Monday, December 31, 2012


The year 2012 is now but just a memory. But it has been an  has been an amazing year for the Divine-Potta Ministry. There have been so many joyous events and moments in Divine and also during the international overseas Divine missions. The Divine-Potta Ministry is what it is because of the love of so many people to proclaim God’s Kingdom here on our earth. Our Friends of Divine network has been a great support for some urgent mission needs which Divine would have found very difficult to undertake otherwise due to severe financial constraints.

As  I look back to the Divine projects that our Friends of Divine network had supported in 2012, I know without any hesitation that we can say to Jesus- ”O Lord – Thank you for Your Grace  to enable us to share in the Glory of Your Kingdom here on earth!”   Many of you have been praying for Divine’s urgent needs and it is with deep gratitude, I thank all the Friends of Divine who  so promptly, lovingly and generously financially supported the two Friends of Divine 2012  Appeals as well as your regular support of Divine Charitable Trust’s  and Divine Television Ministry’s needs.

Blessed Mother Teresa is always a personal inspiration to me. She said, - We are all God’s children so it is important to share His gifts. Do not worry about why problems exist in the world – just respond to people’s needs … We feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be less without that drop.”

As I reflected on this quote again tonight, it struck me that is what each of us are - a vital drop of water. We are a drop of the Living Water – Jesus! Alone neither you nor I can do much. In fact, even together, we cannot solve all the world’s problems or even be able to pay for all the Divine-Potta mission needs. But there is a real reason for that. If God wanted, He could make the Divine mission debt-free and be the most financially successful retreat centre in the world. But that is not what God has done for Divine – He made Divine Retreat Centre the largest retreat centre in the world instead run by the priests of the Vincentian Congregation of India and a group of volunteers (including myself) who often remind me of the ragtag bunch of disciples that Jesus chose to be his Apostles!  Jesus did not choose the Jewish scholars or judges or multi-millionaires. He chose a tax-collector, fishermen and even a thief! It just seems so incredible that they (except Judas) were the foundation of the Catholic Church that has withstood over 2000 years of attacks by evil forces. That is also what the Divine-Potta mission is all about – it is about the Power of Prayer, Faithfulness & Total Trust in God, in Sacrificing Love and it is in allowing God’s Graces to flow into us towards others. We are not at all perfect but we persevere in God’s Goodness.

The Friends of Divine network started off with just a very small group of friends in Singapore in 2005. Our network is still rather small but it has grown to include Friends in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mauritius, Qatar and even one in Canada! Jesus does not look at the numbers. That is what I have truly learned in coordinating the Friends of Divine Appeals over the years. To Jesus, it is ALWAYS our heart – He has given us the capacity to love unconditionally as He loves us. Jesus will provide for all your needs AND He will also provide for our mission needs.

 We cannot all pack our bags and move off to distant lands or urgent mission fields to volunteer for God’s Kingdom – but you can volunteer your heart fulltime to God! There are many needs both in your neighbourhood, your parish and around the world. If you feel called and inspired, to also volunteer your heart to be the “drop of Living Water” to the world that the Divine-Potta Ministry is reaching out to, let us joyfully be “partners in Christ".

 We need your spiritual and financial support for our Divine-Potta mission – for the long-term care of 3000 sick and needy residents of the Divine Charitable Trust Homes and volunteers and for all the evangelization works especially the Divine Television Ministry that cost millions of Indian Rupees each month to be proclaimed all over the world via satellite TV and on the Internet.

The truth in this quote of St. Francis of Assisi pierces my conscience – The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today.” God is not asking you or me to do GREAT things. All He wants is our hearts to love others not just in words but through our actions too.

To be honest, there are times I fleetingly wish I am not in fulltme ministry and to have the ample resources of working again in a large multi-national company. It seems like we are forever climbing up a ‘FUNDING’ mountain but never ever reaching the peak! There are always URGENT Divine mission needs. I have no idea the true extent of the financial burdens faced each month - what I know already causes me to be faint-hearted if I really dwell upon it!

It is then the Grace of God empowers me NOT to give up – for I know God has put into my life others whose lives (like mine) have been radically transformed because of the Divine-Potta mission. I have the ‘courage’ to share Divine’s needs because it is our shared life mission for EVERYONE to know of Jesus’ Love  - just as He mercifully gave us  the amazing “Divine” gift for ourselves!

What we have shared in achieving through the Friends of Divine projects in 2012 and the past years is because we believed and shared in the “fruit” of the Divine mission. And Heaven rejoiced! In this New Year 2013, let us proactively help others experience the same radical Divine transformation that has never vanished from our heart.  We are all in this together.

I prepared the YouTube music video above, "YOU LIFT ME UP" by JOSH GROBAN to share some of my favourite Inspirational Quotes of Serving Others & Volunteering as a thank you to each of you – FRIENDS OF DIVINE  - as we live for Christ in this New Year 2013 and onwards! Have a Blessed New Year!

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Monday, December 3, 2012


Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

Jesus enters into human history as love that saves. Explaining the mystery of incarnation St. John writes, “God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) To perish was the fate of humanity before the coming of Christ. But when God emptied Himself to take on mortal nature in Bethlehem, the messengers of heaven announced it as the Good News of a Saviour being born for humankind (Luke 2:11). The gospels interpret the Incarnation of God as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah who revealed the mind of God that a Saviour will be born to take upon Himself our sin and our sickness (Isaiah 53:4-5).

“As I Have Loved You” (John 13:34)

This love manifested in the Incarnation has set the standard for all love ever since. Love is no more to be identified merely with feelings and emotions - rather it is a commitment to take up the responsibility for the beloved, especially in the failings of the other. “God proves His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  His death was in no way a penalty for his sins but was the penalty of the sins of humankind that He opted to take upon Himself. Scripture reminds us that He did it not out of any compulsion but as the response of love. “No man takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down on my own accord.” (John 10:18) The manifestation of the greatest love was from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross of Calvary. Any love that does not rise up to this standard of willingly offering oneself for the failings of the other is not of any worth. Jesus explains this teaching at length. "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” (Luke 6:32)  After having dismissed this worldly love of convenience He asserts that real love should be able to bear the burden of the enmity of the other. Hence he concludes “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.” (Luke 6:35)

Human relationships receive a different dimension with this teaching of Jesus. St. Paul while writing to the Ephesians applies Jesus’ version of love to the way husbands and wives should be related to each other. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) The expression of Christ’s Love for His Church consisted in nothing short of giving Himself up for her so that she may be saved. In the vision of St. Paul, Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. The people of God were in a position of helplessness being enslaved to the forces of evil. Jesus the bridegroom paid the price of ransom by His own life. As St. Peter reminds the faithful - “You know that you were ransomed… not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:18,19)
Jesus, speaking of human relationships, impresses on His disciples that any human relationship worthy of the Kingdom of God must be patterned on this Divine Love. There was a dispute among the disciples about who was greater and who was smaller and who should submit to whom. The gospel writer records of the instance when the brothers James and John approach Jesus with the recommendation of their mother that they should be given a higher position of authority with the Master. Here Jesus makes clear to them His mind that the relationship among the disciples should not be moulded by the standards of the world but by the nature of love that brought Him down from heaven to earth to take upon Himself the sins of humankind. “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)

 “He Emptied Himself, Taking The Form Of A Slave” (Phil 2:7)

At the Last Supper Jesus manifested this love in action as described in the 13th Chapter of St John’s Gospel. The chapter begins by the solemn declaration - “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” This ultimate love prompted Jesus to wash the feet of the disciples. The washing of the feet was not a mere act of humility and service - it was rather an act of saving the disciples. This is clear from what Jesus said to Peter who was shocked as the water flowed on his feet from the jar of Jesus who was kneeling down at his feet. He blurted out to the Master, “You shall never wash my feet.” (v 8)  The response of Jesus to this was, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” (John 13:8)  This utterance of Jesus bears much significance. He was explaining to the disciple that He was washing his feet so that his participation with the Lord may not be cut off. Jesus knew that Simon Peter was going to deny Him under the influence of satanic prompting. Jesus had in fact warned him,  “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren… Pray that you may not enter into temptation" (Lk 22:31- 32, 40). However, the love of Simon Peter failed him and he did deny Jesus! Jesus did not want that burden of sin to fall upon His disciple and took that burden upon Himself by becoming humble before him to kneel at his feet and wash that sin away. Thus Jesus proved the extent of His Love. After having demonstrated His version of love, Jesus gave the solemn declaration that this must be the nature of love that must prevail among His disciples. Hence Jesus said,You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.” (John 13:13-14)  Washing of the feet became the symbol of taking the burden of the mistakes of the other by humbling oneself before them.

“Even If We Are Unfaithful He Remains Faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13)

Already in the Old Testament there are glimpses of this sublime nature of Divine Love. The Book of Hosea is an action prophecy by which God reveals His Saving Love by urging the prophet to endure the unfaithfulness of his spouse and respond to this with a faithful love. Hosea had to go through the torturing experience of living for a woman who was unfaithful to him and repeatedly so! More painful was the fact that it was God who directs the prophet to take up this mission. His life became the prophecy by which man could gaze into the Heart of God. God would not punish man for his unfaithfulness - rather He shows His Love by enduring man’s unfaithfulness. Later St. Paul would write, Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Romans 5:20)

In the Book of Tobit, the Word of God urges the young man Tobias to receive his spouse Sara with such generous love. Tobias had come to Midian in search of a bride at the prompting of his father Tobit. He found the girl Sara and fell in love with her. That is when he comes to know that Sara had a demon. Raguel, the father of Sara, told him of the deadly nature of the demon that possessed her. This demon would kill the groom on the first night of the marriage. He was told that Sara was married 7 times and all the 7 men became victim to the ire of the demon. Tobias was shocked and shattered. At this juncture the Word of God came to a Tobias through the angel Raphael, Do not be afraid, for she was destined for you from eternity. You will save her.” (Tobit 6:17) The angel was explaining to Tobias that his love for Sara should rise to the standard of God’s Love for man and become a commitment strong enough to save her. God did not want Tobias to shirk his responsibility at the feeling of fear that his wife could become a liability for him. Rather God wanted him to become strong in prayer to accept his mission to save her. The angel directs Tobias to the way of salvation - “When you approach her, rise up, both of you, and cry out to the merciful God, and he will save you and have mercy on you.” (Tobit 6:17)

“His Love Is Perfected In Us” (1 John 4:12)

God gives this revelation to people when they turn to prayer in those moments they find themselves far too inadequate to understand or accept the burden the spouse had become. A couple came here for retreat from North India with their 3 children. The eldest son was very sick with a very rare type of disease that was killing him. During the retreat, he had to be admitted in the hospital. The father of the boy had wanted to take the boy to any super-speciality hospital in the hope of a cure. However before anything could be done, the boy died. The father was most shattered! I spent a few hours consoling both the parents. After a while, I thought I had to speak to the father about the funeral arrangements. I knew they would not be able to afford to take the dead body to their native place because he had only a small job with the Railways. The family had come here because of the free tickets available for him. However the Railways could not transport the dead body. I offered to make the arrangements for the burial in a church here. The father however would not think of it. He requested me between tears to lend him the money required to fly the body and the family to their native place - assuring that he would return the amount. He added that he wanted the tomb of the boy to be close to their home so that he could go and spend time in prayer there and after his own death, his wish was to be buried in that tomb.

While we were working out the travel arrangements, suddenly the mother of the boy broke down crying and told me that the boy was her child but not his. When he married her she was pregnant with this boy from a previous relationship. When she mentioned this, her husband continued to narrate how when he had known about this after the wedding, he was angry and shattered. In his bitterness, he decided to send her back to her parents. He went to the village parish church and cried the whole night - complaining to God that he was deceived. However during that night of prayer, he clearly heard a voice in his heart that God had given him the mission to save the woman he was married to and the child she was carrying. Though he resisted initially, when the voice assured him that God’s choice was for his welfare, his heart opened to God’s Plan for his life. His wife continued to share how he loved her without reservations since then - never mentioning the past. When the child was born, he celebrated joyfully and received the child with all his heart. Though they would later have two more children, this boy remained the apple of his eye.
In our day to day lives and busy schedules, we tend to become very practical in our attitudes and behavior patterns. In the process, we slip into an attitude where we imagine love to be an arrangement of convenience. In relationships, we are bound to get hurt and frustrated. It is in such moments that love becomes a challenge. There are people who become so desperate, they turn away from God and break these God-ordained relationships - making a mess of their lives. However in such trying situations, if we turn to God, we will find the Voice of God inviting us to ascend to the heights of Divine Love. Whenever man is ready to rise up to God’s expectation, the Spirit of God will be there to take us by the hand and lead us into His Ways. Such are the lives that glow as testimonies raising our hearts to what God can do with us. Mother Mary is the first in this line of witnesses who in the midst of all uncertainties could trust in God and surrender her life for love. Hence she could exclaim, “My soul magnifies the Lord… for He who is mighty has done great things for me.” (Luke 1:46-49)

“The Love Of Christ Controls Us” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

Family is the sphere of love. Relationships here are very dear and warm. Human lives find their value and meaning in the home. However the failures and disappointments are equally hurting leaving behind deep and defining scars. Prayer is the antidote. When we open our hearts in prayer at the moments when our natural and worldly orientations to convenience limit us from loving, God gives us the grace by pouring out His Love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

We are given a beautiful example in the life of John Newman, the first American saint. He narrates the circumstance of how in his childhood, he spoke which would become his last lie. The young John had done a mistake. When his father discovered this, he called the son to enquire of him. However fearing that his father may get angry, he quickly denied that he had done the wrong at all. His father’s eyes that were fixed on him slowly began to fill with tears. The muscles of his face began to quiver with grief. He closed his eyes with his hands as tears streamed down. Unable to bear the sight of his father’s tears, the boy ran and hid himself in the corner of a room and began to weep himself. He soon heard his father’s footsteps approaching him. The father held him gently and said, “John, I wept not because you made a mistake but because I failed to bring you up as a godly child. God gave you to your mother and me that we may raise you up to be a man of God. But we have failed Him. The father held him close to his heart. John Newman writes that ever since that incident every time he was faced with a situation where he was tempted to resort to a lie, the teary face of his father flashed in his mind, and he could not utter the lie. The tears of the father moulded him into saintliness.
The family is at the heart of the Christmas festivities. In this season, the family takes time out to be together with each other and to rejoice in the other. Love is awakened and the warmth of the heart is experienced in the presence of each other. However if the Feast has to effect a togetherness, the love manifested in the manger should descend to the depths of the heart of everyone. Beyond flashy decorations and party plans, Christmas should inspire everyone to gaze on the Face of God become man and take the courage to trust in this love. The more we take this love into our hearts, the more will we be able to commit ourselves to live out that love in our relationships. It is in this commitment that families are formed and everyone has a home.

Let Us Pray
Dear Lord, how magnificent is Your Love! You come into our midst to tell us that more precious than heaven is our life and salvation to You. Your Love gives us a value for our lives and has saved us from the pit of despair and abandonment. We open our hearts to You O God, and we pray make Your Home in our hearts that our hearts may open to love and save those You have given us.
Lord we offer to You all those homes that are broken because no one could stand up for each other. We pray this Christmas may Your Light shine on them that they may discover the celebration of life is in giving ourselves even when it hurts to build and serve the other.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Nzone Focus' host Allan Lee interviews  Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C. about Divine 's retreat experiences and about Divine Retreat Centre and of  Glen la Rive's personal testimony -- during a recent mission in New Zealand. 

Fr. Augustine Vallooran shares the remarkable story of how Divine Retreat Centre based in Kerala, South India, has grown by God's amazing Grace to become the largest Catholic retreat centre in he world  - over 10 million people since end December 1989. Father explains that "More than 30% of those who attend the retreats are non-Christians - everyone feels at home in the Presence of Jesus. Everyone feels the joy!"

Glen La Rive's personal testimony is inspiring - how a long-haired rockstar musician  (videoclips included)  caught up in the ways of the world is totally transformed through his first Divine retreat. Glen still remembers how he truly experienced God in Divine - "I found a strange peace...especially Fr. Augustine's words which were burning through me and counselling me - something which I have never experienced before in my life."  From then on, Glen has only used his voice "to sing for the Glory of God". Today, Glen and his wife, Teresa, are known all over the world as Divine's Singing Couple!

Nzone Focus is  New Zealand's only Christian news and current affairs programmes to be made and broadcast by Shine TV, on Sky Digital 111 & Freeview 25 in New Zealand.

Retreats are held every week of the year in Divine Retreat Centre (DRC) in English and 6 Indian languages. It is the largest Catholic retreat centre in the world.

Over 10 million people have attended retreats here since the Divine-Potta ministry by the Fathers of Vincentian Congregation of India opened Divine Retreat Centre in late December 1989.

Please do share this post with all your friends and loved ones who want to know more about the Divine-Potta ministry and about  experiencing a Divine retreat.

For more information, please visit the website:

Thursday, November 1, 2012


The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle on 30 November
Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.



Apostleship is a privilege of love. About those whom Jesus chose to be His apostles it is recorded that “He called those whom He desired and appointed them to be with Him and He trusted them to be sent out with His authority to continue the proclamation of the good news that He started, and to complete His work of salvation.” (Mark 3:13-14) This is an invitation we ourselves may have experienced. What this involves is well explained when we look on the lives of these chosen friends of Jesus. Among the twelve apostles, Andrew has certain unique qualities attributed to his apostleship by the gospel accounts.

“I Have Called You By Name, You Are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1)
From the earliest centuries Andrew was referred to as Prōtoklētos or the ‘First-called. The gospels describe how Andrew and his friend were standing with John the Baptist when Jesus passed by. In a moment of revelation, the Baptist could see that Jesus was the Promised One sent by the Father to save the world. He pointed Him out to Andrew and the other disciple declaring - “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). On this cue, Andrew and the other disciple immediately followed Jesus. Sensing some keen footsteps shuffling behind Him, Jesus would turn to them and ask them “What do you seek?” A key question that would prove the heart of the disciple. They immediately replied, “Rabbi, where do you stay?” (John 1:38)  Seeing that their hearts were set on pilgrimage and were not merely curious, Jesus would invite them to stay with him. This description of the first encounter with Jesus remains very significant because what began seemingly as a mere enquiry and interest led to a bond of friendship and communion. We are told that Andrew and his companion went where Jesus was staying and they stayed with Him that day.” (John 1:39)  In Biblical language, to go and stay with someone indicated loving acceptance and deep trust. This would remain a most momentous event in their lives for every little detail of the day was engraved in their hearts. Several decades later when the gospel was written down, they would still recall even the hour of their meeting. “It was about four in the afternoon.” (John 1:39)  This event had a lasting consequence for indeed later when the Lord formally appointed the twelve disciples, Andrew was one of them.

During the public ministry of Jesus, the twelve disciples had a special access to Jesus and in the early Church they took up a determining role. The call they received from Jesus gave them the responsibility to be the pillars of the new people of God. Israel, the people of the old covenant comprised the twelve tribes. The Church - the new people of God - was built on the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus. As Jesus said, “You who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28)  Thus they were assigned a special role of authority in the early Church, moulding the destiny of the people of God.

Looking at the apostles, we feel the assurance given by Jesus “I will not leave you orphans.” (John 14:18)  He has not left His people uncared for or at the mercy of any selfish individual to let His people go astray. A clear structure of authority was put in place after having opened His heart to them - “All that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)  The shepherding of the apostles has given the Church a stability through the centuries. One can say that when God was looking out for those after His own heart, the first one to be spotted was St. Andrew, the First Called.

“I Will Make You Fishers Of Men” (Matthew 4:19)

Andrew was not only the first called but also the first missionary to proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah. In the very first meeting with Jesus, Andrew immediately recognised Jesus as the Saviour and hastened to declare this to his brother Simon Peter “We have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41)  Andrew received this understanding from his master John the Baptist who introduced Jesus to everyone as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)  This title has its roots in Jewish tradition. It was for them a synonym for the awaited Saviour who would become a sin offering and take on their burden of sins. Hence when Andrew met Jesus, it was for him a precious encounter with the Saviour of humankind. He could not contain the joy and rushes to share it with his brother.

In the gospel account, there is a remarkable element about the call and response of Andrew. When Jesus met him along with his brother Simon at the shores of Galilee, the Lord gave them the promise - “I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)  Being a seasoned fisherman from Bethsaida, he took this role to heart. He knew that it involved a mission to gain people for the kingdom of God. Whenever he came to Jesus, he always brought someone with him to experience the salvation that he himself had touched in Jesus.

After having brought his brother Simon to Jesus, Andrew was all the time on the lookout to bring more people to Jesus. In an hour of need, when the multitude listening to Jesus at the end of the day were tired and hungry and the Lord wanted to give them something to eat, Andrew brought to Him a boy who had five loaves and two fishes (John 6:8-9). This initiative paved the way for the great miracle of the multiplication of loaves. The disciples, being hungry themselves,s showed their helplessness by saying that what Jesus had in mind was an impossible task. They murmured to Jesus, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5)  However Andrew took the desire of Jesus as a command and in his search, he found a boy who had something to offer.

Andrew finds mention in the gospels again at a significant moment heralding the days of the Passion when the Greeks came to see Jesus (John 12:20-22). They had approached Philip for this purpose. Philip brought the matter to Andrew who ushered them to meet Jesus. This encounter of the Greeks with Jesus became a moment of revelation on the universal mission of Jesus. Jesus said, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32)  The phrase “drawing all men” is a significant revelation because Jesus made it clear that His salvific activity was not to be restricted to the Jewish race but to the entire humankind. Andrew proved to be a powerful instrument in drawing people unto the Lord.

"Take Away The Stone" (Jn 11:39)

Andrew was such a man of initiative because of his genuine and lively faith. He shows us how to trust in the miraculous powers of Jesus - especially in our moments of helplessness and weakness. Importantly, he reveals that this trust should not amount to an irresponsible attitude of passive waiting for God to do everything. Definitely our salvation is a free gift of God. It is God who takes the initiative to save us and to provide for us in the hour of need. It was Jesus who saw the exhaustion and hunger in the multitudes gathered around Him and He made the decision to feed them for He had compassion on them. However, He waited for the disciples to rise up to their role as co-workers in the mission, for He had chosen them to collaborate with Him for the purpose of ushering in salvation. Andrew seems to have understood this sacred dynamics of interaction between God and man in the salvation of the world. That understanding led Andrew to go in search of something he could offer for God to act upon. Jesus respecting this effort accepted the offer, and in His infinite power turned it to food for the multitude. In fact Jesus would turn to the disciples to work out the solution “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He wants and waits for our responsible cooperation when He intends to act on us and through us on others.

The gospel records how when Martha complained that Jesus had been late in coming to save her family, Jesus challenged her to respond in faith by accomplishing two duties. Firstly He invited her to trust in Him and wait for God’s glory to be revealed through Him: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” (John 11:40)  Martha whole-heartedly put her confidence of faith in Jesus. “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” (John 11:27)  Jesus then leads her to the tomb and to the second challenge: to roll away the stone sealing the entrance of the tomb. Here Martha is reluctant for she knew all that must come out would be the strong stench of the dead body. Jesus prevailed on her to act on her faith. Clearly Jesus waits for Martha to play her role in His mission of saving the family.

We find this sacred dynamics of man-God interaction even in the first miracle of Jesus at Cana. Jesus commands the family to fill the jars with water. In fact these were jars meant for the ceremonial washing and were put away after all the guests had washed their feet and sat for the banquet. The water and the jars were not relevant anymore for the celebration of the marriage. Jesus wanted the family to step out in faith and fill the jars with water. He then commanded them to serve from the jars. They obeyed though this command was against any all human reasoning. Only when the command was obeyed was Jesus able to do the miracle of turning the water to wine. The family was restored to celebration.

Jesus sees a paralyzed man lying by the pool of Bethzatha, hopeless and abandoned for 38 years (John Chapter 5). Jesus had compassion on him and wanted to heal him. Yet what the Lord would first do was to ask the sick man if he wanted a healing. In his human logic the paralytic reasoned that this was impossible as he could not rush into the stirred waters, assuming this was the only way to healing. And despair had gripped him. Dismissing his reasoning, Jesus instead offers him a future by asking him to “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” (John 5:9)  This was a challenge indeed to rise above his human reasoning and act on Divine command. When he obeyed, he could feel strength radiate through his limbs. He walked into his future in faith.

"Here Am I! Send Me." (Isaiah 6:8)

Indeed faith in the love of God should not make anyone take a careless and lazy attitude to life. St. James warns us - “Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17)  I remember a couple coming for retreat complaining about their son who married a girl they did not approve. Hurt by their reactions, the son was living away from the parents and even from the church. Two years earlier when they had come for the retreat, they got a message in prayer that the son would return to them. Their grief was that God had not kept His promise for there was not a sign of reconciliation. I enquired of them what they had done to work out the promise and get the son back to the family and the church. They said they were constantly praying. I read out to them the passage from the letter of James exhorting us to cooperate with God in the work of salvation (James 2:14-24). I explained to them that the message meant that God had already taken the initiative to save and with this encouragement God expected them to be fishers of men. In faith, they had to take every step possible to gain the son to God and to the family. They only continued to complain that the son would not even answer their phone and would never receive them. I told them openly that these are human ways of evaluating God’s work. If they believed that God had taken initiative to save the son, they should boldly be ambassadors of God to effect that salvation in the son. I asked them to pray for a couple of days more during the retreat and wait for a light from God to show the path to reach their son. Two days later, the father came and told me that his own brother was close to his son and the boy would respect the uncle’s intervention. I encouraged him to approach his brother in faith and prayer. In a year’s time God was able to complete what He had initiated when the parent collaborated in faith. The son and his wife returned to the parents.

A person who believes in God should wait upon God as Isaiah did in the temple. Then was he sent out to do what God desired. Isaiah understood the mystery of God’s intervention in human lives and offered himself to go where God wished to work salvation.

“The Lord Is Glorified By The Humble” (Sirach 3:20)

It was at the banks of Jordan while he was still a follower of John the Baptist that Andrew learned the first lessons of discipleship from the Baptist Himself. Introducing Jesus as the Saviour of humankind, John the Baptist concluded “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)  In fact the ministry of John the Baptist was so acclaimed and popularly accepted that even the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem had gone to Jordan to enquire if he were the Christ. Indeed many people had thought that he was the Messiah expected by every generation (Luke 3:16). Even the king was in awe of him! His throne was shaken up by the thunderous voice of John calling everyone to repentance. But John was clear about his role as the voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way for the Lord (John 1:23). As soon as the Lord appeared on the scene, he retired to the background and was unceremoniously eliminated in the dark dungeon of Herod’s jail.

This attitude of discipleship engraved in the heart of Andrew made it easy for him to accept the mystery of death and resurrection that Jesus tried to inculcate in the disciples. When Andrew had brought the Greeks to Jesus, he noted the radical teaching of Jesus that suffering was indeed the path to life. It was a revelation about the glory of the cross that by His self-immolation on the cross would humankind be saved. Jesus had explained “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies… it bears much fruit” (John 12:24) This is also where Jesus clarified the pattern of death and life in living Christian discipleship.

While the lesson of discipleship was difficult for his brother to digest as Simon Peter would remonstrate “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22), Andrew could live it out. As we see in the gospel, everyone he brought to Jesus became more prominent than himself. His companion John was favoured as the beloved disciple. His brother Simon whom he introduced to Jesus became the most prominent in the band of the disciples as its leader. Andrew, though the first called did not belong to the inner circle of disciples which included Peter, John and his brother James. This however does not seem to have made Andrew sour rather his heart was opened to accept the cross of his Master generously. Tradition records after being whipped severely, his body was tied to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words - "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach for two days from the cross until he gave up his spirit into the Hands of the Lord. 

Andrew reveals to us the treasure of apostleship. The trust Jesus placed in him as the first called was honoured by Andrew by his total commitment to his Master. He could abandon all selfish thoughts about himself being on the centre-stage and rejoice in being a fisher of men - bringing people to his Lord. Finally he offered himself on the cross for the mission that his Lord had placed with him. This great disciple reveals to us the sacred lessons and apostleship to be lived out by us who are called to continue the mission of the Lord in our generation.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, we thank You for giving us the gift of St. Andrew to go ahead of us to reveal the noble way of true discipleship. You have called us and trusted us in Your great love to be Your witnesses. Lord may we always treasure this Call and live worthy of it. Lord, fill our hearts with the joy of salvation that we may seek only Your Glory O Lord. We offer all those whom You have called along with us and we thank You for their precious ministry and gifts. We thank You, Lord, for revealing to us through St. Andrew that we need to step out and prove our faith by works. Give us the courage and grace to glorify You that all may be drawn to salvation in You.