TOPICS 1. Building Eucharistic Communities 2. Jesus the gift of the Father 3. Journey from Belief to Faith - Christmas 4.

Consecrated Obedience 5. Jesus the greatest Lover and Guru of Bethany 6. Option for the Poor 1. Building Eucharistic Communities
INTRODUCTION Our human minds can admire the ideal of community placed before us by Jesus when he revealed the three personed life of God. The human heart can desire it greatly too. The human will can even decide to imitate this ideal and try very hard to do so. But by his own strength and resolution man cannot come even close to its attainment; it is beyond him. Even of the first Christian community after Jesus’ death we read of Paul, Mark and Barnabas: “After a violent quarrel they parted company” (Acts 15:39) Because of the Fall, and a recurrent failure in the fullness of faith, we are continually plagued by our selfishness and controlled by subconscious instinctual drives. This makes man helpless to live Christian community as God has asked him to do it, without a new power and a new presence within him. EUCHARIST We receive this new power and presence through the Eucharist. It is not possible to establish Christian community by making laws about it and by drawing up punishments for those who fail. This eliminates the God given gift of freedom without which man cannot reach goodness at all. The experience of Christian community has to be one of experienced freedom, of controls from within, not from outside. Unless people want it, it is simply unattainable, because at heart it is an exercise in freedom.

You know that in the Olympic Games, one of the gruelling events in athletics is the marathon: about 28 miles. It often happens that some runners start very quickly, are in front for a third or half of the way, and then collapse unable to finish; they have lost all their reserve; and along the way, some drink or some food, especially sugar, is given to the runner to preserve and strengthen their energy; persevering efforts and renewal of energy are essential requirements to win this race. Saint Paul himself has compared Christian life to a race in the stadium; we know it is long, and tiring, if we start and fall on the way, it is of no use for us. Need to keep the life of Christ alive and strong in us all our lives, since it is the only way in which we can go to God our Father. Because of our human nature, again and again we need to deepen and foster this life of Christ in us, in a way, which will correspond to our human manner of living. The Lord has provided for this need by instituting Eucharist. This new power and this new presence which make community possible are available only to those who have truly died and risen with Christ by faith. Paul reminds the faith community at Colossae that they need not be guided merely by the principles of this world when he wrote: “If you have really died with Christ, to the principles of this world, why do you still let rules dictate to you, as though you were still living in this world?” (Col. 2:20) COMMUNITY The Christian model of life in community has two dimensions which other groupings and government styles usually lack. They are love and trust. These lead to deeper levels of communication and a type of government different from and more Christian than the other models of community. The members of a Christian community follow Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians: “If we live by truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ” (Eph. 4:15) The members of the Christian community care about one another, share with and bear with one another, submit to one another and serve the kingdom of God in themselves and in the world. To those who lack faith this model of living together is impossible and appears to be nonsense.

For the Christian person however, it is real, because Jesus revealed it to us through Eucharist. The community life is above just living together, from merely making pleasant noises, from simple common engagement on a project of work or from any form of mutual manipulation. In being a community we must care about, share with, bear each other’s burdens and submit to one another because of their love and also serve the world. CARING If we take Eucharist as a memorial of Jesus’ life here on earth we can understand better how Jesus cared for the people whom the Father had given to him. First of all He became a human person because of our love. He wanted to liberate us from our bondages. So He expressed his care and concern towards children, sinners, sick, hungry, outcastes, poor and downtrodden. Illustration: Jesus the Good Shepherd. SHARING Jesus’ infinite caring led him to complete sharing of himself with others. When Jesus began to tell his disciples and the people the secrets of the Kingdom God he intimately shared the knowledge that leads us to eternal life. Jesus shared in the aspirations, joys and sorrows of people when He humbled himself and began to move freely with everyone and specially when he took part in fellowship meals with the tax collectors and sinners. Finally He shared whole of His life when He gave His body and blood for our deliverance on the cross. This loving sacrifice we celebrate even today so that we might break ourselves to build up our communities. Illustration: Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross for us unworthy sinners. “All I have is yours and all you have is mine” (Jn.17: 1) When we can say this to one another, we can be sure that we have reached a high degree of Christian community. It is a very real and valid measure of the quality of our caring. BEARING First of all Jesus bore the burden of the Father by taking on himself the sins and sufferings of the world in reparation. Secondly, Jesus understood every person He came across. He had tremendous patience with his simple uneducated disciples. He was extremely kind towards sinners, Scribes and Pharisees. Though they questioned

him and accused of blasphemy he loved them so he would gently point out to them their sinfulness so that they might repent and turn back to God and experience salvation. SUBMITTING Jesus submitted to the Father’s will in total freedom “I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (Jn.15: 10). To submit to one another in love is another dimension of true Christian community. And to submit to the will of God discovered through community and expressed by the leaders is the only meaning of obedience for Christian adults. SERVING All true Christian community is for service to the church and to the world, but this service must again be modelled on the service, which Jesus offers to the world. God’s outreaching love and holiness came to the world in Jesus. This outreaching of God’s love was to offer us membership in his own kingdom by giving man a new life: “ I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full”. (Jn. 10:10). Referring to service Jesus said, “I have come to serve and not to be served.” Every Christian community exists for service to man, to offer man a better and fuller life here and hereafter; this is what we call apostolate whatever form it takes. It is only when I really accept the truth of Jesus’ words: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (Jn.14: 10) that the transforming experience of Christian community can begin in my life. CONCLUSION Other day I had gone to Mysore for a meeting and when Fathers asked me why Fr. Thomas did not come I replied, he is in me and I am in him. But latter on when I began to reflect I realized I am too far from this reality but those who heard me saying so did see the close bond that we have developed. On the contrary, I know a priest who is actively involved in building small Christian communities. He goes around giving talks and telling the Christians how to build genuine communities but once he comes back to his own community he does not

bother to care to anyone one. He is an isolated island. He is a perfect example to building walls instead of bridges.

5 Jesus the gift of the Father
♦ In what way can our community become a gift to the Church and the people around? ♦ Does our community bring more life to the people as Jesus did? ♦ What is it to live the Spirituality of Incarnation In our times Christmas has become very commercialized and very pagan. Many people are lured into over-spending as well as excessive eating and drinking. That’s all Christmas means to a lot of Christians. Example: Children at Japan People in search of green pastures and newness This is the best way to shut the doors of our life and heart to God. We keep on saying there is no room in my inn go elsewhere. A phenomenon that the Saviour experienced at his birth repeated even after 2000 years. “He came among his own but his own people did not receive him” (Jn 1: 11) He came to give life in abundance (Jn 10:10) but we who seek life, joy, peace, happiness and meaning in life continue to reject the source of all this. If we live like this how can we attain what we are looking for in our life time. Christmas introduces us to the mystery of the incarnation, that is, the mystery of God’s own Son taking flesh and coming to live among us. It is impossible to explore its height and depth. It is above all a mystery of love. God’s love for mankind in general, and for each of us in particular. Incarnation is an invitation to ourselves, to be the people we are made to become, and to achieve our destiny. We cannot find ourselves, or be ourselves, or achieve our destiny without Christ. The great Russian writer, Dostoyevsky, said: ‘While we are on earth, we grope almost as though in the dark and, but for the precious image of Christ before us, we would lose our way completely and perish.

Christ through his incarnation has given us a picture of who we are and what our destiny is. We are children of God, and are destined to share eternal life.

5 Journey from Belief to Faith
Many of us get stuck on the ‘Belief level’ of religion, and do not move beyond into the ‘realms of Faith’. Story of a girl’s journey from belief to faith Are we all as Christians sufficiently aware of the fact that faith is the greatest gift that we have received from God? Because we are born and brought up in traditional Catholic families we often take our faith for granted, thinking of it simply as something we have inherited and as something that will remain with us no matter what our attitude towards it is. This is because we identify faith with belief. But there is a great difference between belief and faith. The difference applies to the source, content and consequence. Belief generally leads to faith, but not always nor necessarily. Belief is comparable to the road and faith to the destination. I shall illustrate it with an example. Suppose I want to go to a new city. I walk down a particular road or street and finally arrive at the local railway station. I take the proper train. Once I reach my destination, however, I give little attention to the path I traversed. This metaphor can be applied to the journey from belief to faith. Belief is the well-known route I have learned; faith is the new destination I reach and explore. Belief has to be tested, carefully evaluated, and at times set aside to arrive at faith. One relevant question in this context is why do so many Catholics today leave the Church? Or, again, why do so many priests and religious abandon their chosen state of life? The ultimate reason could be that even after many years of life in a particular state they had failed to initiate the journey from belief to faith. Many of us get stuck in the belief level and gradually find life meaningless. In our quest for meaning in life we hop from one church to another or from one state of life to another. And the meaning of our life remains ever elusive. Once we arrive at faith it cannot be lost. It is different from belief. It can be lost or abandoned. The Gospels narrate to us the incident at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus confronts his closed disciples with the question. “Who do people say that I am? But Jesus was not really interested in knowing the opinion of the general public. His intention was to find out the ground his disciples had covered in their journey from belief to faith. So he continues to query the: “Who do you say that I am?” As always it was Simon Peter who spoke up for the group: “You are the Messiah, the son of the Living God.” Jesus responded to Peter, “ Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”. (Mt 16:13-16)

There may be something of relevance for our discussion in this episode. Jesus probably wanted to show that ‘flesh and blood’ (i.e. parents, teachers, preachers and books) could only pass on to us beliefs. But faith is gifted by the Father in heaven. It comes from God. The journey from belief to faith can be compared to the popular imagery of pealing an onion. When we take off the first layer; another comes up; then the next and the next’ and so no. At the end one is left with nothing except a whole lot of flaky layers. Interestingly, while pealing an onion one often sheds tears! May be there is some point of comparison between this and the journey of faith. Moving from belief to faith can be a painful process. While engaged in this journey one must sincerely question, critique and perhaps discard the purely human aspects of belief so that one arrives at faith. Once one arrives at faith, one becomes a transformed person, throbbing with new vitality, new life, new outlook and new vision. Such a transformation is evident in the lives of biblical figures such as Abraham, Moses, the prophets, the apostles, Paul etc. In fact, the Bible is replete with stories of people journeying from belief to faith. It is our turn to ask ourselves if we have initiated this journey from belief to faith, and if we have already covered, remaining on the belief level is not only unproductive, but may also be positively perilous. One may feel secure in this kind of stagnation; because going ahead or making the leap of faith always involves a risk. But as Christians and followers of Jesus we are all called to embark on the journey towards faith. This is what will enable us to experience the fatherhood of God and our position as his children. Wally’s Christmas Wallace was nine years old, but still in the second standard. He was not very bright, yet he was loved dearly by the others in his class. His school teacher asked him to play the role of the innkeeper for the annual Christmas play. The time came when Joseph appeared on the stage with Mary. Wally Joseph Wally Joseph far....” Wally Joseph : “What do you want?” : “We seek lodging.” : “Seek it elsewhere. The inn is filled.” : “Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have travelled : “There is no room in this inn for you.” : “Please, sir, this is my wife. She is with child...”

Wally relaxed his stiff glance and looked down at Mary. There was a long pause.

Prompter Wally

: “No! Go away!” : “No! Go away!”

Joseph and Mary started to move away slowly, Mary laying her head upon her husband’s shoulder. Wally looked, watching them go, his mouth open, his eyes filling with tears. Suddenly this Christmas play became different from all others. Wally : “Don’t go, Joseph, bring Mary back. You can have my room.”

The Spider and the Christ Child He was the littlest spider in all his family. Yet he could run faster than any of them. He was always playing hide and seek. “I shall teach you how to weave,” said his mother. “Then perhaps you’ll keep out of mischief. Idle hands do no good. You must learn that life is not all play.” Soon the littlest spider was weaving great and beautiful webs. “Such beautiful webs!” exclaimed his mother proudly. ‘God has given you a great gift. I hope someday you will use it to benefit others.” One cold winter day the littlest spider went for a walk alone. Suddenly, he saw a man leading a donkey, on which sat a young and beautiful woman. She was holding an infant close to her heart. “Joseph,” said the young mother. “ I ma tired. May we rest awhile?” The man looked anxiously up and down the road. No one was in sight. “There is a small cave close by,” he told her. “There you will be out of the wind and cold. Come!” As they reached the cave they were startled to hear hoof-beats in the distance. “Herod’s soldiers are coming for our Babe.” Sobbed the mother. “They will kill our little One!” She covered the infant with her shawl. Hurriedly they entered the cave. The little spider watched, then stood guard at the entrance. As the soldiers approached, he began to weave a web back and forth, across the opening. He worked so swiftly that by the time the soldiers reached the cave a fine and beautiful web had completely covered the entrance. “No use of looking in there,” one of the soldiers remarked, eyeing the web. “Evidently no one has been in the cave for a long time.” So they continued hastily on their way. And the Holy family rested in peace and safety.

5 Consecrated Obedience To Listen To God Like Mary
When St Francis de Sales expressed his idea of founding a religious congregation for women, he received advices from every quarter. To a priest who advised him to have the sisters barefooted, the saint replied, ‘Oh, no! You would like to start to educate them from the feet; I would like to start from the head. These sisters must first of all know how to obey.

We are living in a world in which every one wants to dominate, boss over, speak and dictate terms to others and no one likes to be dominated. No one wants to be a servant and no one wants to listen to the other. Modern people are for independence and not dependence. Dependence is taken as a sign of weakness. The world moves on this way. We committed people too are a part of this culture. We too do not want to do want God wants us to do. We want to be part of the modern world. There is a great danger in it. We see Superiors in the name of Obedience humiliating their subjects. This has done great harm to individuals and these individuals when finally professed instead of carrying out their responsibility are busy taking revenge. We have heard professed people saying; I will show the other how to be a superior. Jesus tells us if you want to be, great listen to me and do what I say. In this, we will find meaning of life and happiness. We are called to total renunciation of our will and try to live the self-emptying of Jesus who learnt obedience through suffering and death. Can. 601: “Obedience undertaken in the spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ, who was obedient even unto death, obliges submission of one’s will to lawful Superiors, who act in the place of God when they give commands that are in accordance with each institute’s own constitutions.” Of course, we cannot limit Obedience only to obeying to Superiors. It has various aspects. However, this one issue affects us most in our daily living. As I see, this is one of the major blocks in understanding God’s will and living our committed life to its fullness. Now let us spend some time knowing what is Obedience and how must I respond to this gift of virtue.

Vow of Obedience
Vow of Obedience is also known as Vow for partnership, Vow to Listen, Vow for Discernment, Vow for chaste use of freedom and Vow for Christ realization or Christ integration. Obedience is an antidote to pride and excessive self-will, the deepest obstacles to real love of both God and neighbour. It liberates from the worries and mistakes of a self-directed Christian life, a concern more subtle than those of family or

management of possessions. It is an immolation of free will, our most personal good, so that our will might identify more fully with God’s and be disposed to deeper love.

Nature and Purpose
1. Sacrificial aspect: In imitation of Jesus the religious makes a surrender of the will 2. Theological foundation: Will united to the will of Christ in the plan of salvation 3. Apostolic purpose: Though obedience the religious reaches out in service 4. Liberating effect: Obedience helps the religious to reach out and liberate humanity. 5. Psychological aspect: Through obedience religious experience belongingness, support, guidance and direction.

Obedience as Listening
The word obedience comes from the Latin word ob+audire meaning listening to the one who speaks. We listen with our ears, our mind and our heart. We listen to our God speaking in silence, prayer and reflection on the Word of God. We listen to the cry of other people. We listen to the changes taking place in the world. We listen to our Superiors and our Constitutions. Be alive to God, Self, One another and to the pain of the world. Thus listening we discern and respond dynamically. Obedience = renounce the world and power struggle to build a fraternal community (become humble) It is a call for availability – at the service of the community - made love for Christ and his Church It is to give life to others It is for liberation It is for partnership It is a search for God’s will It is individual and community discernment to perceive reality Obedience is to take initiative, dare risk and make choices. It is self-emptying so that we can be filled with God It is a movement from self-centered to other centered and narrow vision to broad vision. Mary’s fiat was not a passive resignation or a meek submission. On the contrary, it unleashed extra ordinary power. It allowed God’s energy to become Flesh. Mary’s fiat flowed out of her creativity, total freedom, self-emptying and detachment. In Mary’s obedience, the word becomes flesh and history became significant. Mary’s fiat transformed all things in Xt because her vulnerability was her strength, her surrender her freedom and her detachment her fidelity.

Obedience to Superiors
There are two kinds of authority: formal and personal.

Formal authority divides people into superiors and inferiors. It tends to make superiors tyrants and inferiors slaves. Personal authority turns those subject to authority into friends, cooperators and partners and those in authority into fathers, facilitators, guides and animators. Formal authority tends to make obedience burdensome, humiliating hurtful and distasteful, personal authority tends to make it pleasant, joyous enriching and liberating. Formal authority isolates the rank and file from the power elite. It makes them feel segregated and unwanted. Personal authority makes all, whether authorities or subjects feel understood, accepted and loved. It builds community and brotherhood. Formal authority holds people together by legal conventional and artificial bonds. Those thus united are strangers to one another because the live side by side for the sake of expediency, not solidarity. The aim of authority is to help, guide, facilitate and orientate the community towards togetherness, which is basically kind, cooperative and responsible. Authority is never mean to crush and lord it over people, to grasp what we want, to exploit others, to suppress individual freedom, to enforce compliance, docility or passivity by a kind of a social or cultural colonization. Superiors are there to satisfy the needs and aspirations of their subordinates not to, consciously or unconsciously, satisfy their own. A person in authority has been given a “trust” a “commission’ to serve the community to the extent of his authority. This is not a “privilege” but an obligatory role given in the interests of society. Conclusion The vow of Obedience consecrates the core of the human person to God. not only because it is one’s will which activates every human activity but also because the will is at the heart of what it is to be a free creature of personal dignity. One’s destiny is determined by the use of freedom, and fallen human nature is inclined to use free will independently of God and to the disadvantage of others. But the free embracing of God’s will is possible through Christ; such an embrace of God and his ways can become total, should God call a human person by vow to a way of life. Such total surrender frees God to transform a man or woman from his or her very center outward into a perfectly responsive partner in the fashioning of his Kingdom.

.5 Jesus the greatest Lover and Guru of Bethany
As I began to reflect on this theme I was confused and was not able to understand how Jesus the lover and Jesus the Guru could go together. Then Fr. Thomas and I discussed and came to the conclusion that we need to accept Jesus as our Lover or Beloved in terms of our desire to spend time with him, in terms of our inner longing to be with him, in terms of sharing oneself with the other and doing all in one’s power to keep the close to oneself. Yes, we need to fall in love in order to understand the heart throbs our master. Just as we can’t understand and know the other person to a great extent without falling in love so also we can not understand Jesus. So have you begun to love Jesus? Jesus is our Guru to the extent I sit at his feet and listen to him with my whole being and imbibe knowledge and wisdom to lead a God envisaged life. When I am in his presence His light falls on to me and I am purified to be like Him. Sitting at the feet of Jesus I learn precious and priceless lessons for my spiritual life. So Jesus needs to become my lover and guru each day of my life even though in reality there is a contradiction between these two terms. Secondly, When we say Jesus the greatest lover and guru we realize that we are quite far away from this ideal. It expresses our deep desire to be like our Greatest Lover and Guru Jesus. Just like the family at Bethany learnt to welcome him with great joy in their joys and sorrows I need to welcome him into our life.

Is Jesus my Lover and Guru?
Is Jesus the center (axle or pivotal) of my spiritual life? What makes me say so? Will our Lord say that I have chosen the better part? What is the better part according to you? What are the characteristics of my community that makes it a true Bethany home? (Lk. 10:38-42, Jn. 11:1-44)

Bethany Home
It is one of the most precious things in the world to have a house and a home into which one can go at any time and find rest and understanding and peace and love. That was doubly true for Jesus, for he had no home of his own; he had nowhere to lay his head (Luke 9:58). In the home at Bethany he had just such a place. There were three people who loved him; and there he could find rest from the tension of life. The greatest gift any human being can give another is understanding and peace. To have someone to whom we can go at any time knowing that they will not laugh at our dreams or misunderstand our confidences is a most wonderful thing. It is open to us all to make our own homes like that. It does not cost money, and does not need lavish hospitality. It costs only the understanding heart.

Bethany not a perfect home

There was clash of temperaments - One active other quiet. We have never allowed enough for the place of temperament in religion. Some people are naturally dynamos of activity; others are naturally quiet. It is hard for the active person to understand the person who sits and contemplates. And the person who is devoted to quiet times and meditation is apt to look down on the person who would rather be active. Different ways of expressing one’s love for the master. When Jesus came to Bethany it as a great day; and Martha was eager to celebrate it by laying on the best the house could give. So she rushed and fussed and cooked; and that was precisely what Jesus did not want. All he wanted was quiet. With the cross before him and with the inner tension in his heart, he had turned aside to Bethany to find an oasis of calm away from the demanding crowds if only for an hour or two; and that is what Mary gave him and what Martha, in her kindness, did her best to destroy. They show us the wrong type of kindness. There was sickness, suffering, death and loss and pain of separation.

Goodness of Bethany Home
They had Jesus as their friend They believed in Jesus (faith) They loved Jesus in their own way and according to their personality There is no right or wrong in this. God did not make everyone alike. One person may pray: “Lord of all pots, pans, dishes and things, since I have no time to be a saint by doing lovely thins or watching late with thee, or dreaming in the dawn light, or storming heaven’s gates. Make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates.” Another may sit with folded hands and mind intense to think and pray. Both are serving God. God needs his Marys and his Marthas too. There was love, understanding, hospitality, joy and peace at Bethany. No man can have a greater gift to offer his fellow men than rest for weary feet; and that is the gift which Jesus found in the house in Bethany, where Martha and Mary and Lazarus lived. There was concern for others. When Lazarus was ill the sisters sent a message to Jesus. It is lovely to note that the sisters’ message included no request to Jesus to come to Bethany. They knew that was unnecessary; they knew that the simple statement that they were in need would bring him to them. It was sufficient that Jesus should know for it is not possible that any man should at one and the same time love a friend and desert him. C.F. Andrews tells of two friends who served together in the First World War. One of them was wounded and left lying helpless and in pain in no-man’s land. The other, at peril of his life, crawled out to help his friend, and , when he reached him, the wounded man looked up and said simply : “ I knew you would come.” The simple fact of human need brings Jesus to our side in the twinkling of an eye. When Jesus came to Bethany he knew that whatever was wrong with Lazarus he had power to deal with it. But he went on to say that his sickness had happened for God’s glory and for his. With open eyes Jesus accepted the Cross
to help his friend. He knew the cost of helping and was well prepared to pay it.

So, to be a beloved and chela of Jesus I need to have a heart that of Him. So our prayer could be Jesus meek and humble of heart make my heart unto thine so that I can love you and learn from you and share this same warmth, sensitivity, care and concern with others.

Have a Heart
When the great nineteenth century Scottish explorer and missionary, David Livingston died on the last of his momentous journeys across Africa, his loyal bearers embalmed his body and carried it thousands of miles to the coast, from where it was transported by ship to London and a hero’s burial in Westminster Abbey. Yet, before beginning their epic pilgrimage, they took Livingston’s heart, and buried it at the foot of a great tree, to remain forever in the soil of the continent he had loved. In doing so, they showed with simple eloquence that they had understood the man, and had perceived what it meant him to be a missionary. For being a missionary is about having a heart. Being a religious is, for example, about whole-heartedness. A lukewarm, insipid missionary is a contradiction in terms. To become and be a religious is to discover yourself possessed by a dream, a vision, that is no vague, marginal interest, but rather a longing, a desire, that goes to the very depth of your being, that gives you no peace. “Woe to me,” said St. Paul, “if I do not preach the Gospel.” Today, of course, there are those who would have us think that the word “zeal” is out of fashion, and that to be keen is to be un-cool, but religious are not of their number. As the evidence of the facts continues to demonstrate, they are still ready to die for what they believe. Being a religious is, too, about being single-hearted. By this is meant no narrow bigotry, no unthinking fundamentalism, but rather that, for the religious, mission becomes the centre around which the whole of life takes meaning and from which flows energy, creativity, and daring. Here, too, religious today can at times feel out of tune with the time, when what seems to matter most is to pass from one “exciting” moment to another, with no other purpose than “to enjoy”. Religious, instead have a direction to their lives, than it is decisively away from themselves and towards others. Great-heartedness might perhaps sum up much of what is best about being a religious. The religious is not made for near horizons, but for far; not for home, but for away; not for the short-term, but for the long. The religious’ heart is moved by the joys and sufferings of all. However, especially for those experienced as brothers and sisters precisely because they are different and distant. In addition, where does the religious’ heart catch fire, become whole, single and great? Of course, there is only one place for all this to happen: it is in the heart of the one who is the Father’s religious and whose solemn feast is celebrated in the month of June. Truly to look upon the Heart of Jesus is to be drawn into mission and, in our own way and time, to have His heart.

7 Option for the Poor
Promoting the Kingdom of God by liberating the poor Preferential option for Jesus by opting for the poor

It is said Jesus came into this world not to take us to heaven but to bring the heaven to us. This is the mission of the Church and mission of us all – to bring heaven to others and specially to those who are oppressed due to any reason and in the process we too become hires of this heaven. God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them. “ Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you.” , you received without pay, give without pay.” It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When the poor have the good news preached to them it is the sign of Christ’s presence.

Poor in the Bible
1 Cor 1: 27 ff = Poor are powerless people. God wants to make them powerful. Poor are privileged of God. God is not neutral but is partial because poor are suffering and He wants to liberate them. Ex 3:14 Lk 4:16 Dt. 15: 4 – There shall be no poor among you. Covenant relationship stresses the responsibility of the community towards each person. Anawim = Oppressed, marginalized people. Totally dependent on God and very much open to God. Poor of Yahweh are willing to listen to God. Is 61 – Poor are people who are open to God and put the security on God and dependent on God.

Greedy people - unfaithful Living a life of injustice Natural tendency of each and every person is - to have, to possess, to rule and to dominate Our poverty should be giving up these tendencies. Mt 10: 17-22 – Rich young man Acts 4: 32-35 – Possessions kept in common to be shared by all. So trust God and not your riches.

The Mystery of the Poor
Our love for the poor is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to be able to give to those in need. It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty. The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works

of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity, it is also a work of justice pleasing to God. In its various forms – material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death – human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Saviour, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with least of his brethren. Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church.

Lk 2: 7 Jn 19: 23-24 Mk 6: 3 Mt 25:3 Birth in poverty Died naked Worked for his bread as a carpenter Whole life was dependent on God and he was doing the will of God.

We should opt for the poor because the poor are living in the periphery. They will be with us as long as selfishness and greedy of man remains. It is said there is plenty of richness in the world so as to ‘feed’ all the people in the world. But the greed and selfishness of man do not allow this to happen. Our option for the poor is governed by our option for Christ. This comes from our faith commitment. There is no metaphysical identity between Jesus and the poor. Identity comes from the historic saving aspect. Our option for Christ impels, should impel us to work for the poor. Christ stood and lived love and justice. E.g.: Good Samaritan Christ came into this world to do away with all sorts of poverty. He desired the salvation of all from all sorts of bondages – possessions (selfishness, greed, lust, insensitivity, attachments) blindness, deafness and barriers (social, cultural, religious and economical). He wanted to rise us all to a new life so that we can live in the presence of God. We wanted to set us free so that we can depend on God and not any thing else.

What is not option for the poor?
To glorify the poor To deny them of riches and become rich Manipulation of their majority power Party politics

What is option for the Poor ?
It is an existential option We see and experience and we evangelize them, in turn we are also evangelized by their life.

It is an evangelical option It is an epistemological option It is a theological option It is an ecclesial option It is a prophetic option It is an evolutionary option It is a human option It is a pedagogical option It is a priority option

Because Jesus also lived as poor and preached the Kingdom We can see, know, touch them. We really experience their living conditions, thirst, hunger, nakedness and quest for liberation. We study from Scripture and understand our commitment to the poor and tradition of the Church. Re-orientation of the Church in relation to its past and future. The prophets who really protested and opted for the poor. Adopting ourselves to the changing times and situations and responding to the signs of the times Respecting every individual as human person and treating them with due dignity and respect. I learn many things from the poor and also give my learning. This is our primary and fundamental task but it is not an exclusive one.