Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Mammon or Eternal life?

Mammon or Eternal life?

Written by  Laajan Miranda
Mammon  or  Eternal life?
Ezekiel 47: 3,4 speaks about  the different levels  in the relationship that a human being can have  with God. “3.Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep.4. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins”. The love of mammon is the most dangerous sin that any human being in either of these three levels can fall into and this is what the Bible testifies in 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs”. Let us journey through these three levels and meet some characters.

Ankle-deep is the first level where you identify your bondages and sinful tendencies. At this level, you get the grace to overcome every sin that holds you captive (if your repentance is sincere and your determination strong). This is what happens when you decide to attend a retreat and come for the same (make it). This level is more of a call to repentance and the acceptance of Christ as the Lord and Saviour.  God has different plans for the salvation of different souls.  All his plans depend on what he has blessed a particular soul with. Sometimes God presents a soul the opportunity for salvation by just requiring it to repent and acknowledge Christ.   In Luke 23:39-43 we come across two distinct people with contrasting attitudes. Both of them attended a three hour retreat, where no less a person than Jesus Christ taught them.  “39. One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40. But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  41. And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Here, God had a plan of salvation for both the thieves. He was willing to grant salvation to both of them. The only condition involved in the salvation here was that both of them had to repent sincerely for their deeds and acknowledge Christ. At the end of the three hour retreat, we see that the thief who missed it was eager to get out of the place by influencing Christ into performing a miracle for him and then get on with his old life. His love of wealth and easy living got the better of him. In the end the thief who made it renounced his sinful life, repented sincerely and acknowledged Christ, fulfilling all the conditions set for his salvation.

Knee-deep is the second level that comes when you have by the grace of God, overcome your sinful tendencies. The obstacles in the flow of grace and blessings are now out of sight . This is a time for consolidation. This is the time when you have to respond to your call. Your call may either be for service or for intercession or preaching or a combination of everything   depending on what God wants from you. A soul, once it reaches this level, is expected to either be of service to other souls or pray for the salvation of other souls (intercede) or spread the good news. Sometimes it might be a combination of all these. The call here will depend on what God has blessed a particular soul with for the fulfillment of his plan.  Zacchae’us, the chief tax collector was blessed with position by God so that he could use this position to serve other souls. Instead, Zacchae’us ended up misusing his position and accumulating wealth. Eventually, when he went for the retreat (encountered Christ) he realized his calling, repented sincerely and fulfilled his calling by using the same wealth that he had accumulated dishonestly for serving the poor and the needy.  The dangers of going on a vacation in spiritual life are highlighted in  Matthew 12:43-45 – 43. “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. 44 Then he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

Up to the loins this is arguably the highest level, and there are very few who get to this level and sustain it right through the end of their lives. Some examples of people who have got to this level and have been successful in maintaining it right through the end of their lives are the Blessed Mother Teresa, St. Alphonsa  and all the other saints. Though all the Apostles were called to  eternal life and destined to sit on thrones to judge the tribes of Israel, we know of one person who just could not make it.  Of all the people who came to Christ, there were none as fortunate to have attended retreats and experienced Christ for a period of three years at such close quarters as the twelve apostles. Despite being in the most coveted level in their relationship with Christ , we see two of them being tempted in the final hours of Christ’s earthly life. Both of them were given a choice and had to choose between Christ and their love for something else. In St. Peter’s case it was his fear and for Judas Iscariot it was money. Though both of them faltered, St. Peter was bold enough to go back to level 1(repent and acknowledge Christ) and then graduate to level 3 in the course of his life,  whereas Judas Iscariot  lost hope and ended his life. In the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asked Judas “Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?” , he was actually giving Judas the same opportunity that he gave St. Peter.  Judas just could not grab this opportunity and go back to level 1 as St. Peter did.

It is not for nothing that God inculcated in the people of Israel the habit of giving Tithe. The only way one can come out of this problem, which has destroyed many a soul is to start by giving Tithe and then slowly graduate to the level of practicing Charity alongside. In other words, Tithe and Charity are not for God’s personal use (because he is self sufficient). Instead they are tools given by God for breaking free from the hold of mammon and ensuring eternal life.

Monday, 17 September 2012



A man built a double storied mansion and Jesus came one day and knocked at the door to the entrance of his mansion. The man opened the door for Jesus and welcomed him. He showed him around and before long gave him the best room in the 2nd storey for stay and said “please stay here with me”. The man now felt secure with Jesus having taken possession of his favorite room in the 2nd storey.

Before long he heard another knock and went to open the door. Even before he could open the door properly, he felt somebody sneaking in. He was totally disturbed when he realized that it was Satan who had sneaked in. Satan made a mess of every other room in the building except the one in which Jesus stayed. All the while our man thought that Jesus would come to his aid but when Jesus did not turn up, the man, unable to stand the commotion went to Jesus and sought his help. The moment Satan saw Jesus coming out of the room he ran away. The man asked Jesus “why did you not come to my help?”Pointing to the room in which he stayed Jesus said, “Son you gave me only this room to stay, how do you expect me to interfere with what is happening in the other rooms.”

The man realized his mistake and promptly gave Jesus the whole of the 2nd storey to use. The next morning he heard a knock on the door. Thinking that it might be Jesus calling him he ventured to open the door. Even before he could open the door wide Satan sneaked in and started playing havoc in the rooms on the ground floor. The man tried his best to rid Satan but could not. After a while he lost his patience and stormed upstairs. Everything was calm and quite upstairs.

“Lord, how could Satan come in this time with you upstairs” quizzed the man. Jesus smiled and answered “Son you only surrendered the rooms upstairs to me. You put me in charge of the rooms upstairs and look there is absolutely no problem here. As for the rooms downstairs, I have already told you that I never interfere in anything that is not surrendered to me.” Saying this Jesus put his arms around the person and walked downstairs. Seeing Jesus coming Satan fled the scene. The man now realized what Jesus wanted him to do and promptly gave Jesus the keys to the entire building.

Early next morning he heard a knock at the door. This time though, even before he could answer the door, Jesus answered the door. As usual it was Satan. The man leaned against the door of his bedroom as he overheard Satan saying “Sorry, I didn’t expect you here. How did the OWNERSHIP of this building change?” Jesus answered “The building is my property now it has been surrendered to me; I am in charge, so better get going”. The man was never troubled again by Satan.

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In 1 Peter 5:6-7 St. Peter the apostle says “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” Very often we behave like the man who surrendered one room at a time to Jesus only to find problems in the others. However we never think twice before entrusting our life to total strangers.

In our anxiety to reach the office on time, we are prepared to trust the bus or taxi driver, a total stranger with our life. We are sure that he will take us to our destination safe and sound where as the fact is that being a human he is equally likely to commit a mistake and get us involved in an accident. On the other hand we have Christ who is so sure of everything he speaks and does, and will never get us into any trouble, but, we are hesitant to trust him. What an irony.

Each time you partake of the Holy Mass, offer yourself up to Jesus at the consecration of the bread and wine and listen to him in the person of the priest acknowledging your surrender with the words “This is MY BODY”. You have given yourself up to Christ and Christ has now acknowledged your body symbolizing your life as his own. What has taken place here is a change in ownership. Your body is no longer yours but Christ’s.

What happens a few minutes after the consecration confirms this truth. Your body (read your life with all its problems) has now been accepted and transfigured by Christ into his own body. Just believe that this is the body you receive in communion and you will feel sense and see a world of difference in your day and all that you do that day.

- – - written by Lajan Miranda

Friday, 7 September 2012

Knowing Gods Plan

Knowing God's plan for you

Written by  Lajan Miranda
Published:  Wednesday, 22 August 2012 09:53 hrs IST
What is God's plan for you? To know his plan for you, you need to ask him what the rich young man once asked him – Luke 18:18  - 'Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' God's plan for you or rather his ultimate objective for you is eternal life. It is to lead you to eternal life that God plans every aspect of your life. He plans everything - right from the kind of skills you require to your vocation, family, environment and even your flaws and failures.

God blessed Saul with tremendous oratory skills so that Saul, after becoming Paul, could use this skill to proclaim Christ to the Gentiles and thereby gain eternal life. Zacchaeus the chief tax collector was given a flaw to contend with in his earthly life so that he could gain entry to eternal life. The flaw was that God created him as a man of short stature. Had he not been of short stature he would not have climbed the sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus and subsequently not have had Jesus come to his house. The Patriarch Abraham was given a failure in life by giving him no child. Ultimately it is this failure that increased his faith in God to such an extent that led him to be called as the Father of Faith and consequently to eternal life. David's vocation was transformed from that of a Shepherd to a King. This was God's way of calling David into a fellowship with him and thereby leading King David to eternal life. Moses was ordained by God to live in the family of the Pharaoh despite being a Hebrew. Had he not been found by the Pharaoh's daughter he would have been slaughtered. In the case of Moses it was the Pharaoh's family that triggers his path to eternal life. Later on the family that he was born into becomes the cause of his flight to the desert where he encounters God and is commissioned for the mission of leading the Israelites to the land of milk and honey.

John 17:3 gives us the definition of eternal life as taught by Jesus  - 'And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' In a nutshell, eternal life is nothing but a personal relationship with the Trinitarian God - The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. One person who experienced eternal life right here on earth was the Blessed Mother. She was the obedient daughter of  The Father, the mother of  The Son and  before being the mother of the Son, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.  The most prominent sentiment that the word Mother brings to mind  is Love and the sentiment that the word Spouse brings to mind is Sharing. Therefore, if one were to device a 3 point formula practiced by the Blessed Mother for eternal life it would be -Obedience to the will of God, Love for God and sharing, which is nothing but giving your neighbour what he deserves or in other words love for the neighbour.

Since we haven't attained the spiritual maturity that the Blessed Mother had attained when she became the mother of Christ through her detachment with the world and its objects of comfort, the barriers to eternal life as far as we are concerned are the world and our own short- comings. This experience is very evident in the life of a number of people who pursued Christ. Mark 10:46-48  'And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimae'us, a blind beggar, the son of Timae'us, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!'

Here we see the crowd following Jesus trying to prevent Bartimae'us from calling him for help. This is what the world or the people around us always try to do. They will always prevent us from approaching Jesus for help. In such a situation, it is for us to swim against the tide and say NO to the world around. Imagine what would have happened to Bartimae'us had he listened to the crowd? It was because Bartimae'us dealt appropriately with the crowd that he came to know Jesus (eternal life).
St. Augustine, one of the greatest leaders of the church had to say NO to his carnal passions so that God's plan for him could materialize. It was only after he dealt with this serious short- coming of his that God's plan for him materialized.  Zacchae'us the chief tax collector had to deal with his greed for wealth enroute to eternal life.  The woman who suffered from haemorrhage for twelve years had to deal with the crowd before approaching Jesus.  Saul after his Damascus experience and before he was commissioned to be the apostle of the Gentiles, had to deal with his pride and ignorance concerning Jesus before God could use him.

Therefore, being Sin conscious and dealing with our sins is just as essential a step in the direction of the revelation of God's plan for us as is breaking away from the crowd and practicing detachment with the world.

We need to identify which of the seven cardinal sins viz. anger, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony  or a combination of them is/are ruling us and systematically eliminate them before we can think of practicing detachment.

Ephesians 1:9-10  has this to say 'For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ. 10 As a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth'.

To know  more about the will of God, practice 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 16-18 - 'Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.'  

Let us pray:  'May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,  give us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,  having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might Amen.'