Lessons from the Cross


Let us start 2015 by looking at the Cross & learning 3 important lessons to set the tone for our year ahead!
Lessons from the CrossIn the cross, the vertical beam is a symbolic representation our relationship with God. The horizontal beam symbolises our relationship with our human beings.
We build and strengthen our relationship with God through Prayer.
We build and strengthen our relationship with our fellow human beings through Service.

Lesson #1: One without the other wouldn’t do.

We shouldn’t be people who only selfishly pray for our own needs and those of our families (perhaps once a week on a Sunday or at a prayer meeting?) and neglect to serve the people around us.

On the other hand we can’t only be involved in Service without Prayer. Or all our service will be human without any direction or anointing from God – service, which will bear zero fruit in the long run.

Let us genuinely meditate if we are only doing one without the other & make a conscious effort to start building the other beam in our lives.

If you only pray & don’t do any service, you could start small by checking what sorts of associations or ministries are already functional in your church and where you feel most inclined to help out. You could help the poor, teach children, do outreach programs – the sky really is the limit! But start somewhere! Remember if you only say you have faith but do not do any service, then the Bible has this harsh truth to say of your faith “Faith without works, is dead” James 2:17

If, like me, you already are involved in various ministries (ministry = service), then sit back and look hard at your prayer life. Are you praying as much as you should? Are you giving of yourself or of the Lord? The Word of God is very clear on just service as opposed to God anointed service: “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labour in vain” Ps 127:1.
Which brings me to the next point;

Lesson #2: Our Prayer time should be twice our Service time

If we look at the beams, the vertical beam is twice the size of the horizontal beam. From this we could infer that our prayer time should be (at least) twice our service time.
If you fall into the first category where you only go for a Sunday Mass or Worship Service for about an hour or two (depending on your church) a week, then start with Service for ½ hour or 1 hour a week.

If you fall into the second set of people I spoke of, then count how many hours of service you do a week. I do about 3 hours a week. Which means I should be spending at least 6 hours a week in prayer (one hour a working day not so bad – yet I’m not doing it!). The weeks we have outreach programs etc, I need to be spending even more time in prayer!

Remember though, the prayer : service 2:1 ratio is not a hard and fast rule. God looks at our hearts and if we have for genuine reasons not been able to reach out in service or not been able to spend time in prayer, God will not chastise us. Nor is the timing something we should do mechanically (set alarm, go pray, yikes!). Instead it’s more of a guide, to show us where we are and where we should be in our prayer and service. If our God Jesus Himself spent the whole night in prayer and a good part of the day reaching out to people, it’s a good indication that we should follow suit!

Lesson #3: There is only One God. All Human beings are equal.

The Us -> God beam is singular. There is only One God. We as Christians need to put aside all idols! Anything we’ve given priority over God is an idol – be it money, careers, vanities of looking good & creating a social image, relationships with our families. A good indicator of whether something is an idol in your life is the amount of Time and Energies you put into any of those things as Opposed to building a relationship with God.

The Us -> all other human beings beam is singular. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Just like a good parent would love all his/her children equally and impartially, regardless of their behaviour and achievements, similarly we should look at everyone as equal to us.
Romans 10:12 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him”.

Do you look down on your maids or people in your society who you consider lesser than you, because of their lack of wealthy or looks or social standing? Do you run after people in power or people with fame & money? Neither of them are good.

Let us love all people like we love ourselves.
We see Jesus Himself telling us this in Matt 22:36-40 when asked,

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus not only spoke these Words, but lived them, in His lifetime on earth and in the culmination of His life as seen on the Cross.

Most of us have a cross somewhere put up in our homes, every time we look at them, let us remember these 3 lessons.

Wishing you a blessed 2015!

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Dealing with ‘Juniors’ at Church


This is my 18th year “in the Lord” – which is basically nothing but a very charismatic-ky phrase for saying it’s been 18 years since my first real, personal encounter with our beautiful Lord Jesus.

Recently some people who are new “in the Lord”, barely one/two year old, babies so to speak, due some positional placing within our group, have been telling me what to do, giving me instructions & telling me their opinions on things.

I was finding it a bit frustrating to deal with. However our wonderful Lord showed me a couple of wonderful things:

(01) Humility, Humility, Humility.

Every lesson we ever learn should lead us closer into becoming what God originally designed for us to be – beings created in His image.

The first sin recorded according to timeline of the Bible, was the devil’s Pride. It was Jesus’ Humility that led Him to the Cross to save us.

Could it be that I was coming from a place of Pride? – “I’ve been here longer, so I know better than you”. Yes, nail on the head.

While counting the years we “are saved” is a super awesome way to celebrate anniversaries with Him, we should also guard that it doesn’t make us Pharisaical in the way we deal with others, especially those who are newer in the faith.

While we might possibly know more than these babes in the faith, the way we instruct them also shows whether we come from Pride or from truly desiring them to grow in Christ.

We shouldn’t however assume we always know better – let’s be aware that God reveals things to ‘children’ in the faith that He may not to us, if we consider ourselves “wise and learned” –

“Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” Mathew 11:25

(02) Don’t be Envious of God’s Generosity.

Last Sunday’s Gospel, speaking out to me:

“When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’

But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.

Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ So the last shall be first, and the first last.” Mathew 20:1-16

JayDo I seek a higher reward because I’ve “been faithful” to God for so much longer than these little ones. Do I seek my reward in earthly titles, positions, honor? (The Prodigal Son’s ‘Elder Brother’ analogy works here too).

Do I realise how blessed I am to receive ANYTHING at all, despite who I am? In these years, if I admit it, it’s been GOD WHO HAS BEEN FAITHFUL to me always. And sadly the reverse has not always been true. So really, what I am grumbling about? Like David, I should be grateful even if I get to be a doorman in His House!

And (03) If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted

A secular principle that works just as well in the spiritual world!

The second God revealed His heart to me on the above two points, I was able to seek His forgiveness for the grumblings in my head and heart. He then also showed me His plan –  through prayer & also confirmation in the natural as well — greater than I could expect and already in motion!

If I was to however stick at where I was, considering myself to be irreplaceable – I would not only get replaced (by someone better!) but also I wouldn’t be able to move up into my God ordained spiritual destiny.


Food for thought & lots of learning for me for the future. Hope it also helps you!
And an apology for all my seniors in the Lord, whom I’m sure I’ve been quite a pain to in the past. What goes around, comes around eh? :)

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Displacing God, one place at a time.


I always say that I put God first place in my life.

But there are also lots of OTHER important things to me. Friends, Family, Work, Other Stuff (which in school would get categorized as Extra Curricular).

2014 NW Play

Last weekend I acted in a play.

It was super fun! We had an awesomely talented director. It was like being in a 2 month drama school. So much of new, fun learning.

However as the show drew near, rehearsal timings doubled. I found myself cutting down, and eventually missing out, on my daily Bible reading.

I had to miss a youth meeting (that I usually head), I even — missed Sunday Mass on the main show day.

In the middle of all that I was wondering when the play became so important in my life that I would let it displace God out of first position.

I know lots of other people were depending on me to be at practices, I know we had the Auditorium so sparingly and only at those timings, I know we were all burning the candle at both ends with practices….

But at the end of it all — It was ME who displaced God out of the position I claimed to give Him.

I have confessed.

But without learning, without resolve to not do it again – then the confession is only lip service.

Is there anything in your life that you give more priority to than God? Your husband or children? Your work? Your phone? Your email? Your tv programs?

Like the absolutely spot on song by Jimmy Needham ‘Clear the Stage’ goes:

Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
Anything that I give all my all my love is an idol

Let’s stop committing idolatory. And let’s put God back to first place like we say & like HE deserves.

 

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A Nail Biting Story


When I was a young girl, I started a bad habit – nail biting.

I didn’t bite my nails out of anxiety or fear – but almost anytime and everytime. If I was bored, I’d bite my nails. If I was watching TV,  I’d bite my nails. If I was studying, I’d bite my nails. Pretty soon it became a subconscious thing. I did it without even realizing I was doing it.

It didn’t bother me much growing up because in school we always were forced to keep our nails short (I had a strict convent schooling!) and I also studied & played Pianoforte throughout school and college and needed my nails short for that.

But then one fine day, I got done with Piano exams. I had also by that time, somehow managed to curb and eventually stop the nail biting (though it took a long time).

The problem is my nails still testify of my sins against them. Where all normal people have nails that curve slightly downwards, mine jut out and curve upwards.

my upward growing nails

Upward growing nails are also dangerous if you grow them because its then easy to snap the entire nail off (which praise God hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve heard it’s a  ridiculously painful thing)

Today as I do my best to manicure and take care of my nails, I’ve learned it may be years until my nail beds grow correctly back.

I wonder how much of our lives are like my nails. We start innocent (& some not so innocent) things – and we think they’re no big deal. But soon they become habits. Subconsciously they take over us. And even if we try to stop and eventually do succeed… we still beat the scars. Damaged lungs from smoking, damaged livers from alcohol abuse, damaged brain cells from drug abuse, damaged relationships from anger, damaged lives from sin.

Like my nails, we may not realize what we’re doing to our bodies until it’s a little out of control.

The good news (Yes, there is always good news with Christ!!) is that our Spiritual lives need not be like that!!

Our lovely Lord Jesus heals us from within. He changes our Scarlet sinful beings to whiter than snow!

In Christ we are spiritually NEW CREATIONS, no more in condemnation!

Let us not wait until a bad habit has gotten out of control. Let’s turn back to the Lord and ask Him to straighten things out in our lives.

He’ll turn everything in our lives to the right direction.

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Glorify God the Website – Gone Full Circle


Reborn Christian T-shirtGlorify God, in it’s 12th beautiful year – has gone full circle!

From being my personal blog (started in 2002) to being an Online Catholic Magazine with various writers from the world over (2008) and back again now, on the prompting of our wonderful Holy Spirit to a personal blog (2014 July).

I’m excited as God starts something new out of something old in this blog  – just as he does in my life every single day. I’m excited to see where HE’s going to take it. And I’m excited to Glorify Him through it all.

For all those who have faithfully followed this blog over the years, I pray that God blesses you through the insights in the coming year!

There are going to be LOTS of changes over the coming month(s) as I will have to re-categorize 12 years worth of posts! Since this is God led however, I believe it’s going to work out beautifully – better than I can imagine. Stay tuned – and re-tune with me!

To end, I’d like to give Special thanks to Abraham Jacob (who was one of the team when it was a magazine) who has been a holy driving force towards me reviving and reinventing this blog. To you Abraham, I say thank you. May God bless you for every good thing that comes out of this. Your blessings are stored in heaven.

In Christ,

Melody Laila

 

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St. Longinus: Close Witness to Jesus’ Crucifixion


st longinus

St. Longinus: 1st Century Martyr

St. Longinus was the centurion who pierced the side of Our Lord while He was hanging on the Cross. Longinus was chief of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion of the Lord on Golgotha. The legend of St. Longinus states that having been wounded in a past battle, he was blind in one eye. St. Longinus, was healed when some of the blood and water from Jesus fell into his eyes. It was then he exclaimed “Indeed, this was the Son of God!” [Mark 15:39].

Longinus was also the chief of the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Romans and the elders in Jerusalem learned of the Resurrection of Christ, they bribed the soldiers to spread the false news that Christ did not resurrect, but rather that His disciples stole His body. They also tried to bribe Longinus, but he did not allow himself to be bribed. Having come to believe in the Savior, Longinus received Baptism from the apostles, and decided to leave military service. St Longinus secretly left Judea to preach about Jesus Christ the Son of God in his native land (Cappadocia), and two of his comrades followed him. The fiery words of those who had actually participated in the great events in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity began quickly to spread throughout the city and the surrounding villages. After that, he withdrew to a nearby village on the estate of his father. Even there, however, he was not left in peace. Hearing that he was in Cappadocia, Pilate dispatched a company of soldiers to Cappadocia to kill Longinus and his comrades. St. Longinus foresaw the approach of his executioners and went out to meet them. He brought them to his home, not telling them who he was. He was a good host to the soldiers, and soon they lay down to sleep. But St. Longinus stood up to pray, and prayed all night long, preparing himself for death. In the morning, he called his two companions to him, clothed themselves in white burial clothes, and instructed the other members of his household to bury him and his companions on a particular small hill. He then went to the soldiers and told them that he was that Longinus whom they were seeking. The soldiers were perplexed and ashamed, and could not even contemplate beheading Longinus, but he insisted that they fulfill the order of their superior. Thus, Longinus and his two companions were beheaded. The soldiers took Longinus’s head to Pilate, and Pilate gave orders to throw the martyr’s head on a trash-heap outside the city walls. Many miracles were accounted for St. Longinus’s name.

Biblical references: All four gospel accounts the story of the centurion: Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47; and the piercing of Jesus’ side by John 19:34 -37.
The Feast Day of Saint Longinus is March 15th.
Patron of: the blind and people with poor eyesight, of labor, of power and of good discernment
St Paul (2 Cor 5: 17-21) says; anyone who is in Christ is a new creation; whatever may be his past that does not matter. Like St.Loginus who has reconciled to God and become ambassador of Christ; we all are called to be a new creation in Christ and his ambassadors in this World.

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Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception


indian stamp saint alphonsa

Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception (1910-1946)

Sr. Alphonsa Muttathupadathu is the first Indian woman to be elevated to sainthood by the Catholic Church. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Kottayam, Kerala in February 1986 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on 12th October 2008. The Sainthood of Sr. Alphonsa, a Franciscan Clarist nun, who died at an aged of 36, was a historic event for the 2000 year church in India.

Sr. Alphonsa was never known outside the convent walls until her death in 1946. There was nothing even remotely remarkable by human scales of judgment. She was a nun living in the confines of the Clarist convent in the remote and insignificant Bharananganam without any glitter or glamour which makes for stardom in the world. Even her funeral was attended only by a few of her family members and a small number of nuns from her community. But those who knew her closely could sense the sanctity of her soul. One such person was her Spiritual guide Fr Romulus, CMI. In the funeral oration as if being inspired by a prophetic vision he exclaimed, “In future, pilgrims from all over Kerala and India will visit this tomb of Alphonsa. Bishops and Cardinals will come and pray in front of it.” Down the years all this came to pass when Sr. Alphonsa was declared a saint and her tomb has become a teeming pilgrim centre.

Sr Alphonsa was born on 19 August, 1910 in a beautiful hamlet called Kudamaloor in the district of Kottayam in South Kerala. The child was christened Annakutty on August 27. Just three months after her birth Annakutty lost her mother Mariam and was entrusted to the care of her aunt Annamma. Her entire life from the earliest days of her childhood right until the last agony which ended in her premature death on 28 July 1946 was plagued by different forms of physical sickness and mental distress.

For her early years, Sr. Alphonsa experienced great trials and suffering. She endured not only physical pain of great intensity, but also the mental distress of being misunderstood and misjudged by others. In time, the heavenly father gave her a fuller share in the passion of His Son. Although she lived as a frail and sickly Clarist nun, mostly confined to bed, for only ten years, her sanctity slowly become evident to those around her. Even as she went through her many physical infirmities and ensuing mental turmoil, she bore it all with graciousness and courage fully convinced that her suffering had a higher purpose- that of sanctification.

Sr. Alphonsa accepted all her sufferings with serenity and grace, with an unwavering trust in God, convinced that suffering would purify her motives and help her to overcome all selfishness. Her attitude to unbearable pain and chronic ill health can be clearly understood from a letter to her spiritual director: “As my good Lord Jesus loves me so much, I sincerely desire to remain on this sick bed and suffer not only this, but anything else as well, even to the end of the world. God has intended my life to be an oblation, a sacrifice of suffering” (November 1944).

She died on 28th July 1946 and is buried at Bharananganam. The chapel where she is buried has now become a prominent Christian pilgrim centre in Kerala. Thousands of distinguished men and women of her time are now forgotten, yet Sr. Alphonsa remains a radiant beacon of hope inviting the whole world to a new vision of eternity by the message of her life. In a world that shuns suffering and pain, seeking only prosperity and well being, Sr. Alphonsa’s life demonstrates the sanctifying power of suffering and the significance of trials and tribulations in Christian life.

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