Art, pain and dreams

by Castilino  

It is said that the French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one who would not give up painting even in his last stages of life when due to severe rheumatism he could not even hold the painting brush. His desire to create beauty was far greater than the excruciating physical pain he had to endure.
The pain I suffer now is temporary but the beauty I create is for eternity.
Not very many people have the courage to endure pain and carry on with life or even dream and strive for something more, in those times of pain. But those who do carry on are either lunatics or great visionaries. But blessed are they whose pain gives them the strength to go on and whose dreams gives them the hope to fight on.

Faith tested in suffering and failure

by Castilino  

During Mass this morning, as the Gospel was being read out, I was picturising the whole scene in my mind... the interesting interaction between Jesus and Martha. Knowing that Jesus was on his way to their house, Martha runs ahead to meet Jesus. Torn between the joy at being with Jesus and her sorrow at the loss of her brother, she 'complains' to Jesus that His absence was really felt. Surprisingly Jesus gives her a theological discourse at that moment of sorrow and anguish. But the depth of Martha's spirituality is seen when she responds saying, 'I believe that all will rise on the last day'. Surely one does not expect to come up with such answers when one is drowned in sorrow, unless, this knowledge has become an integral element of one's own life and spirituality. Martha had not only listened to Jesus' teaching but also savoured the principles which Jesus went about proclaiming.

In our times of hardship and extreme sorrow, do we remember and have place for the Lord? Perhaps if we do not, then our spirituality is as fleeting as the morning dew which disappears with the first rays of the sun. The depth of our faith can be gauged when we can convincingly profess the creed right in the thick of our sufferings and failures.

Of Joaquim, Anne and the mustard seed

by Castilino  

Just before the Mass I had a small distraction: Were Joaquim and Anne granted the title of 'saints' purely on the basis of their parenting of Mother Mary? I was not surely... until the Gospel of the day. It speaks of the mustard seed and extols its virtues. It then struck me that just like the mustard seed, the tiniest of all, yet that which lives to its full potential, Joaquim and Anne were entrusted with a small responsibility. But that responsibility they fulfilled it with the best of their efforts and possibility. That was the specialty. They were not called to achieve great things or extraordinary things but to do the ordinary act of parenting the Mother of God, which they did in an excellent manner. They were entrusted with this task and they did it in a manner no one could outdo them.

'Litany' after Communion

by Castilino  

The whole custom of saying a 'litany' of prayers after Communion (during Mass) sounds a bit odd to me. Let me give an analogy: You write a long letter to a good friend of yours and just when you are about to post it, that friend himself appears at your doorstep. What do you do? Receive him in and read out the letter or tell him directly what you had written? I'm sure, anyone would converse with him, chat with him, share with him the news or information... not read out that letter or some other details. Why then treat Jesus like a stranger, as if He is far away and needs an official letter of thanks. Immediately after receiving Communion, He is IN me, close to my heart, in person. Why not then just talk to him face to face, converse with Him, say all that we want to say, thank Him for his intimate presence rather than recite prayers!!

The Better Samaritan

by Castilino  

I'd like to add something to the Gospel Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10: 25-37): The Jew going down the road to Jericho was ambushed, robbed, beaten and left for dead... the Priest passed by without as much as a word of consolation, do did the Levite. But the Samaritan took it upon himself to nurse him and get him to a nearby inn for further attention. (Now for my addition...) He left the inn to trace the very track the Jew undertook, in order to encounter the robbers who did this to the Jew. He met them in order to help them see what good they could do in life. He wanted to show them what great things God wanted them to do rather than get stuck in the wilderness, running, hiding, looting and bringing harm to fellow human beings. He went back to the route to ensure that no one ever has to endure what the Jew endured during his journey.

What the good Samaritan did was indeed praiseworthy, noble and courageous indeed. But what the 'better' Samaritan did was empowering; not just tackling the individual symptoms of a malice but tackling the very root of the issue. Given our potential today, we really can effect changes that eradicate some of the evils that plague our society... if only we can move beyond the 'single Jew' at hand.

Courage to believe

by Castilino  

Fr TV Thomas telling that St Thomas was a courageous apostle was quite amusing to hear. However he had his reasons: he was not one to be coerced into conviction about Jesus. Perhaps he was confident that Jesus would not have appeared or been partial to others (appear only to them and not to him after his resurrection). Furthermore, when out of fear all the apostles were huddled inside the room, what was Thomas doing outside? Surely one needed guts to be out, when all your human thinking forced you to stay indoors.

As I started preparing for the reflections for February 2011, the first day's readings reflected exactly the same thought: the courage to believe, especially when others around are waiting and watching as to who would say what and take what step. The woman suffering from the hemorrhage, the official whose daughter was declared dead, chose to believe otherwise in spite of the whole crowd's opinion and 'conviction'. Now that really calls for courage... courage to believe. And it is exactly that which assures their triumph... 'Go, your faith has saved you.'

Choosing between goodness and pigs

by Castilino  

This morning I was wondering what would be the reasons a whole town - mind you, not just some of them but the whole town - telling Jesus to leave them. That this 'request' comes after Jesus helps them get rid of the two troublesome demoniacs is quite strange. Perhaps, those people had only those pigs as their means of livelihood and when the whole crowd is lost they were really at a loss as to how they would survive. Or perhaps some of the richer folk or those against Jesus (for whatever reason) instigated the others in the town to not let Jesus in, for fear of causing greater damage. This is most often the case. The silent majority are driven by the few who have brains but not objective ideals. Another possibility is that they just loved the pigs more than the good done by Jesus!! Perhaps if Jesus were to have sent the demoniacs into just a couple of pigs who then ran off the cliff, the people may not have been that pissed off. However, the lesson is clear: Are we far-sighted enough to see the goodness and truth in an event or a person rather than the immediate loss or shortcoming?

The thrill of doing something for the beloved

by Castilino  

The post-resurrection tomb scene is an interesting one. There are the frightened guards, confused apostles, anxious women, (still) scheming elders of the religion, amused Romans... quite a sort of people in various moods and modes. Among all of these, the person of Mary Magdalene stands out for me the most. I see in her the perfect growth of a human person through the various stages of life to reach the culmination of it here at the tomb. Having blessed abundantly by Jesus, she follows him everywhere, even to Calvary and now here she stands at the tomb, still wanting to be with Jesus. All she wants is to have his body so that she can take it and perform the last rites. And when the Lord appears to her, she is thrilled. She holds on to him for she is too excited to think of anything else. Yet, at His word, she leaves. She is entrusted with a task and she is delighted to carry it out for Him.

Several times after that enactment of a Presentation Sister in Karunapuram (way back in 2002, all aglow, proclaiming, "I have seen Him!!") I tried to imagine a scene wherein someone indifferent or against this whole idea of resurrection, crossing paths with Mary Magdalene. They surely would have been made to shut up with a mere look of hers. The fact that she was a woman in a Jewish, would have not made any difference to her. For her all that mattered was that she had 'seen the Lord'. What more she knew that He trusted her with a task. There was nothing greater than that for the her to live and die for.

What if Judas did not betray Jesus?

by Castilino  

I thought Thankachan was only fooling when he said today was 'Spy Wednesday'... anyway...! I do not know who is the spy, Thankachan or Judas?

However, looks like poor Judas is made to carry the whole blame! Even Jesus speaks very crudely about him. Of course, to realise that one among your inner circle is a traitor is always painful; but I would (only in retrospect) ask this question: What if Judas did not betray Jesus? Would Jesus have still been crucified? I fear the answer is 'Yes'! It only happened to be that Judas was the one who politically betrayed him. Given the socio-political situation of the existing period, those baying for the blood of Jesus would have somehow got rid of him - by hook or by crook.

Dumping the blame squarely on Judas is only an escapism from introspection and personal growth.

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