The Baptism of the Lord

The Baptism of the Lord
by Fr. Rufus Pereira

Have you ever wondered why the Gospel narratives of the ministry of Jesus begin with the episode of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan, which may seem to be such a trivial incident? Or why Pope John XXIII made the Baptism of Jesus the first Feast of the Ordinary Year of the Church, immediately after the Solemnity of Epiphany, which may also seem to be surprising? Things became clearer to me, when I noticed that the memorial in the Canon of the Mass in the Syro-Malankara rite, calls to mind not just the death and resurrection of Jesus, as in the Latin rite, but even his baptism in the River Jordan. For in the early church then, as reflected especially in the oriental rites now, the Baptism of Jesus was not just one more story in his life, - but it is a mystery, on par with the great mysteries of his Incarnation and our Redemption (i.e. his death and resurrection), - in fact connecting them both in a meaningful salvific whole.

Jesus was now filled with the Spirit (Luke 4:1)
As I re-read the Gospel story and mystery of the Baptism of Jesus, I saw in it the capture of a vision and the beginning of a mission, - a turning point, so to say, in the life of Jesus 'as man', for the gospels tell us almost nothing about Jesus before that event. In fact people would later on say in astonishment, "How can he do all this? Where did he get such wisdom and the power to work these miracles? Isn't he the carpenter, the son of Mary?" (Mk 6:2,3). For in the eyes of his countrymen Jesus was like anybody else - there was nothing to distinguish him from the rest of the village. So something did happen to him in the Jordan. It couldn't be that Jesus came there simply to be baptized by John the Baptist, for John was on the contrary preparing the people for Jesus through a 'baptism of repentance'. But Jesus went through this baptism, which he obviously did not need, to publicly identify himself with sinful humanity, becoming one like us by taking upon himself all our weaknesses.

It was after this act of emptying himself of his glory that the heavens were opened and the real Baptism took place from above to prepare Jesus for the people. Heaven opened before him and he saw the Spirit coming down upon him and He heard the Father speak to him, "You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you" (Mk 1:10,11; Lk 3:21,22). In other words, he had a vision of his messianic task and an experience of special anointing for it. For he was now filled with the Holy Spirit, receiving the wisdom to know what to do and the power to enable him to do it (Lk 4:1). He was now aware that he had received the authority from the Father to preach the Good News of Salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit to heal the sick and deliver the oppressed - and all could see the difference.

His very reading of the Scriptures in the synagogue made them gaze at him in amazement. His teaching was strikingly new in content and given with an unusual authority. All the sick were healed by a mere word or touch. Those possessed by Satan were allergic to and afraid of his very presence. Peter found it hard to believe that a man could command the seas and the winds to obey him. He would later reveal the source of such incredible authority and power to Cornelius: "God had anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the power of the Holy Spirit and that is why Jesus went about doing good and healing everyone who was under the power of the devil" (Acts 10:38). But this experience was meant to be an example to and a channel for his apostles and his disciples down the ages.

And the believers were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4)
For what happened to Jesus at his Baptism happened in a certain degree to the Apostles at Pentecost. Before that day they were all so slow to understand the teachings of Jesus, so reluctant to pray with him, whether at Tabor or in Gethsemane, so jealous of one another, so ambitious for power and prestige, so suspicious even of Jesus, even ready to use violence to save their own skin, - and that in spite of being with Jesus for three years, listening to his captivating words and witnessing to his marvelous deeds. But just head knowledge or human talent would not change them or their situation. For that they would have to wait, Jesus impressed upon them, to receive power not from below but, as he himself did, from above, a power that was not something but someone, - the Holy Spirit. After nine days of waiting together with Mary in prayer, the promise of the Father was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, as the Spirit came upon them, like a mighty wind rushing from heaven and filling the house, and as tongues of fire resting on each one of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).

And immediately after their Pentecostal experience, they threw open the closed doors of the upper room where they were hiding out of fear and ventured into the streets of Jerusalem praising God unabashedly. That same terror stricken Peter who denied Jesus when confronted by a mere maidservant now dared to proclaim him boldly to the whole of Israel as the only Savior and Lord, with startling results. That same doubting Peter who sank like a rock could now heal the lame man with a faith as strong as a rock in the power of the Spirit within him. No threats or punishment would stop him from speaking about what he had seen in and heard from Jesus, even counting it a joy to suffer for him. And under his leadership the first Christians were one in heart and mind, even pooling all their resources together so that there was no needy person among them (Acts 4:32).

So you too must be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18)
What happened to Jesus in the Jordan, what happened to the Apostles in the Upper Room, has been happening to the Church during all these twenty centuries, - but in a very special way during the last four decades through the many and varied renewal movements in the Church, in answer to the prayer of Pope John XXIII on 25th January 1959 for a New Pentecost in the Church in order to usher in a Renewal that would be manifested by Signs and Wonders. The Holy Spirit has indeed been coming down upon God's people, as it did upon Jesus (Lk 3:22) and upon Mary and the Apostles (Acts 2:4), and God is now with them in power (Acts 10:38), and Jesus is working in them with wonders (Mk 16:20). But are we becoming more aware that we too have received the same Spirit (Acts 19:2). Are we letting the Spirit fill and control our life? (Eph 5:18). Let us therefore make our own the third Eucharistic Prayer, "Father, grant that we, who are nourished by the body and blood of your Son, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ."

O Batismo do Senhor 

por Padre Rufus Pereira 

Alguma vez você já se perguntou por que as narrativas do Evangelho do ministério de Jesus começa com o episódio de João Batista batizando Jesus no Rio Jordão, o que pode parecer um incidente trivial? Ou por que o Papa João XXIII fez o Batismo de Jesus a primeira Festa do Ano Ordinária da Igreja, logo após a solenidade da Epifania, que também pode parecer surpreendente? As coisas se tornaram mais claras para mim, quando notei que o memorial no Cânon da Missa no rito, chamadas de rito Sírio-Malancar veio à mente não apenas a morte e ressurreição de Jesus, como no rito latino, mas mesmo seu batismo no Rio Jordão. Para a igreja primitiva, então, que se reflete especialmente nos ritos orientais agora, o Batismo de Jesus não era apenas mais uma história em sua vida, – mas é um mistério, comparável aos grandes mistérios da sua Encarnação e nossa Redenção (ou seja, sua morte e ressurreição), – na verdade, conectando-os tanto em um todo salvífica significativa. 

Jesus estava agora cheio do Espírito Santo (Lucas 4: 1) 
À medida que eu relia a história do Evangelho e do mistério do Batismo de Jesus, vi nele a captura de uma visão e o início de uma missão, – um ponto de viragem, por assim dizer, na vida de Jesus 'como homem', para os evangelhos não nos dizerem quase nada sobre Jesus antes daquele evento. Na verdade, as pessoas, mais tarde, no dizer atônitas: "Como ele pode fazer tudo isso? Onde ele conseguiu tanta sabedoria e poder para trabalhar esses milagres? Não é ele o carpinteiro, o filho de Maria?". (Mc 6: 2, 3) para nos olhos de seus compatriotas Jesus era como qualquer outra pessoa – não havia nada para distingui-lo do resto da aldeia. Então, alguma coisa aconteceu com ele no Jordão. Não podia ser que Jesus veio ali simplesmente para ser batizado por João Batista, para João foi ao contrário era preparar as pessoas para Jesus através de um "batismo de arrependimento". Mas Jesus passou por este batismo, que ele obviamente, não precisava, para identificar-se publicamente com a humanidade pecadora, tornando-se um como nós, tomando sobre si todas as nossas fraquezas. 

Foi depois desse ato de esvaziar-se de sua glória que os ceus se abriram e o verdadeiro baptismo teve lugar a partir de cima para preparar Jesus para o povo. O ceu abriu diante dele, e viu o Espírito Santo descendo sobre ele e ele ouviu o Pai falar -lhe: "Tu és o meu Filho amado, e congratulo-me com você" (Mc 1: 10, 11. Lc 3: 21, 22). Em outras palavras, ele teve uma visão da sua missão messiânica e uma experiência de. Unção especial para ele para ele agora estava cheio do Espírito Santo, recebendo a sabedoria para saber o que fazer e o poder que lhe permita fazê-lo (Lc 4: 1). Agora ele estava ciente de que ele havia recebido a autoridade de Pai de pregar a Boa Nova da salvação, o poder do Espírito Santo para curar os enfermos e libertar os oprimidos – e todos podiam ver a diferença. 

Sua própria leitura das Escrituras na sinagoga fez olhar para ele com espanto. Seu ensinamento foi surpreendentemente novo em conteúdo e dados com uma autoridade incomum. Todos os doentes eram curados por uma simples palavra ou toque. Aqueles possuídos por Satanás eram alérgicas a.. E com medo de sua presença. Pedro achava difícil acreditar que um homem poderia comandar os mares e os ventos a obedecê-lo. Ele viria a revelar a fonte de tal autoridade incrível e poder a Cornélio: "Deus ungiu a Jesus de Nazaré com o o poder do Espírito Santo, e é por isso que Jesus passou fazendo o bem e curando todos os que estavam sob o poder do diabo " (Atos 10:38). Mas esta experiência era para ser um exemplo para e um canal para seus apóstolos e os seus discípulos ao longo dos séculos. 

E os crentes todos foram cheios do Espírito Santo (Atos 2: 4) 
Para o que aconteceu com Jesus no seu Batismo aconteceu em um certo grau aos Apóstolos no dia de Pentecostes. Antes desse dia todos eles foram tão lentos para entender os ensinamentos de Jesus, tão relutantes em orar com ele, seja no Tabor ou no Getsêmani, tão ciumentos uns dos outros, tão ambiciosos de poder e prestígio, tão desconfiados, mesmo de Jesus, até mesmo dispostos a usar a violência para salvar sua própria pele, – e que, apesar de estar com Jesus por três anos, ao ouvir suas palavras cativantes e testemunhando a sua maravilhas. Mas apenas a cabeça conhecimento ou talento humano não iria mudá-los ou a sua situação. Por que eles teriam de esperar, Jesus imprimisse sobre eles, para receber o poder não de baixo, mas, como ele mesmo fez, a partir de cima, um poder que não era algo, mas alguém, – do Espírito Santo Depois de nove dias de espera, juntamente com Maria em oração, a promessa do Pai foi cumprida no dia de Pentecostes, quando o Espírito veio sobre eles, como um vento impetuoso do ceu e enchendo a casa e, como línguas de fogo que descansam em cada um deles, e todos foram cheios do Espírito Santo (Atos 2: 1-4). 

E imediatamente após a sua experiência pentecostal, eles abriu as portas fechadas do cenáculo onde estavam escondidos por medo e aventurou nas ruas de Jerusalém, louvando a Deus descaradamente. Nesse mesmo terror atingidas Pedro, que negou Jesus quando confrontado por uma simples serva agora atreveu a anunciá-lo com coragem a toda a Israel como o único Salvador e Senhor, com resultados surpreendentes. Nesse mesmo duvidando Pedro, que afundou como uma pedra agora podia curar o coxo com uma fé tão forte como uma rocha no poder do Espírito Santo dentro dele. Não há ameaças ou castigo iria impedi-lo de falar sobre o que tinha visto e ouvido de Jesus, mesmo contando-lhe uma alegria de sofrer por ele. E, sob sua liderança os primeiros cristãos eram um só coração e mente, mesmo reunindo todos seus recursos em conjunto para que não havia entre eles necessitado algum (Atos 04:32). 

Assim, você também deve ser preenchido com o Espírito Santo (Ef. 5:18) 
O que aconteceu com Jesus no Jordão, o que aconteceu com os Apóstolos no Cenáculo, tem estado a acontecer à Igreja durante todos estes vinte séculos, – mas de uma maneira muito especial durante as últimas quatro décadas através dos muitos e variados movimentos de renovação no a Igreja, em resposta à oração do Papa João XXIII em 25 de janeiro de 1959, um novo Pentecostes na Igreja, a fim de inaugurar uma renovação que seria manifestada por sinais e maravilhas. O Espírito Santo tem, efetivamente, vindo a descer o povo de Deus, como fez sobre Jesus (Lc 3:22) e sobre Maria e os apóstolos (Atos 2: 4), e Deus agora é com eles no poder (Atos 10:38), e Jesus está trabalhando neles com maravilhas (Mc 16:20) Mas será que estamos cada vez mais conscientes de que também nós recebemos o mesmo Espírito (Atos 19:2)? Será que estamos deixando que o Espírito preencha e controle a nossa vida (Ef 5:18)? Vamos, portanto, fazer a nossa própria a terceira Oração Eucarística: "Pai, concede que nós, que nos alimentamos do corpo e sangue de seu Filho, possamos ser cheios do seu Espírito Santo, e tornar-se um só corpo e um só espírito em Cristo."

004 Jesus Forgives and Heal Us

Jesus Forgives and Heals Us

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus, already I can see a remarkable difference between yesterday morning and this morning. Yesterday morning I saw so many faces still filled with sadness. But now, when I came here on the stage, I found greater joy on you faces. And you were singing more joyfully than yesterday. And therefore, in the words of Saint Paul, Christianity is a religion of peace. A peace which is in the heart, because only if there is peace in the human heart will there be peace among the nations, among the people. Politicians are trying to have only an artificial out of peace, among people whose hearts are still filled with bitterness and hatred.  And the Christian answer is that there cannot be peace in the world unless there is peace in every human heart. And that interior peace can only come to a deep experience of the Lord’s inner healing. Again, in the words of Saint Paul, Christianity is the religion of love, not only love towards God but more in a way among ourselves. The problem in the world today is too much hatred. Love, however wrong, is still love. But the problem of the world is hatred and what Christianity, authentic Christianity, is offering the world is love. If there is no love in the heart you cannot call yourself a Christian. And thirdly Christianity is a religion of joy and the Lord wants us to evangelize thru the joys in our hearts and thru the joy in our faces. And therefore in every church in Brazil, the Sunday, Eucharistic celebration must be celebrations of joy. But joy can only come about if there is peace in all of those attending the Eucharist. Only if there is love in the relationships.

Yesterday morning, we spoke about God, our father, and we said the Bible says of God that God is love. And Jesus tells us to pray to God calling him father. And Saint Paul says our father God, is a God for us. For us. If God id for us, says Saint Paul, who can be against us? And I told you yesterday that the name I prefer to give God, our father, is a God for us, the God by our side, the God that is always tending for us. Then we spoke about the greatest gift of God our father to us and the greatest gift of God to us is Jesus, His only son. And the Gospels give us a special name of this Jesus, it says that Jesus is God with us. He is Emanuel, with us. That is how the Gospel begins, by saying that a little baby that is just born is God with us. And how does it end? By Jesus himself saying I am the God with you, I will be with you always until the end of times. And as we read the Gospels we will see that Jesus comes to do two main things. One is something negative, that we may not be in sin, that we may not be physically sick, that we may not be emotionally broken, that we may not be under the power of Satan. But don’t forget that Jesus has come to also do for us something positive, to give us peace which the world cannot give, to give us a power that only God can give, to give us the new life that can only come thru the Holy Spirit. And this morning I want to continue by telling you what Jesus is still doing for us today.

As I said yesterday the most important thing that Jesus has come to tell us that we have in God our father who wants us to be perfect and Holy but who is always ready to forgives us if we go the wrong way. He is more eager to forgive us than we are ready to ask for forgiveness. And therefore is thru our repentance that we open ourselves to God’s forgiving love. And how is it possible that that love can so forgive and wipe out our sins? And the Christian answer is only one it is by the death of Jesus in the Calvary Cross. The answer for the evil and suffering in the world given by many religious philosophies today is to close our eyes to these sufferings, to try to do away with it, to forget them, to try thru every mean to take them away from our lives. But the Christian answer is to be aware that for as long as we live in this world there will be sin, there will be evil, there will be sickness, there will be death. But with Jesus we can conquer all these things. And Jesus by his death has come not only to conquer death, but to conquer the fear of death. And therefore the cross is the Christian response and the Eucharist is the daily celebration of the Easter mystery, the death and resurrection of Jesus. One of the most beautiful stories in the Bible is a special incident in the passion of Jesus and to understand this incident I want to tell you a sort of modern parable. There was a prisoner in the jail and he was condemned to death. And one day, the jailer comes and opens the door of that jail, the jailer. And tells him “you are free.” And this prisoner could not believe his ears. And he told the jailer “but why am I set free? I know I’ve done terrible crimes. And I know I deserve to die because of my crimes. Tell me what has happened?” And the jailer said “Come, I will tell you.” And he took him out in the street and pointed out to him a hill in the distance and he said “Do you see that hill? Do you see on the hill those three crosses? Well that center cross was meant for you” and the criminal said “Then what has happened?” and the jailer said “Somebody else has taken your place.”

Now, you know I am not telling you (applauses) rather I am relaying to you a fact of history. When Jesus was to be condemned to death and Pilate wanted to save Jesus at any cost, Pontius Pilate. You know how many attempts Pilate did to save Jesus? Because he knew Jesus was innocent. Finally he thought of an brilliant idea, he knew that at the time of Passover the Jews had the privilege of having one prisoner set free for them. And Pilate said “I know I have in jail the worst prisoner I ever had and his name is Barabbas, but I will bring him before the people and I will tell the people ‘choose whom do you want to be set free’” And Pilates was sure that no one would want Barabbas to be set free. Barabbas was a notorious robber, the Gospel tells us. He had killed so many people, he was like Hitler, worst like Stalin, or like Milosevic.  Nobody wants him to be set free. And Pontius Pilates was sure that everyone would want Jesus to be set free, so many of them had been healed by Jesus and therefore Pilates said with certainty “choose which one you want to be set free.” But you know how crowds can be swage in any way and the leaders began to impress on the crowds not to choose Jesus to be set free. And the crowds asked for Barabbas to be set free. And Jesus was put to death in place of Barabbas. Barabbas is you and me.

Saint Paul says all of us have sinned. Sinning in the Bible is not only doing bad things, is also not doing the good things we should be doing. In the Bible sin means falling short of God’s expectations of us. And therefore Saint Paul says in the Roman’s letter “do you think that you Jews are better than the gentiles? Do you think that you Jews are better than the pagans?” And Saint Paul says “not at all. All of us, the Jews and the Pagans, we have sinned.” If Saint Paul was here just now he would’ve asked us the same question. Do you think you, Catholics of Brazil, are better than the Hindu’s of India? And Saint Paul would have said “not at all”. All of us have sinned, then the Bible says that the wagers of sin is always death, therefore, conclusion, all of us deserve to die. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. But, and this but is the “but” of salvation, Jesus has died in our place. He has taken upon himself all our sins, all our sufferings, all our wounds. And in the tremendous words of Saint Paul “Jesus who we knew had no sins became sin.” Became sin, so that we could become his holiness. But because Jesus died in our place, we don’t have to die anymore. This is the Christian meaning of salvation. What does salvation mean specifically for the Christian faith? Is the experience and the assurance of forgiveness of sins. Everything else is secondary. But this is what Christian salvation means.

Many years ago there was a series of murders in a town in India. Many, many cases of murder then and for one year the police could not find the causes, the perpetrators of these murders. Finally they found out the four assassins. They were all young people, from very good and rich families, Hindu families. And when the magistrate was passing judgment on them he said “this is one case where I have a pleasure on passing judgment of execution.” Because the whole country of India had an aversion towards these four cynical assassins. Because they had killed these ten people, good, innocent people, only for the joy of killing and for the greater joy that they would never b discovered by the police. And the leader of these four when he heard the sentence of death passed on him only smiled a cynical smile. And then came his time in the prison. And people were sending him many books to read. And there was a charismatic group in that town. They were sending him bibles and Christian literature. At first he threw them aside, but he had nothing else to do, he began to read them. And then he wrote to his mother “Mommy, the only book I now read is the Holy Bible.” And then came the day of his execution and as he was being taken up to the scaffold to be hung, the magistrate asked him “do you have one last wish?” and he said “yes. I would like to read the Holy bible” and he opened the bible on Luke’s Gospel, chapter 23, where we have a very strange story of two criminals being crucified together with Jesus.

I used to often wonder why the beautiful story of the passion of Jesus was spoiled by the mention of a name like Barabbas? I was still most surprised why the beautiful stories of the sufferings of Jesus was spoiled by the mention of two criminals with Jesus? In fact, the Gospel speaks of Jesus as the other criminal, the Gospel tells that Jesus was crucified with other criminals. As if Jesus too was a criminal. And we read there the story of what happened as Jesus was hanging there on the cross the high priest and the Pharisees began to taunt Jesus, began to ridicule him, and to tell him “if you are the son of God, come down from the cross. And we will believe in you.” Even the passers by began to make fun of Jesus and to say the same thing “if you are the son of God, come down from the cross. We will believe in you.”  Even the soldiers said the same thing “if you are the son of God, come down from the cross. And we will believe in you.” If Jesus had come down from the cross we would instead be hanging there. And then the thief on the left hand heard what his people was saying and he also told Jesus “if you are the son of God, come down from the cross. Save yourself. And save us also.” What did Jesus do? Jesus kept quite. That was the last temptation of Jesus. It was not the temptation in the agony of the garden, but Jesus conquered it by saying “Father, not my will, but your will be done.” Jesus knew, he had the power to free himself from the cross, did he not say “I could ask my father for a legions of angels.” Did not Jesus say “I have the power to lay down my life and I have the power to take back my life.”  And Jesus did not say anything. And when the thief on the left hand found that Jesus was not doing what he wanted him to do he began to curse Jesus. And what did the thief on the right hand do? He heard all this and then he turned to his friend, the other criminal, and said “why are you abusing this innocent man? If we die is because we deserve that. We are criminals, but this man is innocent. He doesn’t deserve to die. And I fell if his is dying he is dying for us.” And now comes the worst, this is what I want to tell you this morning, and then the thief in the left hand said in a tremendous act of faith, in a way the greatest act of faith in the whole bible, turned to Jesus and he said “Lord I know, in the eyes of the world you are about to die, but to me it seems as you are just beginning to live. In the eyes of the world you are a criminal, but to me, you seem to be God. In the eyes of the world you seem to be an ordinary human being, a carpenter, but to me, you seem to be king, the king of kings. The Lord of lords.” And then he cried out to Jesus “Lord do not forget me, remember me, when you shall come into your kingdom.” Could there be a greater act of faith? Then a man telling a dying person “you are alive”, a human being “you are the king of the world”, a criminal “you are God”. And what did Jesus reply? Jesus with his heart broken because of our sins, Jesus from his heart which was filled by compassion, turn to this criminal on the right hand and he said “today” today, not tomorrow, not in a distant future, “you will be with me in paradise.”

That criminal from the town in India read these two verses, from Luke’s Gospel, chapter 23. He closed the bible, gave it back to the magistrate, went up the scaffold and was hung. The whole of India still thinks he was India’s worst criminal, but we know, a few of us know, that he is with Jesus in Paradise.

My dear brothers and sisters, that incident in the passion of Jesus is not meant to be a story that happened 2000 years ago. Today, the Lord is asking us which side of the cross we want to be? Do we want to be on the left hand side? And to be aware of my sufferings and my problems and to tell Jesus “Take away my problems. Take away my sufferings.” And when Jesus does not do that maybe to curse Jesus. There was a young man in Bombay that was very, very sick. But before that I went to see a young lady that was sick and she was just 18 years old and unfortunately she died. She belonged to a very religious family, daily communicants. But at the funeral when they came to take away her body for burial in the cemetery of the church her mother began to be hysterical, her mother began to cry out, her mother began to scream, her mother began to shout, her mother began to curse God. Or would you rather be on the right hand side? And as the thief on the right hand side, know your problems, know what sufferings you are going thru, know the pains and hurts of your heart, and then you just pray to the Lord. And you tell the Lord “Lord, I know yours will be the final victory in my life.” And to just praise him for all his suffering. I went for a funeral of another person. A young man, belonging to the charismatic prayer group, he was suffering from leukemia and he died. He was the only son of his parents. But throughout the night there was singing and praying and for the funeral, I was there for the funeral, singing and praising God with everyone. I was there with my piano and accordion.

(translator interrupts – You should bring it here next time. Audience applauds)

And the people asked these persons the next day at the offices, Hindus asked Christians the next morning,  “tell us more about your religion. If there could be so much joy even in a funeral there must be something in it.”  The parish priest who was anti charismatic when he saw the joy and praising at his funeral for the next few days would speak about it at all his masses. And then he came into the charismatic renewal. My dear brothers and sisters, where would you rather be? On the left hand side of the cross? And know your sufferings and problems and when nothing is happening, curse God? Or would you rather be on the right hand side? And know your sufferings and problems and praise God. Because as I praise God my problems become smaller and smaller. And God becomes greater and greater. Choose where you rather be.

My dear brothers and sisters, therefore I speak again and again, that the greatest healing we receive is the spiritual healing. The healing that comes about from the experience of God’s forgiveness towards us. When we repent and come back to our father. As I said yesterday Jesus has also come to heal the human heart and to heal us even to our past, which is incredible. Has come to heal our family background. He has come to heal us when we were in our mother’s wound. He has come to heal us when we were in our childhood. And I feel, and I have been saying this everywhere, that this aspect of Jesus’s ministry, inner healing. It is so important and necessary that every human being in the world must have gone thru a process of inner healing, must have said a prayer for inner healing, if possible, even gone to a retreat for inner healing. Some years ago, I was giving a retreat to sisters and the mother general, and the mother superior, the general of that congregation, brought a woman to be prayed for. And this woman had a baby and the sister told me that from the time of his birth the baby had not slept. It was four months old and more than that it was screaming and screeching day and night. And it was contorting its limbs. They took that baby to many doctors, to many pediatricians, to many psychiatrists, but there was no success. So we prayed over the baby, there was some improvement. The baby was now able to sleep one hour a day, which was obviously too little. Then the nun happened to tell me that the woman had told her that when she was pregnant with the baby she had a very great shock. So then I told the sister “why didn’t you tell me this before I prayed? Now send for this family.” Because in the mean time they had gone back to their village. “I am going to the next town to preach a retreat. And send them to that place. Because I feel that that baby will not be healed accept by the power for prayer.”  At the last day of the retreat, the parents came with the little baby. I was happy when I saw them entering the hall. And what did I do? I asked one of the sisters to hold that baby and to be on one side. And I put the mother in the center of these 80 nuns making the retreat. And I told the sisters, after I told them about the shock the mother had, that we were going to pray for the mother, not for the baby. Or rather, for the baby through the mother. And as we were praying for the mother, the baby stopped crying and screeching. And as we continued praying for the mother, the baby fell into a deep sleep. And thru out those two hours praying meeting with a lot of singing and clapping and shouting, although not as much as you did last night. I thought the baby would get up and start crying and screaming all over again, but no, the baby was fast asleep. They wrote to us two weeks later that from that time the baby had been sleeping practically the whole day and the whole night.

Maybe to make up for the lost sleep. Maybe because I prayed too much. You know prayer is like medicine, you cannot pray too much. And this was one of the most beautiful things in our ministry, praying for babies in their mother’s womb and praying for us retrospectively when we were in our mother’s womb. And wonderful things can happen instantly.

Again, there is something else that Jesus came to do. Not only healing us spiritually, but forgiving our sins. Not only healing us emotionally from every fear even when we were in our mother’s womb. But even physically from all of sicknesses that come our way. And the Lord Jesus is doing today the same thing that he did along time ago. But above all Jesus has come finally to deliver us from the power of Satan. All this healings will not be sufficient, will not be adequate, unless we are also freed from the power of Satan in our lives. Some years ago, I was giving a mission in a certain town in India, the evenings were meant for the sermons, for the talks. And in the mornings we were hearing confessions, praying for people, counseling them. And as I was about to finish the person with me, there was a confusion at the door and I saw three women dragging a young girl into my room. And this girl was shouting “let me go! Let me go!” And then I asked the women “what is happening? Where does she want to go? Where is she pointing out at?” They told me “Father, she is pointing at the cemetery. She wants to go to the cemetery because we found her there as we were coming to the church. And we found her there about to kill herself and we stopped her just in the knick of time. And we dragged her by force to this place.” And this girl was getting violent, she was about thirteen years old.  And she was shouting  “let me go! I want to go there!” And then I held her hand and I said “I won´t let you go unless you tell me why you want to kill yourself.”  She wouldn’t tell me at first but when we prayed by the power of the Holy spirit even the demons have to open their mouths and speak. And finally I got the whole story from her.  She was studying in the eighth standard, eighth standard, in high school and two years ago she had failed in the examination. And she had to repeat the class. Last year, she had failed her exams again and she repeated the class again. And this year, she had done her exams so badly that she was sure she would fail the third time. But this is the first thing I want to tell you, this is how the hearts of young people are hurt, one of the greatest hurts of young people is their badness in their studies. They may try to do very well. They really want to study well but maybe their intellect may not be so bright and parents will tell them they are lazy. Parents will compare them to other children. And after studying very well if they fail, they experience a tremendous hurt within. They are ashamed of everything. Everybody is condemning them. So this is what the girl felt, that tremendous hurt and shame, but to make matters worse, her elder brother who was like a father figure to her, had told her “if you fail the third time I don’t want to look at your face.” You know, such remarks from people whom we love and who we think loves us, can be very painful. And this is what he said “if you fail the third time I don’t want to look at your face again.”  And more than that, he said “you can go on and kill yourself. You can die. “ And this is what we call a curse. Now parents often curse their children without thinking and they think it is only a joke, that they said it only out of anger, but every word has the power to do things. Therefore Saint Paul says “never use words that break down a person. Always use words that build up a person.” So this was a great hurt, she was already hurt about her failure at school, the deep feeling of inferiority and now she felt extreme rejection. Her brother said “I don’t want to look at you again. Go and kill yourself.”  Now, what to do? How to bring her the healing of Jesus? Is not easy to speak to children because obviously they cannot understand things we say. But under the power of the Holy spirit, the words would come out, so this is what I told her, I said “I am speaking not as a priest, but as an educationist, one who has been a principle of schools for many years” and I know what I am saying. See people, young people, will listen to you when you speak to them with authority, when they know you are talking sense and when you are speaking to them with love and compassion. So I told her “passing the eight standard at school is not the most important thing in life, that are many more important things in life and you are going to fail the eight standard…” now you may tell me this is bad news, I should never have said that, but you have to speak the truth, but as Saint Peter said “with love”. I said “you are going to fail the eighth standard and I want you to praise God with me for that failure” of course she wouldn’t do that, but she knew I was speaking with love and authority and therefore now she was praising God with me, for that failure. Then I prayed over her. Then, as I often do, I blessed holy water, and I gave her to drink, because this experience of healing can tire you and the person can become thirsty and exhausted. And I gave her this blessed water as a sign and symbol of the Holy spirit entering her but when she put it to her lips, she threw it aside “I don’t want that water. It is bitter. It is bitter.” Then I knew there was an evil force there also.

When the human heart is wounded it can open ourselves to demonic forces. So I told the three women who were charismatic leaders “force her to drink that water”. And then, as she was drinking that water and she drank herself avidly  and then I asked her how did the water taste. She said “Father, very sweet.” It was tasting like holy water. I said “Alright, now you can go.”

I said now you can go, but she was not getting up from her chair. I said “I have to see other people. I finished with you. You can go.” She stood up, she was not going. I said “what more do you want?” she said “I want to cry.” I said “cry” and she collapsed on her knees and began to cry so loudly that even the parish priest came to see what was happening. He must be wondering why I am making all the girls to cry. I couldn’t tell him it was the Holy spirit making them to cry. Because crying is a process of healing. The gift of tears is the gift of the Holy spirit. And then she left. That evening in that big stadium, as big as this, where I was giving a mission. She came on the stage and gave her testimony and she said three things which I did not know. First of all, she said that when I was praying for her that she realized that her mother had taken her to many witchcraft people because she was failing her exams. And then she knew it was something wrong and she repented and she renounced all those occult practices. Secondly, as she was crying all that anger and bitterness toward her brother disappeared. And her heart was filled with a great love and compassion for him. And thirdly she said, after she left she was thirsty again, she filled her glass with water, she wanted to bring it to me again for me to bless it. But there were people already with me so she told Jesus “Lord Jesus you bless the water” and when she drank that water it was as sweet, if not sweeter, than the water I had blessed before. It was a sign to her that Jesus by the power of the Holy spirit had healed her and delivered completely. Praise the Lord.

(the end)

Christmas by Way of Mary

by Fr. Rufus Pereira

There can be no better way to celebrate Christmas than to consider that "pilgrimage of faith in which the Blessed Virgin advanced, faithfully preserving her union with Christ" (Mother of the Redeemer 5). Together with Mary let us take this pilgrimage of faith by re-examining the Infancy Narratives given in Luke's Gospel.

Mary hears and accepts the Good News (Lk 1:26-38):
Luke begins his Gospel by presenting Mary as 'Highly favoured of God' and 'Blessed … among women' (1:28,30), for she is the first one to hear the Good News. She would have an altogether unique role to play in the fulfillment of God's plan, for she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and bring forth Jesus, the Son of God (1:31,35). Through her response, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your Word" (1:38), Mary also becomes the first person to accept and to obey the Good News, thus anticipating in herself in a unique way the essential characteristic of a disciple of Christ: "Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22). Although she has been given a sign (1:36-37), she was a 'believer' for whom God's Word was sufficient. This was the first step in her journey of faith.

Mary is declared blessed because she believed God's Word (1:42,45):
Mary, always the obedient maidservant of the Lord (1:38), then goes with all haste to the house of Zacharias and greets Elizabeth (1:39-40), who in her turn through the power of the Holy Spirit loudly proclaims: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb" (1:42). Because she has conceived a son like Jesus, Mary is hailed as the most blessed woman that ever was. But Elizabeth makes it absolutely clear why Mary is blessed through the blessedness of Jesus her Son, "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord" (1:45). She is already blessed because of her obedience to the Word of God (1:38), and not just because, as Elizabeth now realizes, she is now 'the mother of my Lord' (1:43). The first person to be called blessed in the Gospel was thus appropriately the first person to believe in the promise of the Lord and so open herself to its fulfillment in her life. Mary's response of faith to God's call and choice is the essence of Christian discipleship.

All generations will call Mary Blessed (1:45-55):
In response to Elizabeth's blessing, Mary herself prophesizes, "For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (1:48). But, what is so distinctive of a Christian disciple, Mary does not so much accept Elizabeth's and all future generations' blessings as a credit to her faith as much as a tribute to God's power, holiness and mercy (1: 49,50). In doing so she is in fact, as a representative of the anawin of Israel, anticipating the proclamation of the Good News by Jesus in the Beatitudes of the Sermon of the Mount (Mt 5:2-12), and prophesizing its actualization in the Jerusalem community (Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-37).

Mary ponders the Good News given by the angel (2:19):
Nine months later -Luke gives us three reactions or responses to the 'good tidings of great joy' brought by the angel (2:10). While the shepherds 'made widely known the saying' (2:17) and 'returned, glorifying and praising God' (2:20), … and while 'all those who heard it marveled' (2:18), "But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (2:19), signifying that she treasured the words and incidents connected with Jesus' birth, wanting to know their deeper meaning.

Mary receives the Good News as the Sword of the Spirit (2:35a):
When forty days later Joseph and Mary brought the Child Jesus to be presented in the Temple (2:22), they marveled, Luke says, at the consoling prophesy that Simeon made about the Child in his prayer of blessing to God (2:33). But Luke does not tell us about their reaction to Simeon's disturbing prophesy, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against … that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (2:34,35b), much less about Mary's response to his direct prophecy to her, "Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also" (2:35a, cfr Heb 4:12). But she would have understood that she too, as part of Israel, would be judged by her final response to the Child who will the occasion of the fall and rising of people, even of Israel, depending on their attitude to Jesus. For obedience to the Word of God would not be a once for all act (1:38.45), but an ongoing attitude tested through trials and perils. Mary would thus have to go through the test of discipleship, but would come through successfully, unlike Peter who could not hold fast to the Word of God in the face of diabolic opposition (22:32-34).

Mary does not understand the Word but keeps it in her heart (2:48-51):
Twelve years later, after three days of searching for their lost son, Mary and Joseph were amazed at seeing Jesus calmly sitting amidst the teachers of the Law in the Temple, apparently oblivious of their anxiety and concern for him (2:46,48). Jesus' answer to his mother's reproach seems to be full of surprise and even pain that his parents have still not known him well enough. When he ostensibly reveals to them his true identity and affirms the priority of his relationship with his heavenly Father over that with his earthly parents (2:40), "they did not understand the statement which he spoke to them' (2:50), which may seem to be surprising, on Mary's part at least, after twelve years of reflection on the previous revelations of her son's identity (1:31-35; 2:11,17-18). Mary must now be realizing the full import of Simeon's prophecy uttered twelve years before (2:35a).

And so the final reaction of the parents in the infancy narrative seems to be similar to that of the disciples after the third Passion prediction, "But they understood none of these things" (18:24). Unlike the disciples, however, "His mother kept all these things in her heart" (2:50). As she did twelve years before, she retained now also the disturbing words that had puzzled her, but she continued to search for their true and deeper meaning (2:19), in apparent contrast with Jesus 'growing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man' (2:52). Mary's attitude, therefore, of acceptance and obedience and waiting, throughout the infancy narrative, are for us a model preparation for Christmas.

O Natal pela Via de Maria

Por Pe. Rufus Pereira

Não pode haver melhor maneira de celebrar o Natal do que considerar que "peregrinação de fé em que a Santíssima Virgem avançou, conservando fielmente a união com Cristo" (Mãe do Redentor 5). Juntamente com Maria, vamos aproveitar esta peregrinação de fé, reexaminando as narrativas da infância dadas no Evangelho de Lucas.

Maria ouve e aceita a Boa Nova (Lc 1, 26-38):
Lucas começa o seu Evangelho, apresentando Maria como "altamente favorecido por Deus" e "Bem-aventurados ... entre as mulheres" (1: 28,30), pois ela é a primeira a ouvir a Boa Nova. Ela teria um papel completamente único a desempenhar no cumprimento do plano de Deus, pois ela iria conceber pelo poder do Espírito Santo e dará à luz Jesus, o Filho de Deus (1: 31,35). Através de sua resposta: "Eis aqui a serva do Senhor. Faça-se em mim segundo a tua Palavra" (1:38), Mary também se torna a primeira pessoa a aceitar e obedecer a Boa Nova, antecipando, assim, em si mesma, em um forma única a característica essencial de um discípulo de Cristo: "Sede cumpridores da palavra e não somente ouvintes" (Tiago 1:22). Embora ela tenha sido dado um sinal (1: 36-37), ela era uma 'crente', para quem a Palavra de Deus era suficiente. Este foi o primeiro passo em sua jornada de fé.

Mary é declarada bem-aventurada porque acreditou Palavra de Deus (1: 42,45):
Maria, sempre a serva obediente do Senhor (01:38), então vai com toda a pressa para a casa de Zacarias e cumprimenta Elizabeth (1: 39-40), que por sua vez, através do poder do Espírito Santo, proclama em voz alta: "Bendita és tu entre as mulheres e bendito é o fruto do teu ventre" (01:42). Porque ela concebeu um filho como Jesus, Maria é aclamada como a mulher mais abençoada que sempre foi. Mas Elizabeth torna absolutamente claro por que Maria é abençoada por meio da bem-aventurança de Jesus, seu Filho, "Bem-aventurada aquela que acreditou, pois haverá um cumprimento das coisas que lhe foram ditas da parte do Senhor" (01:45). Ela já é abençoado por causa de sua obediência à Palavra de Deus (1:38), e não apenas porque, como Elizabeth agora percebe, ela está agora "a mãe do meu Senhor" (01:43). A primeira pessoa a ser chamado abençoado no Evangelho foi, assim, de forma adequada a primeira pessoa a acreditar na promessa do Senhor e assim abrir-se para a sua realização em sua vida. A resposta de Maria da fé para chamada e escolha de Deus é a essência do discipulado cristão.

Todas as gerações chamar Maria Beato (1: 45-55):
Em resposta a bênção de Elizabeth, a própria Maria profetiza: "Pois eis que desde agora todas as gerações me chamarão bem-aventurada" (01:48). Mas, o que é tão característico de um discípulo cristão, Mary não tanto aceitar todas as bênçãos das gerações futuras de Elizabeth e como um crédito à sua fé, tanto quanto um tributo ao poder, santidade e misericórdia (1: 49,50) de Deus. Ao fazer isso, ela é de fato, como um representante do Anawin de Israel, antecipando a proclamação da Boa Nova de Jesus nas bem-aventuranças do Sermão da Montanha (Mt 5: 2-12), e profetizando a sua realização no comunidade de Jerusalém (Atos 2: 43-47; 4: 32-37).

Mary pondera a Boa Notícia dada pelo anjo (2:19):
Nove meses depois, Lucas nos dá três reações ou respostas para as "boas novas de grande alegria" trazidos pelo anjo (2:10). Enquanto os pastores 'amplamente conhecido o ditado "(2:17) e" voltaram, glorificando e louvando a Deus "(2:20), ... e enquanto" todos aqueles que a ouviram se maravilharam "(2:18)," Maria, porém, guardava todas estas coisas, meditando-as no seu coração "(2:19), significando que ela guardava as palavras e os incidentes relacionados com o nascimento de Jesus, querendo saber o seu significado mais profundo.

Maria recebe a Boa Nova como a Espada do Espírito (2: 35a):
Quando 40 dias mais tarde, José e Maria trouxeram o menino Jesus para ser apresentado no Templo (02:22), maravilharam-se, Lucas diz que, ao profetizar consoladora que Simeão fez sobre a Criança na sua oração de bênção a Deus (02:33 ). Mas Lucas não nos diz sobre sua reação ao profetizar perturbador de Simeão: "Eis que este menino está destinado para queda e ressurgimento de muitos em Israel, e para sinal que será falado contra ... que os pensamentos de muitos corações será revelado "(2: 34,35b), e muito menos sobre a resposta de Maria à sua profecia direta a ela:" Sim, uma espada traspassará a tua própria alma "(2: 35a, cfr Hb 4:12). Mas ela teria entendido que ela também, como parte de Israel, seriam julgados por sua resposta final à criança que a ocasião de queda e elevação de pessoas, até mesmo de Israel, dependendo de sua atitude para com Jesus. Por obediência à Palavra de Deus não seria uma vez por todas ato (1: 38.45), mas uma atitude permanente testados através de ensaios e perigos. Maria teria, assim, a passar pelo teste do discipulado, mas viria através de sucesso, ao contrário de Pedro, que não podia agarrar-se à Palavra de Deus, na face de oposição diabólica (22: 32-34).

Maria não entende a Palavra, mas mantém em seu coração (2: 48-51):
Doze anos mais tarde, depois de três dias de busca de seu filho perdido, Maria e José foram surpreendidos ao ver Jesus calmamente sentado no meio dos doutores da lei no templo, aparentemente alheio à sua ansiedade e preocupação para ele (2: 46,48) . A resposta de Jesus a reprovação de sua mãe parece ser cheio de surpresas e até mesmo dor que seus pais ainda não o conheço bem o suficiente. Quando ele ostensivamente lhes revela sua verdadeira identidade e afirma a prioridade de seu relacionamento com o Pai celestial sobre isso com seus pais terrenos (2:40), "eles não entenderam a declaração que ele falou para eles" (02:50) , o que pode parecer surpreendente, por parte de Maria, pelo menos, depois de 12 anos de reflexão sobre as revelações anteriores de identidade de seu filho (1: 31-35; 2: 11,17-18). Maria deve agora estar percebendo o pleno importação de profecia de Simeão proferiu 12 anos antes (2: 35a).

E assim, a reação final dos pais na narrativa da infância parece ser semelhante à dos discípulos após a terceira previsão Paixão, "Mas eles não entenderam nada dessas coisas" (18:24). Ao contrário dos discípulos, no entanto, "Sua mãe guardava todas estas coisas no seu coração" (02:50). Como ela fez 12 anos antes, ela agora também manteve as palavras inquietantes que tinha confundido ela, mas ela continuou a procurar o seu verdadeiro e mais profundo significado (2:19), em aparente contraste com Jesus crescendo em sabedoria, em estatura e em favor de Deus e dos homens "(2:52). A atitude de Maria, portanto, da aceitação e da obediência e espera, ao longo da narrativa infância, são para nós um modelo de preparação para o Natal.

Be Holy As I Am Holy

by Fr. Rufus Pereira

It was in the year of King Uzziah's death (a great and good king, but who unfortunately was punished by God with leprosy for offhandedly not respecting the holiness of the temple worship), that the prophet Isaiah, who was close to the King and may have been dismayed by his divine punishment, had a vision of God in the temple surrounded by angels who cried out to one another, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God". And then Isaiah became aware of his own sinfulness too in the presence of such a holy God, "I am lost, for my eyes have looked at Yahweh, the King, I, a wretched man of unclean lips." Then one of the seraph angels took a burning coal from the altar and touched the mouth of Isaiah saying, "Now your sin is taken away and your iniquity is purged" (Is 6:1-7). This experience had made such a great impact on Isaiah that in his prophecy he constantly refers to God as the Holy One, more than any other book of the Bible does. He must have called to mind then what God says in Leviticus, the OT book on holiness, "The LORD said to Israel through Moses, 'I am the LORD your God. I am holy, and you must be holy too.'" (Lev 19:2).

Be holy as I am holy

God is holy:
This Holy God therefore speaks his holy word (Jer 23:9), he remembers his holy promise (Ps 105:42), he stretches forth his holy arm (Is 52:10), he is jealous of his holy name (Lev 20:3). The place where he appears is holy ground (Ex 3:5), anything set apart for his sacred use is holy, persons connected with these holy places and holy services are holy, and times given to worship are holy (Ex 12:16; 16:23 Is 58:13). Jesus himself at his conception was called the Holy One of God and the devil too recognized and acclaimed him as such, "I know who you are" (Mk 1:24). Jesus even threw a challenge to his detractors, "Can any one of you convict me of sin?" (Jn 8:46), while Pilate could find no case against him in spite of all the accusations made by the religious leaders (Jn 18:38). Hence Jesus addressed God as 'Holy Father' (Jn 17:11) and taught his disciples to pray that the name of their Father God may be held holy and to ask him to give them the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:2,13).

And you must be holy:
God is holy - and Christ died for the Church to make it holy. Hence both his people are to be a holy nation (1 Pet 1:15; 2:9; Eph 5:26), as well as individual Christians, his children, created in his image, are to be called the 'saints' (holy) (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:2), - purified by the Holy Word of God that challenges them (Jn 17:7), and sanctified by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that enables them, to acknowledge their sins, not only in deeds but in words and even in thoughts, and not only in what they have done but also in what they have failed to do, while the 'holy kiss', in the early church, was a seal of holy fellowship (1 Cor 16:20). Thousands have thus answered the call of God to become holy, as he is holy, and have lived such holy lives that the Church has even officially recognized them as holy (canonized them). And so as both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family, Jesus is not ashamed to call them openly his brothers (Heb 2:11).

Be perfect as your Father is perfect
While in the Old Testament God the Father calls us to be holy as he is holy, in the New Testament Jesus his Son calls us to be perfect as his and our Father is perfect.

God is perfect:
perfect in his way, in his word, and in his works. He is a faithful God, upright and just, who does no wrong, though in contrast Israel "has acted foolishly and corruptly toward him. He is their Father and Creator, but to their shame they are no longer his children, but a warped and crooked generation" (Deut 32:4-6). Jesus therefore came to show by word and example how his disciples should respond to a perfect God and Father. At the beginning of his ministry, on their urging him to eat, he replied, "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to do it perfectly" (Jn 4:34), and at the end of his life and ministry he could state, "Done" (Jn 19:30).

And you must be perfect:
Once a rich young man came and asked Jesus, "What must I do to have eternal life". "Keep the commandments", he was told. "I have kept all these from my earliest days till now", he answered, "What more do I have to do?" Jesus looked at him with love and said, "There is still one thing you lack. If you wish to be perfect, then go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me" (Mt 19:14-22). For Jesus made it clear to his disciples, "If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:20). Thousands of men and women have done this down the centuries, following the poverty Gospel rather than the prosperity Gospel.

Again to those whose religious convictions led them to love their neighbor but to hate their enemy, Jesus declared, "I tell you however: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, who looks after both bad men as well as good, and after honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward can you expect? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even pagans do that?" To Jesus the conclusion is obvious; "You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:43-48). Thus Paul's ambition is to be made perfect, though he knows he is far from it (Phil 3:12-14), and to struggle with all his energy to make everyone perfect in Christ. (Col 1:28-29), - so perfect that they are never at fault in what they say (Jas 3:1), and are able to keep their whole body in check and to love so perfectly that there is no more fear (Jas 3:18).

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate
Thirdly and finally we are called not only to be holy, as Leviticus, the Book of Holiness, enjoins us, by avoiding sin; and to be perfect, as Mathew's Gospel of Perfection commands us, by doing good; but to even imitate God our Father, as Luke's Gospel of Compassion urges us, by being tenderhearted.

God is compassionate:
Already in Exodus, the Old Testament book of God's compassion, God proclaims himself as "The LORD, but a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin" (Ex 34:6,7). And in Nehemiah, the people themselves admit, "Our forefathers became arrogant and stiff-necked, forgot your wonders, refused to obey you and flouted your commands. But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate. Therefore you did not desert them, even when they worshipped an image of a calf as their god and saviour, or when they committed awful blasphemies" (Neh 9:16-18).

And you must be compassionate:
It is in Exodus too that God calls on Israel to be compassionate, as he is compassionate. "If you lend money to any of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender, but charge him no interest. If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? And if he cries out to me, I will hear him, for I am compassionate" (Ex 22:25-27). In stark contrast Jonah was very indignant and fell into a rage precisely because God showed mercy to the people of Nineveh. "That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you were a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger and abounding in love, who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, please take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live (as you want me to live - full of compassion like you)" (Jon 4:3).

But it is in Luke's Gospel of Compassion that Jesus spells out compassion as the heart of holiness and the pinnacle of perfection. "But I tell you: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. Instead, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend without any hope of return. Then your reward will be great for you will qualify to be sons of the Most High, since he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Therefore be compassionate as your Father is compassionate" (Lk 6:27-36).

On the last day God will judge the perfection and even the holiness of our lives by our compassion (Mt 25:31-46). For God is holy, God is perfect, but above all God is compassionate, - in fact God is Love, and He has called us not only to be holy and perfect but to be compassionate, for anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him (1Jn 4:16).

Seja santo como Eu sou santo

por Pe Rufus Pereira

Foi no ano da morte do rei Uzias (um grande e um bom rei, mas que, infelizmente, foi punido por Deus com lepra para offhandedly não respeitar a santidade do culto do templo), que o profeta Isaías, que estava perto do rei e pode foram consternados com sua punição divina, teve uma visão de Deus no templo cercado por anjos, que gritou para o outro: "Santo, santo, santo é o Senhor Deus". E então Isaías tornou-se consciente de sua própria pecaminosidade também na presença de um Deus tão santo: "Estou perdido, porque os meus olhos olhou para o Senhor, o Rei, eu, um homem miserável de lábios impuros". Então, um dos anjos serafim tomou uma brasa viva do altar e tocou a boca de Isaías, dizendo: "Agora, o seu pecado é tirado e sua a iniqüidade é perdoada" (Is 6: 1-7). Esta experiência fez um impacto tão grande sobre Isaías que, em sua profecia, ele constantemente se refere a Deus como o Santo, mais do que qualquer outro livro da Bíblia. Ele deve ter chamado a atenção para, em seguida, o que Deus diz em Levítico, o livro OT em santidade ", disse o SENHOR a Israel por meio de Moisés:" Eu sou o Senhor vosso Deus. Eu sou santo, e você deve ser santo também. "(Lev 19: 2).

Sede santo como eu sou santo

Deus é santo:
Assim, este Deus Santo fala a sua santa palavra (Jer 23: 9), ele se lembra de sua santa palavra (Sl 105: 42), ele estende seu braço santo (Is 52:10), ele está com ciúmes de seu santo nome (Lev 20 : 3). O lugar onde ele aparece é terra santa (Ex 3: 5), tudo separado para seu uso sagrado é santo, pessoas ligadas a esses lugares santos e serviços santos são santos, e os tempos são dadas a adoração santa (Ex 00:16; 16:23 é 58:13). O próprio Jesus na sua concepção foi chamado o Santo de Deus eo diabo também reconhecida e aclamada como tal, "Eu sei quem você é" (Mc 01:24). Jesus ainda lançou um desafio para seus detratores, "Pode qualquer um de vocês me condenar de pecado?" (Jo 8:46), enquanto Pilatos poderia encontrar nenhum caso contra ele, apesar de todas as acusações feitas pelos líderes religiosos (Jo 18:38). Por isso Jesus se dirigiu a Deus como "Santo Padre" (Jo 17:11) e ensinou seus discípulos a orar para que o nome de seu Pai Deus pode ser realizada santo e pedir-lhe para dar-lhes o Espírito Santo (Lc 11: 2,13) .

E você deve ser santo:
Deus é santo - e Cristo morreu para a Igreja para torná-lo santo. Assim ambas as pessoas estão a ser uma nação santa (1 Pe 1:15; 2: 9; Ef 5:26), assim como os cristãos, individualmente, seus filhos, criados à sua imagem, estão a ser chamado de 'santos' (santo) (Rm 1: 7; 1 Coríntios 1: 2), - purificado pelo Santa Palavra de Deus que os desafia (Jo 17: 7), e santificados pelo Santo Sacrifício da Missa que lhes permite, a reconhecer seus pecados , não só em ações, mas em palavras e até mesmo em pensamentos, e não apenas no que eles fizeram, mas também no que eles não conseguiram fazer, enquanto o "ósculo santo", na igreja primitiva, era um selo da santa comunhão (1 Coríntios 16:20). Milhares de pessoas, assim, responderam ao chamado de Deus para se tornar santo, como Ele é santo, e viveram vidas tão sagrados que a Igreja reconheceu-los ainda oficialmente como santo (canonizado eles). E assim como tanto o que santifica como os que são santificados, são todos da mesma família, Jesus não se envergonha de chamá-los abertamente seus irmãos (Hb 2:11).

Sede perfeitos como o vosso Pai é perfeito
Enquanto no Antigo Testamento, Deus Pai nos chama para sermos santos como Ele é santo, no Novo Testamento, Jesus seu Filho nos chama a ser perfeito como seu e nosso Pai é perfeito.

Deus é perfeito:
perfeito em sua forma, em sua palavra, e em suas obras. Ele é um Deus fiel, justo e reto, que não faz mal, embora em contraste Israel "agiu estupidamente e corruptamente para com ele. Ele é o seu Pai e Criador, mas a sua vergonha eles não são seus filhos, mas um deformado e geração perversa "(Dt 32: 4-6). Portanto, Jesus veio para mostrar por palavras e exemplo de como seus discípulos deveriam responder a um Deus perfeito e Pai. No início do seu ministério, em sua instando-o a comer, ele respondeu: "Meu alimento é fazer a vontade daquele que me enviou, e fazê-lo perfeitamente" (Jo 04:34), e no final do sua vida e ministério, ele poderia afirmar, "Done" (Jo 19:30).

E você tem que ser perfeito:
Uma vez que um jovem rico veio e perguntou a Jesus: "O que devo fazer para ter a vida eterna". "Guarda os mandamentos", disseram-lhe. "Eu tenho guardado tudo isso desde os meus primeiros dias até agora", ele respondeu: "O que mais eu tenho que fazer?" Jesus olhou para ele com amor e disse: "Ainda há uma coisa te falta Se queres ser perfeito, vai, vende então tudo que você possui e dê o dinheiro aos pobres e terás um tesouro no céu;. Depois, vem e siga-me "(Mt 19: 14-22). Para Jesus deixou claro a seus discípulos: "Se a sua virtude não vai mais fundo do que a dos escribas e fariseus, você nunca vai entrar no reino dos céus" (Mt 5:20). Milhares de homens e mulheres têm feito isso ao longo dos séculos, seguindo a pobreza evangélica ao invés do Evangelho da Prosperidade.

Novamente para aqueles cujas convicções religiosas levou-os a amar o próximo, mas odiar seu inimigo, Jesus declarou: "Digo-vos porém: Amai os vossos inimigos e orai pelos que vos perseguem Desta forma, você vai ser filhos de seu Pai que está nos céus. , que cuida de homens maus, assim como boa, e depois de homens honestos e desonestos igualmente. Porque, se amais os que vos amam, que recompensa você pode esperar? não são mesmo os cobradores de impostos que fazem isso? e se você apenas cumprimentar o seu irmãos, você está fazendo nada de excepcional? não mesmo os pagãos fazem isso? "Para Jesus, a conclusão é óbvia; "Você deve, portanto, ser perfeitos como vosso Pai celeste é perfeito" (Mt 5: 43-48). Assim ambição de Paulo é para ser aperfeiçoados, mas ele sabe que ele está longe disso (Fp 3: 12-14), e lutar com toda a sua energia para fazer todo homem perfeito em Cristo. (Col 1: 28-29), - tão perfeito que eles nunca estão em falta no que dizem (Tg 3: 1), e são capazes de manter todo o seu corpo em cheque e amar tão perfeitamente que não há mais medo (Tg 3:18).

Seja compassivo como o vosso Pai é misericordioso
Em terceiro lugar e, finalmente, somos chamados não apenas para ser santo, como Levítico, o Livro de Santidade, nos exorta, por evitar o pecado; e para ser perfeito, como Evangelho da Perfeição de Mathew nos ordena, por fazer o bem; mas ao mesmo imitar Deus, nosso Pai, como Evangelho da Compaixão de Lucas nos exorta, por ser compassivos.

Deus é compassivo:
Já em Êxodo, livro do Antigo Testamento da compaixão de Deus, Deus se proclama como "o Senhor, mas um Deus de ternura e compaixão, lento para a cólera, rico em bondade e fidelidade, mantendo o amor a milhares, e da maldade de perdão, a transgressão eo pecado "(Ex 34: 6,7). E em Neemias, o povo se admitir, "Nossos antepassados se tornou arrogante e de dura cerviz, esqueceu suas maravilhas, recusou-se a obedecer-lhe e desrespeitados seus comandos. Mas você é um Deus de perdão, clemente e compassivo. Por isso você não abandoná-los , mesmo quando eles adoraram uma imagem de um bezerro como seu Deus e Salvador, ou quando cometeram horríveis blasfêmias "(Neemias 9: 16-18).

E você deve ser compassivo:
É no Êxodo também que Deus exorta Israel a ser compassivo, como ele é compassivo. "Se você emprestar dinheiro a alguém do meu povo entre vocês que é carente, não ser como um agiota, mas acusá-lo sem interesse. Se você pegar a capa de seu próximo como uma promessa, devolvê-lo a ele por do sol, porque o manto é a única cobertura que ele tem para o seu corpo que mais ele vai dormir e se ele grita para mim, vou ouvi-lo, porque eu sou compassivo "(Ex 22: 25-27).?. Em forte contraste com Jonas estava muito indignado e caiu em uma raiva precisamente porque Deus usou de misericórdia para com o povo de Nínive. "É por isso que eu estava tão rápido para fugir para Társis. Eu sabia que você era um Deus de ternura e compaixão, lento para a cólera e cheio de amor, que se arrepende do mal. Agora, ó Senhor, por favor, tirar a minha vida, pois é melhor para mim morrer do que viver (como você quer que eu viva - cheio de compaixão como você) "(Jon 4: 3).

Mas é no Evangelho de Lucas de compaixão que Jesus explicita compaixão como o coração da santidade eo pináculo da perfeição. "Mas eu lhes digo:. Amai os vossos inimigos, fazei bem aos que vos odeiam, bendizei os que vos maldizem, e orai pelos que vos tratam mal Se amais os que vos amam, que mérito há nisso você Até os pecadores fazem? isso. E se você fizer o bem daqueles que são bons para você, que mérito há nisso? Também os pecadores fazem isso. E se emprestardes àqueles de quem esperais receber, que agradecimento você pode esperar? Também os pecadores emprestam aos pecadores , espera ser reembolsado integralmente. em vez disso, amai os vossos inimigos e fazer o bem a eles, e emprestar sem qualquer esperança de retorno. Então, a vossa recompensa será grande para você se qualificará para sermos filhos do Altíssimo, porque ele próprio é uma espécie . para com os ingratos e os maus Portanto ser compassivos como o vosso Pai é misericordioso »(Lc 6: 27-36).

No último dia Deus julgará a perfeição e até mesmo a santidade de nossas vidas por nossa compaixão (Mt 25: 31-46). Porque Deus é santo, Deus é perfeito, mas acima de tudo, Deus é compassivo, - na verdade, Deus é amor, e Ele nos chamou, não só para ser santo e perfeito, mas para ser compassivo, para quem permanece no amor permanece em Deus, e Deus vive nele (1 Jo 4:16).