our life on this earth.

In addition to the above image, there are two other things of Vatican that have left indelible mark in my memory in the last few years as moving experiences.  The wind that continually flipped the pages of the Bible which was placed on the coffin of Pope John Paul II and the Pope Benedict XVI's exit from the Vatican as Pope Emeritus and being taken away in a helicopter.  But Pope Francis' special prayer service with his deep and insightful reflections with an empty St Peter's Square and its huge Bernini's Colonnade certainly leave in us unforgettable mark, indeed, given its special significance when the whole world is being devastated by the Corona pandemic.

(photo courtesy: repubblica.it)
An 83 year old Pope in his advanced years, who is the leader of the global Catholic Church with his hip and lung problems still praying in a completely empty square was simply moving. Every person who has seen this scene must have felt the weight behind this important gesture of the Pope to pray for the suffering humanity. Perhaps there was a deep feeling that an evening of our life on the face of this earth has come so quickly, suddenly and early. 

Pope Francis put up a brave front infront of the beaming video cameras which transmitted each detail and every movement of Pope to the entire world. Moreover, with the Blessed Sacrament in front of him and giving a solemn blessing of hope and healing surely put us in a mood that there exist someone, somewhere who is beyond us and as His children we have every right and reason to worship and ask for the grace of healing, comfort and forgiveness.

Even though Pope Francis looked terribly shaken by the devastation that Corona virus is causing to the survival of entire humanity and especially Italy, which saw already on this day 10,000 deaths within a span of 15 days, he showed great courage of love and hope. His fervent prayers at the foot of the icon of Salus Populi Romani (health of the Roman people) and the "miraculous crucifix" of St Marcellus, Pope pleaded for the entire humanity with a great responsibility as successor of St Peter, the Apostle. Trusting entirely at the immense benevolence of Jesus our Lord, who only could take us safe in Peter's boat, Pope Francis led the world with utter humility towards the power of the Blessed Sacrament.  

What caught my imagination is the rain which continued to pour with its thrumming sound from the time Pope started to address a bit dark but the empty Square with its well lit colonnade and specially erected huge fire places around the stage where usually Pope conducts liturgies.
(Photo courtesy: vatican.va)
The empty square was in a way a reminder that human person in front of the global tragedies of such magnitude of today stands open with empty hands, a sign of nothingness and finitude. Bernini's colonnade were like almost embracing human person's hollowness at this juncture. 

Pope's solemn blessing moved the world and stormed the heavens through the ringing of Church bells, rains dropping on the ground and at the corner siren of an ambulance. This did give a testimony that we are not in control of this world including of our life and our empty noise.  

The very beginning of the discourse of Pope put us where we are today in this distressing time: "For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel [Mark 4:35-41] we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

Yet, one thing is certain, in spite of such magnitude of distress and frustration when the whole world is unable to find a way out from this pandemic, God is there, watching us our helplessness and misery. He who is full will fill our emptiness, whatever may come today or tomorrow. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

You may read Pope Francis' reflections here

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

29th March 2020


Friday, March 27, 2020

Corona Virus: Will You Spare Me?


(Photo courtesy: Jean-Mark Arkalian)
As I am flooded with information after information from all sorts of media outlets about Corona Virus, I have been questioning myself as fear grips me deep within. Dear Corona Virus will you please spare me? I ask. Even though, we have been keeping ourselves untiringly clean and free from any kind of infection both inside and outside of our house, still this thought awakens me from my slumber. 

With WhatsApp Open University offering us both fake and true information on Corona virus, now this disease is becoming a reality in front of our eyes. What strikes me most about this whole saga of Corona virus infection is that death is imminent; death is at our door step. Until other day when Chinese were struggling to cope up with this new phenomena called epidemic, we received messages from our dooms day pundith's suggestions to cure this disease with Ayurvedic, Naturopathy and Homeopathy medicines. Well then now these our Indian pundith's could test on them which they had suggested to Chinese!

Too many questions?
As the news of people inflicted with the Corona Virus surges and in our own vicinity such cases are reported, the very first thought comes to my mind is this: Will this epidemic reach our doors?  How long we are going to be under this lockdown? When will we get back to the normal life of moving around freely and unhesitatingly? How many of us will be out of this face of the earth? When will the scientists find out the medicine to treat this virus? The more I ask questions more confused I become. Therefore, what I have to do is to sit back and say to myself, come on, be patient. Time will give us the answers. In other words, at this moment I have to be patient, responsible, hopeful and encourage myself and others to take this moment as it comes. What wins finally is our hope and faith.

The ancient Romans lived with a phrase which is very relevant even today: Dum vita est, spes est,  while there is life, there is hope. We could keep burning alive our hope as long as there is life. In fact, when life itself is threatened, when there is so much of chaos and uncertainty where will be the hope. First, we will keep our hope and then our life will come along.

At this time of state and self imposed monastic life style of isolation and indefinite home stay, social distancing and hygiene centred formulas that would keep oneself and others sane and healthy, I would like to see this with an early and happy end. My only hope is that this kind of draconian measures of implementation period of quarantine and unflinching gravity of this pandemic should see a quick end. As I read the foreign news media and what is happening in Bella Italia, (read Corriere della Sera or la Repubblica) only a glimmer of hope remains thinking about this global epidemic. 

Just a few days ago, Jesuit Information Service of Spain published an account of a Jesuit Fr Seve Lázaro, who is just 51, superior of a small Jesuit community in Madrid, parish priest and director of CVX (Christian Life Community). While still in his recovery from Corona virus infection in an isolated ward of a hospital, he shared his experiences in a short write up, "victim or witness of Corona virus?" ¿Víctima o testigo del Coronavirus?

Victim or Witness
Fr Seve Lázaro is both a victim and a witness. Unlike other diseases or chronic illnesses, Corona virus does its job quite quickly - either a recovery or death within a stipulated time.
As a victim, firstly, what Fr Seve felt intensely was in spite of a number of dosages of medicines, the fever would not go away. Secondly, he felt schizophrenically uninformed of what was really happening to him in spite of his repeated calls to the medics. Thirdly, he felt seeing himself suddenly marked and singled out as someone to be immediately isolated and to be prevented and condemned to be alone, apart, gradually allow him or others die. He says further that what he carries with him is a profound and fruitful experience of being a witness.

As a witness because to see how weakness brushes against him, invades him completely. Seve says "it is very hard to live there [in the hospital], for minutes, hours, days that last forever". What settles him down now is to see this experience as fruitful that he is human, coming from the dust, an earthly, finite, fragmented being. Often, we would like to live at the center, at a focal point. That is why umpteen everyday strivings both personal and professional happens to be revolving around that of becoming who you are not. Interestingly this Corona virus is challenging each one, the whole global family how weak we are, including the politicians, scientists, religious leaders, health professionals, family members and of course the sick. Finally, we have come to a conclusion to appreciate the fragility, finiteness and vulnerability that surrounds this adventure called "life."

As a witness, because just like Van Eyck and other Flemish painters who signed their works with "as best I can" here too to live this life fully as many do. Even though to live that difficult moment of isolation and uncontrollable fever is difficult,  still gathering that energy to see that stage is more useful than other times. Often we are counted or measured because of how professional and talented we are in our institutions and companies. But who put that in our heads? At this juncture what life asks me is to do as best as I can and appreciate those who are caring for you in your isolation.

Another element as a witness is to see that unconditional truth that we like to avoid: death. As we see the number of people dying, getting infected with this dreadful virus every 24 hours and multiplying, you stop to see the numbers but begin to see the faces whom you love, close family, neighbourhood where you live, work, serve, etc.

Fr Seve concludes his write up narrating beautifully what his mother told him. "My mother, who also called me twice everyday [while in the hospital] on Tuesday the 17th [March] told me as she did on Sunday, the 15th, when I put them on the family WhatsApp [group] the day I was taken to the hospital. She said to my brother with whom she lives to accompany her to the Church to pray. Before she could finish I asked her: "Have you not asked God to heal me, yes or yes?" And she, with her faith of 84 long years, told me: "no, my son, how can you think that I am going to ask God such a thing, for we are nothing? I only told Him to cure you only if it suits. And what I since then begged Him is that wherever you go, to take me there, with you. That, only with you I want to be, wherever you go." In that hour, I just happened to cry. But these days returning to her, I feel that my improvement began there. There inside me, where until then there were only the virus and the loneliness that accompanied it, suddenly I felt that even deeper, and skipping all the protocols, my mother's unconditional love had entered inside me."

Finally, Fr Seve concludes his experience saying what good this pandemic doing. It is bringing us closer to the unconditional nature of life, that is death, which is also love. And when we succeed in expressing it, like his mother did with him, love will reveal itself stronger and will go deeper than the virus itself, until we are ripped open from it. So let us not stop spending our time over the phone to call all those who feel lonely and sick, who are incapacitated, expressing that there is something stronger that is the love we have for them.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

27 March 2020

Thursday, March 19, 2020

St Joseph: A Man of Dreams; A Man of Actions!

(St Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a dream)



In our liturgical year, we celebrate two times the feast of St Joseph. On the 1st of May the Church celebrates St Joseph as the Worker and today on the 19th of March, Church celebrates St Joseph, the Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Therefore, in this context we will base our reflections on this topic and how Joseph participated in the salvation work of his divine Son Jesus.

Perhaps we could look at this from three aspects that we find in Joseph. 
1. St Joseph was a refine person and noble in his dealings
2. St Joseph was a responsible husband and father and fully relied on God
3. St Joseph was a man of the future. And that futurity was God

Firstly, St Joseph was a refine person and noble in his dealings
The scriptures speak very little about St Joseph. In fact, he is familiar in statuary, paintings, nativity scenes, children’s stories, Christmas plays and Catholic devotional practices. He has most often been portrayed as quite old, a grandfather in the background of the stable at Bethlehem, a bald man with a flowering staff, and on his deathbed with Jesus at his side and with a much younger Mary standing by. What must be the origin of this image? Such particulars are imaginatively supplied by certain apocryphal writings. Though non-canonical and never considered historical by the Church, such writings have had a great influence on popular devotion including our own. Their content has entered into preaching, art, liturgy, and even patristic writings, though the latter have by and large employed a quite critical approach to them.

Even though Gospels do not supply us the imagery of Joseph as a man in his senior years but due to the influence of certain apocryphal writings we continue to have such an image of St Joseph, the husband of Mary.

Foremost among these apocrypha is the Protoevangelium of James. Protoevangelium signifies that it covers the period prior to that covered by the gospels originally written around the middle or the second half of the second century with a particular purpose. Its aim was to glorify Mary, which means her virginity must be reconciled with the Gospel phrase regarding Jesus’ “brothers.”

Subsequent apocryphal works draw freely on the story of James, adding their own embellishments. Among these are The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew which includes legends of the stay in Egypt, The Syriac-Arabic Infancy Gospel, The Armenian Infancy Gospel, and the Liber de Infantia Salvatoris. The Infancy Story of Thomas recounts numerous bizarre miracles worked by the child Jesus. The resulting composite story has Joseph as a carpenter who makes plows, yokes, other wooden tools for cultivation, and also wooden beds.

Through these texts Mary and Joseph are made into leading characters, rather than supporting participants in the great mission of Christ. The purpose of these works is apologetic, doctrinal, or simply to satisfy one’s curiosity. What we learn from these stories is that St Joseph was a gentle man, a refine man who had a noble dealings. The Gospel of Matthew Chapter 1: 19 says to us that he was “a righteous man”.

Secondly, St Joseph was a responsible person who relied fully on God. Initially, he wanted his engagement to Mary to fall apart because of her conception. He wanted to do it quietly in order to save his and Mary’s reputation. We could imagine their situation in this so uncommon and complicated moment. However, once he hears the voice, Matt 1:20, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” things change in him and he never looks back from his responsibility of a good husband to Mary and foster father to Jesus. 

Joseph is convinced fully that it is a work of God. He never shrugs his responsibility either from making all the arrangements in Bethlehem to find a place for Mary to give birth to the child, or to leave the native land for Egypt in order to save the child from the clutches of murderer Herod or to bring back the child to the native land after the death of the monster king Herod, or even searching Jesus in the temple during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Joseph was there as a bedrock to Mary and to Jesus doing everything. Unfortunately, all his dreams were a bit nasty and worrying all the time, Joseph trusted completely in the God of his ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He knew his God. He knew God would not let him and his family down because he had the right and true intentions. 

Thirdly, St Joseph was a man who knew who his God was. He was a man of the future; he knew his futurity was God. Joseph seems to be a man all the time working and labouring in fulfilling his primary duty as bread winner for his family and doing the will of God. He was clear of his vision of God. He was God’s rightful instrument. The destiny or goal of his life was sure once the angel Gabriel woke him up in his sleep. “Take Mary as your wife.” In spite of the bad dreams that he dreamt still he was there to fulfil them and bring to completion God’s work in the life of Jesus. Just as his divine Son Jesus would say later on in his preaching ministry that a tree can be known by its fruits (Luke 6: 44). For every tree is known by its own fruit. So too, we know who Jesus is because of Joseph. Only a good tree produces good fruits (Matthew 7:17–18). Saint Bernardine of Siena writing on St Joseph writes, “What then is Joseph’s position in the whole Church of Christ? Is he not a man chosen and set apart? Through him and yes, under him, Christ was fittingly and honourably introduced into the world.” “In Joseph the Old Testament finds its fulfilment. He brought the noble line of patriarchs and prophets to its promised fulfilment.”

So dear friends, we pray on this wonderful day of the feast of St Joseph, who is the patron saint of the whole universal Church, and also of our house Mount St Joseph, we may always strive to be like Joseph, refine and noble in our dealings, responsible and humble and rely completely on God, as well men and women who find in God the futurity and our destiny. May St Joseph, may bless us abundantly with his graces and interventions when we need them. Amen.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

Feast of St Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

19th March 2020

Sunday, March 15, 2020

No More a Stranger in a Time of Corona Virus Crisis

3rd Sunday of Lent: Readings: Exodus 17:3–7; Psalm 95:1–2, 6–9; Romans 5:1–2, 5–8; John 4:5–15, 19–26, 39–42
The Woman at the Well and Jesus
  1. Today's readings at the liturgy are rich in content and practical in many ways. 
  2. In the life of God, everyone is included and none is left out.
  3. The reading from the book of Exodus tells us that whatever may be our temptations to criticise and be not happy with what we don't have, still God gives us everything we need. Our God is a generous God, a large hearted God and opens to us new possibilities even in our distress and dissatisfaction.
  4. Who are these Samaritans? They were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (2 Kings 17:6, 24–41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.
  5. None of us in this world are left out but everyone is part of God's life. So there is no possibility of  inclusion of a word "alienation" or "excluded" in God's dictionary.
  6. Jesus shows this in his conversation with the Samaritan Woman. He makes known to her who she is, especially her sense of exclusion from her own community and also by a larger society, because of her life which did not suit moral of the day. By making her known who she is, she recognises in Jesus not just a "Sir" but a "prophet", who speaks of God and for God. She recognises in Jesus, Messiah, the Christ, in other words, the anointed one. 
  7. Jesus answers the Samaritan woman with these profound words “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (Jn 4:10). If I knew the gift of God, there would not arise any questions of doubt, suspicion or any other kind anxiety. I would not be a stranger to God and God to me. 
  8. The episode at the Jacob's well indicate that Jesus was thirsty and looking for water. The humanity of Jesus is very vividly expressed here (Jn 4:7-9). Jesus did not shy away from asking what his physical body needed at the hour. He did not conceal human aspect of his life. 
  9. In place of just simple water she is able to receive from Jesus the living water, which only the Son of God could give. Jesus takes the discourse from simple aspect of water to living water of eternity. He not only wins the Samaritan woman but also her village and the whole of Samaria. Moreover, Jesus spends his precious two days in that village along with his disciples. Jesus' capacity of winning over them is incredibly fascinating. Thus, Jesus satisfies not just the human physical thirst but also the spiritual thirst. 
  10. Jesus is the answer to our questions. We need to hold on to him even in our distress and and in times of tribulations. 
  11. With the spread of Corona virus around the world and in our own country, which is a serious threat to our life, we are called to be vigilant and do our best to keep us safe. But, on a far deeper level, we need to turn to prayer, to our relationship with God, to find comfort and peace that we need the most. This is a time to place ourselves in our Lord's hands and to ask for the grace to trust. Thus we may find a way out from this nasty disease. 
Prayer: Most loving God, Creator of us all, we turn to you to care for your people in need and in distress around the world. We thank you for your presence which you manifest among us continually and the peace you offer us daily. Send us your Spirit in this time of terrible distress which seems to be overtaking us and fill us with courage, faith and hope, so that we might be your instruments of love and assistance for others in need. Through this crisis of global illness, may we come together, as people of faith in a crisis so often do by your grace, and may we come out of it more united and more determined to care for those most in need. May the medical professionals find a right medicine to treat this Corona virus and thus save the humanity for your glory and praise. Amen.


- Olvin Veigas, SJ
3rd Sunday of Lent
15 March 2020

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Discernment and Mysticism with Eyes Wide Open

2nd Sunday of Lent: Readings: Genesis 12:1-4;  2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9

-Olvin Veigas, SJ
8th March 2020

Sunday, March 1, 2020

God's Love is More Powerful than Sin

1st Sunday of Lent: Readings - Genesis 2:7–9; 3:1–7; Psalm 51:3–6; 12–14, 17; Romans 5:12–19; Matthew 4:1–11
 
(The Temptation in the Wilderness, by Briton Riviere, ca. 1920.)
I would like to reflect over three aspects that are very prominent in all the three readings and the Psalm  51 that we heard today.

First one is sin, the second, the consequences of sin, and thirdly, the application of these readings to our life.

Sin is a three letter word which creates havoc not only today but even from the beginning of human history. It is a word that we hardly speak in public, in our work places, homes, businesses, factories or offices, or in our farms. However, every one is confronted with this word "Sin", individually or collectively. That is why our conscience often pricks. 

The first Letter of John 1: 8 says “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” So at the risk of distressing your digestion, let me begin this liturgy of the First Sunday of Lent by speaking on Sin.  For unless we speak of sin, we shall not speak sensibly of Easter, of resurrection, of Jesus Christ and even of ourselves. 

I would like to see here Sin for what it is, for what it does. By doing so you may opt for sin’s opposite: opt for love, for life, and for Christ. 

I should ask three set of questions here at this stage: What is this three letter word is all about? What does it have to do with the Christ of Lent’? What should it say to today’s Christian, in Lent and beyond?

I
To answer the first question, what is sin all about?  We go back to the first book of the Scriptures, the Genesis; first man, first woman and first sin. Sin is not a recent invention, sin was not invented in Rome or it is carved out in my psyche because of the guilt ridden the teacher of the catechism. 

Somewhere in the distant past, a man and a woman shaped in God’s image and likeness, (Gen 1:26-27; 5:1–3) the most beautiful and wondrous work of God on earth, turned their backs on their creator. Crowned with glory, he was given dominion over the world and the protection of His angels (Psalms 8:6–8; 91:11–13). He was made to worship God—to live not by bread alone but in obedience to every word that comes from the mouth of the Father. Gen 3:17 describes it how they have to behave a distant yet a clear voice, “You shall not eat of it”

It’s not important whether it was a red apple or some sort of artistic symbol ultimately matter. What matters most how God’s people, under God’s guidance came to understand sin. Sin was rebellion. It was a revolt, overthrowing. From one individual’s sin to a nations sin. 

Look at David, adulterous murderer finally realises he not only profaned the rights of the husband, of Uriah: “I have sinned against the Lord” writes 2 Sam 12:13. For Israelites to sin meant the rupture of a covenant. Both prophets Hosea and Jeremiah speak about it. Hosea says:
"Rejoice not O Israel,… 
for you have played the harlot, 
forsaking your God. 
You have loved a harlot’s hire 
[the pay of the sacred prostitute..] (Hos 9:1). 

Listen to Prophet Jeremia (3:1-2):
"You [Judah] have played the harlot with many lovers,
and would you return to me?...
By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers
like an Arab in the wilderness.
You have polluted the land
with your vile harlotry."

Sin ruptures a relationship, intimacy with the God who fashioned you out of nothing- fashioned you out of love alone.

The Gospel’s are no different. In John sin is separation - separation from God. It means you are no longer a son or daughter of the Father; you are a salve-enslaved to satan. According to St Luke, it's like a prodigal son, beak the bond that bond between a father and son, father and a daughter. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” Lk 15:21

Sin takes place when we stop loving our neighbours as we love ourselves.

II
What has this Lent has to do with Christ and Lent?

For this we go back to today’s reading from St. Paul written to the Romans. Paul is profoundly aware of Sin. "Sin came through one man’s rebellion", he says; i.e, Adam’s act of disobedience. It is an evil force, rebellious force, a bad force, It’s a power hostile to God, a power that alienates us from God. Its works are hostile to God. Its works are sinful deeds. . . Paul says, “I do not  do the good  I want, but the evil I do not want” Rom 7:19.

paul further says "as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous... Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more...through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom 5:19-21.

John 3:16 writes: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. 

In Lent we relive a love that has no rival, the love that is more powerful than sin. More powerful than the first sin or the countless sins that deface God’s image each day on earth. 

You see only the God whom sin defies could possibly destroy the death that stems from sin. St Paul is amazed at God’s power of love. Therefore, instead of an angel God sent his only son….finally God’s son pinned to crossed beams, God’s own son would bleed out his life and die like a criminal. Such is the love we relive in Lent. God showed "His love for us even while we were sinners and Christ died for us". (Rom 5:7-8).

III
So thirdly, I should ask: What should all this say to today’s Christian in Lent and beyond? Though Jesus has destroyed the tyranny of sin, he has not destroyed our ability to sin. Even though sin does not enslave us yet we are still tempted to sin. We are still free to sin. Still, we sin after the pattern of Adam’s transgression. Like Adam, we let sin in the door (Genesis 4:7) when we entertain doubts about God’s promises, when we forget to call on Him in our hours of temptation. But the grace won for us by Christ’s obedience means that sin is no longer our master.

This is where today’s Gospel reading comes in. Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”  (Mt 4:1) Jesus the new Israel is tempted, tempted when he is weak after 40 days of fasting and prayer. He is tempted to betray his mission. He is tempted when he is spiritually abundant. All these three temptation are temptations to power. You are hungry?…hungry, chase the stones, people want to pay attention to then soar like a bird from the roof top of the temple, you want to rule over the world then worship me. Thus you will get what you deserve. Adam, however, put the Lord his God to the test. He gave in to the serpent’s temptation, trying to seize for himself all that God had already promised him. But in His hour of temptation, Jesus prevailed where Adam failed—and drove the devil away.

Fascinatingly, Jesus says something different. Look for me among the lowly, the powerless, the crucified. The powers of this world means worshiping the false gods. 

There is often a temptation for Christians that haunts us that we are superior and powerful. We have shown in our Christian history through inquisition, crusades, wars on religions and ghettos, etc. that we are better than others. 

So, during these 40 days of Lent and beyond those 40 days, let our focus be not on sin, and the fears that sin brings but rather that on love, love that is stronger than sin.

As 1 John 4:18 says, “love that casts out fear.” Love that carried Jesus to the Cross. A love that crosses all sorts of boundaries that we try to put up. A love that over comes in times of our distress, in times of physical suffering, when we get bad reports of our health, when the stress of marriage and conjugal life becomes heavier like a cross, when our studies make no progress, when we do not get the jobs that we like to own, when our businesses don’t prosper or salaries don’t get increased, when our fields do not produce enough, then we need to look at Jesus on the Cross.  

Let that love of Christ be infront of us. Even Jesus could not attain whatever he wanted to achieve in his life time. Only such a Lent my dear friends leads to Easter, the crucifixion that end in Resurrection, the dying that is Christian living. In Christ we are strong. Because God's love is more powerful than sin. As we begin this season of repentance, we can be confident in His compassion, that He will create in us a new heart (Romans 5:5; Hebrews 8:10). As we do in today’s Psalm, we can sing joyfully of our salvation, renewed in His presence. AMEN.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ
 01 March 2020