After His resurrection Jesus spent 40 days appearing to His disciples in different places, eating with them, performing miracles; and opening their minds to what had been said about the Messiah in the Scriptures through Law of Moses, The Prophets and The Psalms: that The Messiah had to suffer and on the third day rise from the dead (Luke 24: 44-46).
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is empty and your faith comes to nothing. And we become false witnesses of God who have declared that God has raised Christ … And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in sin” (1 Corinthians 15: 14-15, 17).
“We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority?
“And I will lead the blind in the way that they know not, in paths that they have not known, I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground” (Isaiah 42: 15-16).
I personally love this particular portion of the Bible. In fact the entire Chapter 42 of Isaiah is so encouraging and uplifting to read and reflect upon. It is so reassuring and reviving. God is here reassuring us as he did the Children of Israel thousands of years ago through His servant, Isaiah that He will not leave us to stray. In our journey through life, we need divine guidance in order to be able to arrive at our destinations. But we must realise that we have to relate with God like a child, like the blind who know not their ways.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29: 11)
God loves us so much that He did not only create us in His image and likeness but created us with well-designed plans for our lives. He told Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart …” (Jeremiah 1: 5). It is very true that we are no accidents. We are perfectly planned works of God’s creative artistry destined for divine purposes and goals.
I once read that God gave us two ears and one mouth because in His Wisdom, God wants us the use the ears twice more than we use the mouth; that the ears are intend to do more work than the mouth. This is exactly what St. James tells us in the quotation above – “be quick to listen, slow to speak.” For many people, the opposite is the case: the mouth does more! Sometimes we speak without even listening to ourselves. The words we speak have power – they can bless, motivate, inspire, challenge, teach or instruct, encourage, change lives, bring peace and create love.
"Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts." - Mother Teresa
Many Christians, nay religious people, have this misunderstanding of praying as moments spent on telling God about our needs, our worries, our concerns, our anxieties, our life challenges and all similar things. No, prayer is much more than that. Prayer is really an encounter between the All-knowing God, who is our Father, and His children. It is an occasion to express our intimate union and relationship with God. So we approach fully aware of His power and love. We go to Him in acknowledgement of our weaknesses, limitations and sins; but with trust in His merciful compassion.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4: 6).
Prayer could be a very interesting encounter. It can sometimes be very difficult, dry and uninteresting. It is made worse when what we have been praying for does not seem to come through. Prayer is a journey. It needs perseverance and faithfulness. Many saints, monks and hermits would share the same experiences about prayers. With the hope that this helps us, I like to share with you what I call the 4 Ps of prayer:
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them … Then how come each of us hears them in his own native tongue … we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues” (Acts of the Apostl
The inexplicable outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the day of (First) Pentecost made manifest in the gift of tongues is an event with deep sublime meanings. The wonderful expression of witnessing and testimony in different tongues points to our diversity and differences; the understanding by all in various languages and the common message that was heard demonstrates our unity in diversity. We may be different but the message of the Gospel is one. We share one faith, one baptism, one bread and one cup.
“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly.” (Pope Francis)
The Christian life is a journey with the cross, of the cross and in the cross of Christ. We have to embrace it freely with love as part of our identity. We identify with the cross through self-abnegation, suffering, illness and sickness, setbacks and challenges, obstacles and failures. Life without the cross is life without Christ. Jesus says: “If anyone is willing to come after Me: let him deny himself and take up his cross every day, and follow me” (Luke 9: 23).