Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence and keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity.

Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that comes with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

May this moment and all other coming moments open new doors for you and may God bless you with wisdom and courage to walk in faith, as you continue your journey of life!

Now from the depth of your heart begin to wish your mind well……….

You have been reconciled and called to the “very holiness of God”!
How awesome and how challenging!

The love of Christ became the moving force in the life of Paul. He says, “The love of Christ impels us.” This love, he says, makes us a “new creation”, with a new life style. This is God’s gift of reconciliation and peace. In Jesus, God has reconciled us to himself so that we may become “the very holiness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

Therefore, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms. Be intent on things above rather than things of earth. Be faithful to your higher calling. Paul reminded the Colossians, just as he did the Corinthians, that they had a noble vocation, that they were “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved” and that they were clothed with the garment of salvation (Colossians 3:1-21). Therefore they must live a life worthy of this noble calling by living lives of honor, virtue and grace. They must live lives that are holy with “heartfelt mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness and love”. This is our calling today…to be noble men and women, wearing garments of nobility!

This also means, Paul says, that we must put to death whatever in our nature is rooted in earth. We must avoid sinful ways and embrace ways of virtue and honor and nobility. We must set aside anger, jealousy, greed, foul language and all that degrades and lowers our dignity and that of others and clothe ourselves in garments of “heartfelt mercy, kindness, meekness, patience, forgiveness and put on love which binds all virtues together and makes them perfect. We must let Christ’s peace reign in our hearts (Colossians 3:5-17).

Put your best foot forward! Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…bear with one another, forgive one another….. look out for each other’s needs.

During the second century before Christ, family structures and values began to break down among the Jews as a result of the influence of Greek culture and philosophy. Jesus Ben Sira, the wise man advised his people to maintain unity in families. He saw that breakdown in family life was going to cause breakdown in society as well. He invited his readers to see mutual love and care among family members as the highest standard and offered practical guidelines on how to live out the commandment to honor one’s father and mother and all others.(Sirach 2-7)

Our situation today is not much different from the time of Ben Sira. It is urgent that we renew our commitment to live higher values, to live life of honor and to set our hearts on God’s ways. It is urgent to honor our higher calling and be faithful!

Honor yourself and one another. Honor your spouse, your children, your parents, your commitments, your church, your country, your God. Be honorable men and women. Be noble in your ways.

We have seen the lack of honor, integrity, virtue and respect from our world leaders and our spiritual leaders. We see it in the coarseness of our culture, the stuff on TV, the speech in civil & cultural circles, the ugly & gross lyrics of music, the dress codes of boys and girls and the lack of virtue in relationship between men and women, even in Christian families. There seems to be a lack of private virtue in our people and without private virtue how could there be public virtue?!

John Adams wrote (April 16, 1776), “Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honor, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superior to all private passions.”

Regardless of how our leaders act or what direction the world is going, we must choose honor, integrity, respect and all other virtues to keep us, our families and our world safe and healthy and alive and well. Virtue means strength and life. Absence of virtue means weakness and eventual death. A life time of vices and sin, saying “no” to God and God’s ways can be changed into a life of “yes”, a life of virtue and honor and integrity. Let us choose Virtue, honor and integrity!

Virtues are lost in self-interest as rivers are lost in the sea. Virtues are the internal qualities that allow us to be our best selves and enable us to lead complete and fulfilling lives. They are God’s gifts to us. It is up to us to nurture them by daily practice.

Paul instructed the Ephesians: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God – Awake, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light – Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity – Defer to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Letter to the Ephesians 5:1-21)

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mathew 22:37-41)

Jesus also said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The kind of Love that Jesus called forth is unconditional and volitional and is something that one wills and chooses and decides to live.

John equated God with love in his first letter: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

At the Last Supper, Jesus gave his disciples this final commandment, and declared love to be the defining characteristic of Christianity: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus went on to say “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

The love that Jesus calls forth from his disciples is benevolent love, unconditional, non-possessive and non-discriminating and volitional, intentional and purposive. It is love that reaches out in communion. It is loving the way God loves us. It is possible for us to love the way God loves because the “Love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Roman 5:5)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you;

Abide in my love. (Jn. 15:9)

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from me you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5)

That they may all be one, as you Father are in me and I in you;

I pray that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me (Jn. 17:21)

Paul described love (1 Cor.13: 4-8) as follows: Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

Love must transcend competition and control…..

Love must reach out in selfless and generous service…..

Love must transcend ill feelings, jealousies, hatred……

Love goes beyond the call of duty…….

Love walks the extra mile……..

Two brothers worked together on the family farm. One was married and had a large family. The other was single. At the day’s end, the brothers shared everything equally, produce and profit.

Then one day the single brother said to himself, “It’s not right that we should share equally the produce and the profit. I’m alone and my needs are simple.” So each night he took a sack of grain from his bin and crept across the field between their houses, dumping it into his brother’s bin.

Meanwhile, the married brother said to himself, “It’s not right that we should share the produce and the profit equally. After all, I’m married and I have my wife and my children to look after me in years to come. My brother has no one, and no one to take care of his future.” So each night he took a sack of grain and dumped it into his single brother’s bin.

Both men were puzzled for years because their supply of grain never dwindled. Then one dark night the two brothers bumped into each other. Slowly it dawned on them what was happening. They dropped their sacks and embraced each other.

Remember who you are! You are fellow citizens with the saints! Be faithful to your calling! Be strong! Stand fast in the Lord! Be rooted and growing in the Lord!

All of us carry the treasure of this loving Jesus, dwelling within us and working through us, fragile human beings – earthen vessels. We cannot expect to witness perfection. But, we must be willing to stand up and be counted among the saints who struggled, suffered, sacrificed, prayed, loved, and served as they tried to follow their master………..

Remember: You have been reconciled and called to the “very holiness of God”!

Fr. Gus Tharappel,msfs