Women and Jesus

by Castilino  

This morning as I partook in the Way of the Cross with the staff of the Provincial house, a thought that struck me was the number of women who accompanied Jesus and had compassion on Him outnumbered the number of men who were with Jesus. I am sure there were more men than women at any given point of the last journey of Jesus from the point of condemnation to the Calvary. Yet only at two stations of the cross we see men 'standing by Jesus': Simon of Cyrene and John the apostle (at the foot of the cross). In a way one could include Pilate too... in a generous inclusion. But see the number of times women come out in support of Jesus: His mother Mary (along the way, at the foot of the cross till his burial), Veronica who breaks the security cordon and wipes Jesus' face, the women of Jerusalem whom Jesus comforts, Mary Magdalene who is believed to be with Mother Mary, all along.

And what triggered this thought?... participating in the way of the cross, there were practically all the lady staff members, in comparison to the just three or four men!! My experience over the years has always confirmed this belief of mine: Women have a stronger and deeper sense of the Divine than men... so too is their faith!

Jesus, the prostitue, the men and me... all alive!

by Castilino  

As the Parish Priest elaborated the most apparent themes that emerge from the Gospel of today, Jesus defending/saving the woman caught in adultery, my mind was recreating the scene with Jesus 'busy' writing something on the ground while all around him every man was baying for the blood of that lady. I visualised that poor woman, standing there surrounded by a crowd of men, not knowing from which side the first stone would come flying. I doubt if at all she was aware of the conversation and debate Jesus was having with those men. She knew there was no escape that day but the fear of waiting to be stoned, would have almost crushed her.

Looking at Jesus, I have my doubts: did He defend the woman (was He on her side) or was He attacking the men (was He on their side, preventing them from committing a crime in total blindness)?? But the solution he gives, saves EVERYONE! All leave the spot, ALIVE! What's more, each one leaves the place better than he or she was when they first reached the place. The woman, happy that she is alive, is given freedom ... not to sin anymore. The men, saved from turning to murderers, go home humbled by an introspection. I have a feeling, there would surely have been men who went on to stone other women caught in adultery... but not from that crowd which dispersed that day.

That's the beauty of Jesus' presence: everyone who comes in contact with Him cannot be the same as before. I now question myself: Can I claim the same about myself? Can I say that those youngsters whom I play with in the evening go home better because I was amidst them? Can the staff with whom I interact day in and day out, feel proud to be associated with me, because I make their lives better? Can those whom I meet on the way or deal with in the market, 'come alive' because they met me?

Lord, help me... as You helped everyone in today's Gospel!

St Joseph and Acceptance

by Castilino  

Somehow the idea of St Joseph being a martyr was not fitting well with my understanding of him... yet I am sure he had his share of woes! I remember sharing this thought with some of my oratory youngsters about Joseph and Mary, way back in 2000 (while I was in Nashik). What if the angel Gabriel appeared to a young couple and revealed to them what he revealed to Joseph and Mary two thousand years ago? Would they be so receptive? What would be their reaction? I still remember the look on the faces of my youngsters when I placed before them this supposition!!

For St Joseph to live all his life knowing that Jesus is not 'his' son and that Mary was not really 'his', would have been a real torment. But Joseph never compromised on his commitment and affection to either of them. I believe this was genuine and total. Now this is possible only if St Joseph accepted the fact stated above whole heartedly and with no ill feelings. Had he at any moment doubted or failed to accept this fact, life would have been miserable for him. But it wasn't!! He was totally at home that 'his' own were never 'his' alone! This acceptance brought about the best of him.

And by the way, Fr TV was fooling at table this morning: If St Joseph were to have lived today, he would have been behind the bars for marrying a minor!

Formation and Training

by Castilino  

I wonder if formation and leadership training are the same and can hence be dealt with in the same manner and module. It is said that to train a bull I should know how to train a bull, I do not have to be a bull. But does formation really take place in the same manner? Unless the formees see in living flesh and bone a person whom they ought to become, it will be like teaching to swim in a classroom. At least they need to envision a person or helped to envision a person in whom the ideals proposed are lived to perfection.

And I have a feeling that's the difference between formation and training: the latter swears by ideals and the former by ideals as embodied in a person!

Way of the Cross according to Simon of Cyrene

by Castilino  

If it were not for Anthic's repeated invitation to come for this evening's way of the Cross, animated by the Children of the Parish, I would have really missed an excellent moment of prayer and reflection. It was precisely for the reason that children were animating (enacting) the stations of the Cross that I almost decided make the Way of the Cross personally in our Chapel. Knowing very well the children, I knew for certainly it would be a comedy show. But how wrong I was... another prejudice blown to pieces by the very devout and prayerful performance of the children.

The theme was apt for the occasion. Though they did not spell it out, it was a journey leading us within ourselves to introspect and see how much we help others. Call it coincidence and before the Way of the Cross begun, it was this that struck me: Way of the Cross from the perspective of Simon of Cyrene.

The children were composed. No laughing, no giggling, no loitering or getting distracted... they were fully involved in what they were enacting. After their role, they silently came off the stage and sat quietly along with those awaiting for their part to enact. They read meaningfully, sang well and helped us all pray devoutly. God bless them!!

From Don Bosco, on sanctity

by Castilino  

As I was editing the Salesian Ordo, I came across this message on sanctity. It is from the life of Don Bosco and Dominic Savio. It is said that when Dominic Savio approached Don Bosco with the request to make of him a saint, this is the action plan that Don Bosco drew up for him:

1. Cheerfulness: Whatever disturbs you and takes away your peace cannot come from God.
2. Do you duty in the study hall and in the Church. Application to study and to work and to prayer out of love for God.
3. Do as much good as you can to others. Help your companions always, even when it costs you sacrifice.

... very providential that I should see it today!!

Poverty and asking the right Questions

by Castilino  

The several revealing facts that were brought to my attention over the past two days, make me a bit anxious. To hear such unbecoming behaviour patterns of confreres, that too young ones, is really alarming. Last night as I lay on my bed, after a long conversation with someone narrating another of such 'tales', I asked myself, "Is it only a question of motivation or is there anything else that contributes or does not contribute to such a wayward religious life?" Most of such deviant ways have their origin in matters related to finance and money.

I remember Fr Ivo telling us in Nashik, about the need to ask questions... not any questions but the skill of posing the right questions. I guess most of us become complacent with our religious life because we stop asking ourselves the 'right' questions (others and superiors have long since stopped asking questions!!). We never question ourselves. "Is this really necessary?" "Is this what I am here for?" "Will this really give me happiness and inner satisfaction?"

Learning from lost opportunities

by Castilino  

During the Formation Commission Meeting this morning, Fr Palli used a very amusing phrase... 'learning from lost opportunities'. He was of the opinion that most of our meetings and so called 'animation' programmes are nothing but mere inputs and discussions which ultimately repeat what is already written in the Constitutions. While I do agree that we need input sessions to widen our horizon, we cannot always limit our animation sessions to those... The animation sessions are a wonderful opportunity to evaluate, explore available possibilities, share experience and learn from one another's success' and failures...

Fr Palli's own example: If I am made a Rector again, I will surely join the Brothers for a cup of tea outside the house, once in a way!! That's NOT living by objectives but learning from missed opportunities!!

I give what I have

by Castilino  

It was a very good decision to move out of the Provincial house to have our recollection today. The venue was a neighbouring rehab centre for AIDS patients, run by the Sisters (about 9 kms from here).

Fr Thankachan's reflections were inspiring: We give out of what we have. Drawing lessons from the experience of the Germans who in the height of their bitterness between the East and West were looking for opportunities to humiliate one another, we see how the world looks at us. The East Germans once dumped a truck full of garbage at a West German crossroad. Though inclined to retaliate in a similar fashion, the West Germans 'returned the favour' with truckloads of food grains, medicines and clothes - with a small note: We give what we have!

A good exercise in Lent: to look into ourselves and see what we have within us; for that is what we give to others (confreres, people and God).

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