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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Courageously Joyful in Chasing the Dreams of Jesus

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Readings - Isaiah 25:6–10; Psalm 23:1–6; Philippians 4:12–14, 19–20; Matthew 22:1–14

Image courtesy: Creative Commons

I

Every call is holy, just and considered

"For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). These words of Jesus must wake us up. Am I one of those who are called? Am I the chosen out of "many"? We often see this dichotomy of many and few. Why is that God does not choose all of them who are called? Many wrongly understand these words of our Saviour.  Often people believe that only a few are called to be priests or nuns or consecrated people. By our Baptism God has called and chosen everyone and left no one. Perhaps only a few make a real commitment to the call Jesus mentions about. Every call is holy, just and considered whether it is to form a family, remain single or be consecrated. Our call is to do the will of God. 

 II

Choosing to opt for a greater cause

As I write these few lines what is upper most in my mind are two things. First one is of Fr Stan Swamy, an 83 year old Indian Jesuit priest under arrest by the Indian Federal Agency for Investigation (NIA). The second is the Ordination to the Priesthood of four of our Jesuit Deacons today. Both these events have a meaning in what the Sunday scriptural readings are speaking. 

Less than a year ago, I was with Fr Stan in the hospital when he went through an operation. My conversations with him made me aware what that word "chosen" means. A deeply committed Jesuit leaving behind his home in the South of India Fr Stan opted to work with the Adivasis (tribles) of North. Firstly, his conviction that people of the land have a right on their land against the Mining lords led to fight against the very system of illegal practices. Secondly, he could not tolerate unlawful conviction and jailing of Adivasi youth and people (See his interview). Thirdly, Fr Stan did not keep quiet over growing threat to the secularism and diversity of India due to forceful Hinduization of our country. Fourthly, he voiced against vicious majoritianizm of the ruling party of India.  Fifthly, but unfortunately, Fr Stan's voice was viewed as dissent. Debate, dissent, discussion, and dialogue are the pillars of any democracy. Sixthly, Fr Stan did what every responsible citizen of a country must do, that is to enter into intellectual and civic dialogue, exchange and enhance ethos of the country for the greater good. Sadly, in today's contest this has been seen as threat to the establishment and power of the traditionally controlled people and the ruling party. Speaking of truth and justice is seen as unnatural by both the central and state governments. Therefore to silence a civilised voice is to implicate the person into a case that has nothing to do with the person. This is what happening to Fr Stan. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness... blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness... blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me" (Matthew 5:3-12). When God chooses us we have to make a choice either to side with Jesus and the values of His Kingdom or with the mammon. Fr Stan's commitment to this choice to side with Jesus has led him to be part of the witch hunt of the NIA. 

III

Choosing is chasing the dreams of Jesus

The parable of the wedding feast that Jesus (Matthew 22:1-14) gives us is a challenging one in every way. Attending the banquet entails certain discipline and commitment.  People had to attend the feast with right attire/dress. That means only a few would have the possibility of attending because of its requirements. When Jesus invites and chooses us, we should be ready to accept that offer. Once that offer is accepted we have to follow the path that is set before us. It is an invitation of God is to a feast as joyous as a wedding feast. This parable is a reminder for us that Christianity is not a gloomy religion instead a joyous one.  His invitation is to rejoice, happy.  For those who think Christianity as a gloomy giving up of everything which brings laughter and sunshine and happy fellowship is to mistake its whole nature. The resurrected Jesus brought us joy and peace. If one misses the invitation that means he or she misses joy as well. All the more those who hold on to God they will be amply blessed. 

Look at the words from Prophet Isaiah (25:8) "God will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face." Certainly these words are reassuring us and we must hear again and again during this pandemic which has struck us like a disaster. God has no plans to leave us alone in our trials and tribulation, in times of false accusations and wrong judgements. Finally it is God who governs this universe. Psalm 23 verse 6 assures so powerfully:"Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."  Even though it might sound a bit idealistic or utopian to our human intellect but that is the fact that we don't continue to live on this created universe for eternity. 

Here we have a beautiful example in the person St Paul. While writing to Philippians (4:12-13) he boldly confesses: "I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me." Perhaps we need this boldness and joy of St Paul. God knows best how to treat his creatures. When anxieties and fears surround you there is a God who strengthens you with his bountiful graces. We need to trust him fully and accept the situation joyfully and positively. 

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

10 October 2020

13 comments:

lijiserin@gmail.com said...

Dear Rev .Fr.Olvin
The writings are inspiring and reflective.It helps me a lot to trust in God in all the circumstances.

Unknown said...

Thank you Father for the timely inspiration

Anonymous said...

A good sharing about Fr Stan. We too got the news about Fr Stan we are with him in our prayers

Anonymous said...

Thank you Father, I really enjoy reading your post. All glory to God!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the writing you do I am a regular reader of you God bless you

Anonymous said...

I was also sad and angry to hear the allegations against Fr. Stan Swamy, and his arrest. I have heard about him fighting for the rights of the tribals in Jharkhand. Praying for God's mercy in this issue. Thank you for the message to keep our trust in our God in all circumstances and draw strength instead of giving up.

Sebi said...

Incredible! An article that envisioning the future! It's always a pleasure to listen to your article. This skilled article has the Divine power to solve the problems.

Vincy said...

Thanks Olvin for this exclusive Article! I'm sure lots of people may be touched by its depth. I praise God for such wonderful people like you.

Joilin said...

Indeed great article! Almost all your reflections touched me. The news that keeps bothering me is about the arrest of Fr. Stan SJ, a Heaven of the needy. Firstly,I would like to salute Fr.Stan and pray that his deeds of love that went beyond all the borders of caste, religion, language... may make all those who opppose him to thirst to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world as that of Blessed Rani Maria's Assasin. I too pray that many should be born like him to irradiate all sorts of injuries to the poor voiceless people. With the great accomplishment of Fr.Stan, a visionary, May your Society flourish far and wide to show the world how to care and share. Dear Olvin, my humble gratitude to you for updating the news.

Unknown said...

Inspirational! Thanks for everything. Keep doing the same. Need your blessings and prayers.

Therese said...

Thank you father for explaining well how to accept God's call joyfully for chasing the dream of Jesus. Thanks be to God for giving us such a courageous priest Fr.Stan who has raised voice for righteousness for the unprivillaged

Vincy said...

Article that aspires to inspire! Some of the quotes in your article inspire me every day. It's full of Godly wisdom that helps us to light our candles in it. It inspires others to dream more, learn more,do more and become more. Hats off to Fr.Stan who stands tall among all the league of living saints amidst us. Earnest prayers for him to get back to his mission that's demands his very life. His spirit makes me bold to withstand the test of the time in my mission. I would like to share this thoughts with others. Forever I share the same.

Unknown said...

An article worth reading is worth re-reading. Ofcourse your article reads the audience. Good thoughts!