OFM Franciscans - India

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Christmas: An Expression of Dialogical Love

Let us all rejoice in the Lord, for our Saviour is born in the world.

Today, true peace has come down to us from Heaven! (entrance antiphon for the Christmas midnight mass).

May the lord give you peace, Brothers! This season is supremely a Happy Season. With those candles that we lit on the Sundays of Advent, symbols of faith, hope, joy and love, we began the 4 weeks long preparation for Christmas. And we are already there. I wish you all the grace and peace of this season.

I invite you Brothers to reflect on the “Need to Dialogue” among us to strengthen our life and mission as friars minor. During the Pre-Chapter of SPUTY Brothers, we dealt with the theme, “Dialogue”.

St. John, the Evangelist in the Gospel shares with us this aspect of Christmas. The prologue of St. John, which is unlike that of the Infancy Narratives in the Synoptics, is a wonderful proof of God’s love and dialogue, we call as dialogical love. The word became flesh and dwelt among us, says the Gospel, and he pitched his tent among us. The synoptics reveal to us the infinite pain of God when the angel brought the good news to Mary: you will bear a son and will call him Jesus, for he shall save his people.

While the exact date or year of the birth of Jesus is beyond the knowledge of gospels or scholars, we know through the gospels, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth was historical and at a particular situation in the lifetime of the people of Israel. The holy authors give us certain circumstances and the reigns of kings in and around the Holy Land. We know not why Jesus was born at this time. and perhaps it is not a question to be debated now as it is beyond our competence. We are however inspired by the desire, the will and the plan of God to engage the people of that time and continue even today, into an unceasing relationship, a dialogue and a conversation.

The efforts of Jesus in realizing the dialogical love were met with mixed reactions. There were some who willingly accepted him and others were simply stubborn. Some took advantage of the ‘time of liberation’ while others made mockery of it. Some were just waiting for this hour, like Simeon, while others were never convinced, like those in the hierarchy. But Jesus had to relentlessly go about doing what is good. Dialogue, reconciliation and making peace is an ongoing, relentless and tireless work. Not everyone has plans for it. Nevertheless, the work must go on. GK Chesterton in one of his poems, The Nativity says:

Have a myriad children been quickened,
Have a myriad children grown old, 
Grown gross and unloved and embittered,
Grown cunning and savage and cold? 
God abides in a terrible patience,
Unangered, unworn, 
And again for the child that was squandered
    A Child is born.

Jesus had an enormous patience and hence never gave up on the purpose for which he came down to earth. His mission was par excellence: to make peace, to reconcile, to win over to God, to free and to lead to a life of salvation and the dialogical love. It is this same mission we are called to embody.

The need for dialogue and reconciliation is very much the need of the hour globally and particularly in our country. The church in India too is going through a difficult phase in many ways. While the priests, religious and lay leaders are doing wonders in many places, few untoward incidents have shaken the church and the media coverage of the same has questioned the credibility of the Church as a whole. There is certainly a need for greater commitment towards peace and reconciliation, towards finding solution to conflicts. Following our Father Francis of Assisi, who is the model for dialogue, peace and reconciliation, we friars need to become the instruments of peace here and now. We as a Province too are in need of a more passionate and honest dialogue.

Dialogical love demands that one needs to scale off one’s inhibitions, tendency to judge, opinionated views, lack of charity and enter into an open dialogue with genuine love. With this realization, we can embrace the other happily. We shall not take refuge in blaming the past whether personal or communal but let us live the present with joy and look forward to future with hope.

It is important for each one of us to look within and address the issues and concerns affecting our personal growth and thus preventing us from contributing fully to the life in common in our fraternities. Freed from this inner struggle, I am sure, we will experience peace within and radiate the peace through our conversations with one another.

Once a Bishop said, “the Franciscan spirituality is the answer for most of the problems in the world today”. We need to once again walk the path of this great tradition of ours: the tradition of dialogue, peace and reconciliation. We have tried in the past, we try in the present and let us resolve to continue to engage ourselves in this path of dialogue, peace and reconciliation. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the only hope we have for our life and mission as friars minor.

It is my sincere desire to engage the other in dialogue with the genuine openness. But there were failures on my part for which I seek forgiveness and peace. With a climate of open dialogue and genuine conversation, we can rise above the personal differences and discuss about our life and mission in sincerity and open ourselves for the opportunities God provides for us.

Let this Christmas once again reign in us the spirit of dialogue and the spirit of brotherhood; let the birth of the Saviour, save us from all that is divisive, destructive, selfish; let this Christmas help us to grow in our human, Christian and Franciscan vocation.

We have one life and we have this precious vocation. We shall live it true to our vocation. As we come to the close of this year 2018 and step into a new year of 2019, we shall thank God for every friar of our Province, for the ministry he carries out among the people of God and for his life in the fraternity. We shall celebrate in gratitude the past year for God’s blessings in our personal lives and in the life of the fraternity and march ahead with hope in the coming year seeking God’s guidance and accompaniment.

It is our duty to remember gratefully the numerous well-wishers, our dear benefactors, the funding agencies and our family members. We, as a Brotherhood, have experienced the goodness and charity of so many people in the past year who keep helping us and providing for us. It is because of the generosity of such benefactors, we are able to meet our needs and carry out our ministries. We shall not forget those people who silently support us with their prayers. Let us remember them all in our prayers, especially during this season of peace, joy and love!

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

ST. FRANCIS

ST. FRANCIS

FRIARS' BIRTHDAY (August)

Date

Name of the Friars

Events

Year

01

Richard D’ Silva

Balaswamy Gundiga

Entry

Birth

1952

1978

02

Portiuncula

Feast


03

Julius Arul Rayan

Birth

1974

04

+ Bernard Henrietta

Praveen Roshan Toppo

Ravi Bara

Home

Birth

Birth

1981

1982

1995

06

Benedict Gomes

Augustine Tirkey

Birth

Birth

1977

1989

08

+ Marianus Kadasani

T.S.Leo Max

Home

Birth

2004

1995

11

+ Clare of Assisi

+ Sanctes Molenkamp

Feast

Home


1990

14

Jesu Maharaja

Pasala Showri Raju

Birth

Birth

1975

1987

15

Arok Sundar Sebastian

Charles Bernard

Felix Gassam

Francis Kaviyil

Chinnappan M. Devaraj

Amaldas Belevendran

Bobby V.T.

Birth

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Ordination

1951

1990

1990

1992

1992

1992

2000

18

Jamesmon P.C.

Ordination

2001

19

John Chrysostom

Ordination

1995

21

Vijay Amirtharaj A.

Birth

1979

22

Bhaskar Reddy

Birth

1973

23

Stephen Arun S.

Birth

1994

25

King Louis IX

Arun Devasia Nattalil

Akshay Showry Raj

Feast

Birth

Birth


1991

1994

27

Joseph Kishan

Birth

1995

28

Fidelis D’ Lima

Birth

1939

30

Arockia Raj R.

Birth

1959

31

+ Christopher Coelho

Home

2007