Saturday, October 25, 2008

Devotional Thoughts for 6th Sunday after the feast of exaltation of the H. Cross

Devotional Thoughts for 6th Sunday after the feast of exaltation of
the H. Cross -26th Oct 08

Reading: From the Gospel according to St. Luke 18 18-27

Dear and Respected Brethren,

The audience granted by our Lord to a certain ruler during our Lord's
Public Mission is the topic of today's reading. The certain ruler is
introduced to us by St. Luke and also by St. Matthew (19: 15) as the
one who approached our Lord to seek the answer for his personal
query. He wanted to know what he had to do to inherit the eternal
life. From the very question we could understand that he was a
peculiar man, who wanted to satisfy his own need and he was not
bothered about anything else. It seems that he had come to our Lord
for the first time. If he was a regular visitor, he would have heard
from our Lord itself what he wanted to know. He was good enough to
address our Lord as good Master. Instead of answering the question
put forward by the ruler, our Lord asked him, 'Why are you calling me
good Master. None is good, other than God". Our Lord was analyzing
the depth of the faith of the ruler where our Lord wanted to make
sure that the ruler had the knowledge that Himself is really God. And
God alone could guide an individual to the everlasting or eternal
life. The ruler's reply (if there was any) is not seen in the Holy
Scripture. Again our Lord asked him about the commandments and
reminded him the seriousness required to observe them. Immediately
the ruler opened his mouth and said "I am observing the commandments
from my childhood".

The same will be the answer from many of us, if a question is to be
answered on our spirituality. We all might say from 'my childhood, I
am attending the Church and the spiritual organizations' etc. When
our Lord looked at the ruler, retorted, "You lack one thing". We all
will have to appreciate the ruler as he had only one shortage, when
our Lord God examined him. If we all were there, how many shortages
and lacking would have been found by our Lord? Each and every one of
us is sure about our own lacking. But are we bothered about them?  Or
are we carrying the meaningless weight on our heads and following
Christ and His Church with the aim to obtain the eternal life? Let us
examine ourselves and throw away our useless weights. Let us follow
Him freely with free hands and mind. Unless and until we remove
our 'burdens', which are not required in His presence, we cannot stay
near Him and be in Him.

What was the shortage of the ruler? I have heard many saying that the
ruler had too much wealth and that was the problem. Our Lord was not
against in having too much wealth. But He wanted the ruler as well as
all the mankind to utilize the wealth held by us, whether it is less
or more, for the satisfaction of the less fortunate also. That is why
our Lord advised the ruler to sell all that you have and distribute
them among the poor and needy. In the act of selling, the ownership
right is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Our Lord might
have longed for such a transfer only. When I may consider all the
wealth held by me as my own, I might not distribute a share even
among the poor or the needy. But if I keep a feeling and faith that
all that is held by me is belonging to God Almighty, and I am only a
caretaker, I will give priority to care the wish and will of the real
owner.

In verse 22 we listen to our Lord's advice to distribute the wealth
among the poor. In addition to this our Lord offers that in such a
case, we all would have treasures in heaven. "And thou shall have
treasure in heaven; and come, follow me". This is a great lesson for
each and every one of us. We all are struggling to accumulate
personal wealth and holdings. But if we are trying to make everything
as our own, we are mistaken. Let all our savings be the gift of God.
If you and I have no right on the wealth held by us, it won't be a
problem to donate at the right time for the right cause. We must get
rid of the selfish desires and interests. When we might give over
importance to our wealth and earnings, we would not be in a position
to nourish our spirituality. We all must think whether we are worthy
to be addressed as Christians. Let us find out ourselves the draw
backs and let us sincerely attempt to remove all the obstacles in our
way to our Lord and Savior. Let us go near Him who is always longing
to be dear and near to us.

In verse 23 it is said that when the ruler heard our Lord's words, he
was very sorrowful; for he was very rich. Let us hope that he was
sorrowful of not caring the poor and needy around him till then and
he might have obeyed our Lord. In verse 24 and 25 we read "How hardly
shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. For it is
easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man
to enter into the kingdom of God". In olden days in the Middle
Eastern tradition, there was a small gate though which people could
get in by leaning themselves, on the main gates itself. These
doors/gates prevented the entry of the camels into the court yards.
And the small doors/gates were known as 'needle's eye' based on its
peculiar shape. I have personally seen such gates in the middle east
before so many years. Now it is not a problem as the services
rendered by Camels are rendered by the most modern and luxurious
vehicles. We had such 'needle's eye' doors on the main door on the
western side of the old Churches. Still now there is such a door on
the entrance gate of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. Such doors
were meant for the entry of all faithful in perfect discipline and
faith leaving away his/her own feelings and bowing in respect before
Lord God Almighty. Unfortunately we don't have such doors at the
moment. Still we are supposed to enter the Church with humbleness and
prayer "in reverence, will I enter thy house to offer my vows to
thee".

May God bless us all
Jose Kurian Puliyeril.
 

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