- R R C Celebrates Annual Day as Great Feast
Bengaluru: Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bengaluru Archdiocese called for repentance and good ways to welcome Jesus on Christmas Day. Dr Moras was the main celebrant at the Annual Day of Renewal Retreat Centre (RRC), Bengaluru on Sunday, December 6. As reflections of the readings and in the homily, he reminded the large gathering that it is the holy season and second Sunday of advent to prepare ‘ourselves’ to meaningfully celebrate Christmas.
The day was the 21st year of RRC’s existence and the gathering of people from different five language groups to thank God for the occasion. Advent is a time to prepare oneself to welcome Jesus into each person’s heart. Archbishop Moras who celebrated his 48th year of his priestly ordination (December 6, 1967) urged the congregation to examine whether there were any obstacles or barriers to welcome Jesus into everyone’s heart. Dr Moras exhorted all to remove any such hindrance through repentance and spiritual activities to prepare the ways for Jesus.
The Archbishop cautioned against giving too much importance to the external celebrations of Christmas, and encouraged to pay due attention to the spiritual dimension of the feasts that we celebrate. Christ’s coming into this world is basically to help us realize that God loves us in spite of our shortcomings and failures. He came into this world to reaffirm the everlasting love, concern and care of God. God still loves the world. Advent is the four-week season before Christmas when many Christians commemorate the first coming of Christ and anticipate his second coming and so the season of Advent is the season of celebration of coming.
The word Advent might make us think, first of all, the coming of Jesus at his birth in Bethlehem, but that is not really what this season is all about. It is about that coming as we look back and remember it, but even more about the coming of Jesus at the end of time, the fulfillment of all of history. In between that first coming of Jesus and that final coming is the time in which we live now. Let us spend the four weeks of the Season of Advent in prayer, preparation and spiritual renewal so that his presence in our lives, families and society becomes relevant and fruitful, and help us to be well prepared to meet with him now and after our death. Only when Jesus takes possession of our lives can we experience the lasting peace, joy and love. Otherwise, our lives are void and meaningless.
Referring to the gospel, Archbishop Bernard Moras said, we heard John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance to obtain forgiveness of sins. It was written in the book of prophet Isaiah (about John’s invitation for repentance); Listen to this voice crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight, the valleys will be filled and the mountains and hills made low. Everything crooked will be made straight and the rough paths smooth and every human being will see the salvation of God.
Archbishop who is also the president of Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops’ Conference pointed out to the preparations prior to the visit of Prime Minister, Pope and other such top dignitaries to a state or a country. Streets are made neat and clean and long and all sorts of preparations go into it so that everything goes smoothly. Nobody takes a chance.
The same way, proper preparations are required to welcome Jesus. Israelites were waiting for the messiah. The scriptures have mention of this messiah. God chooses John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord. He (John) went to desert to pray and fast for forty days to discern God’s will. He gave a call to the people to prepare the way for the Lord. He called for repentance as they had gone astray, taken to drugs and alcohol.
Archbishop, president, All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights, narrated an incident of Ford, an American industrialist. A mechanic was stealing a lot of parts every day from the factory. One day God touched him. He repented and became a Christian. He met his supervisor and informed about what had happened. The supervisor was touched. He met Ford himself and told what had happened to both of them and the background incident. He was also touched and finally this led to baptism of all in the employees of the factory. Taking a clue from the story, Archbishop urged all that we also need to keep the baptismal promises. He assured that all things will be all right. He also asked to reject Satan and all his empty promises. God is our Father and we are all brothers and sisters. He appealed to all present, mainly people who speak English, Kannada, Konkani, Tamil and Malayalam, to lead a good and holy life on earth and to put into practice our promises and commitments.
A concerned Archbishop pointed out to the so many deaths in the city and so many Christians die as well. He wondered where they would go after their death. Expressing apprehension, he said some do not obey God or Church authorities. He fervently asked the people to follow God’s commandments and commitment of baptism.
To drive home the point Archbishop told yet another story. As we all want to experience God, one man set out for a journey to experience God and visited many countries. When he felt tired he returned and took rest for some time. He met a holy man, a sage. The sage asked him to light a lamp kept in a place. He tried and did not succeed. The sage told him to remove water and pour oil in its place and try. The man did as told but still did not find success. The sage again told him to squeeze out the water from the wick and try. The man finally succeeded to light the lamp.
To succeed experiencing God we need to squeeze out water from us. Water is obstacles and negative elements in us. We need to empty ourselves and prepare to experience God. As he called for holiness in each person’s life, exhorted to help others in need and share the mercy as Holy Father declared the year as Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015.(A Jubilee Year is: “a year of forgiveness of sins and also the punishment due to sin, it is a year of reconciliation between adversaries, of conversion and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and consequently of solidarity, hope, justice, commitment to serve God with joy and in peace with our brothers and sisters. A Jubilee year is above all the year of Christ, who brings life and grace to humanity.”)
As Archbishop Moras wished all advance greetings for a happy and holy Christmas as well as a prosperous and grace-filled new year 2016, he said may the change and conversion of hearts help everyone to experience God.
Among others who concelebrated the holy Mass included Fr Anthony Mahendran, secretary to Archbishop, Fr Antony Kannamppilly CST, Vice General of CST Congregation, Fr Saji Mathew Kanayankal CST, Provincial, Fr Jose Thadathil CST, Superior and Fr Joseph Mundolickal CST, Director, RRC.
Fr Provincial thanked the Archbishop and all others concerned. Fr Superior of RRC also spoke on the occasion giving details of the programmes held at the Retreat Centre, a brief history of RRC and about the 15 years of Virunnu Fund (This fund people donate and contribute helpsto conduct all the programmes at RRC free of cost). Meal packets were distributed to about five thousand people gathered. Readings and singing were in different languages. RRC also does social services including educational and marriage support to the needy besides continuous retreats in five languages. It also brings out a monthly magazine – Renewal Voice. Archbishop, on the occasion, released a CD containing modern songs.