January 3: Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara


 

Click play to listen the Evangalion (gospel reading) of the day.
 

“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1). In this we see that Abram was asked to give up everything that gave him any address and identity: his father’s house, his kindred, homeland, and finally even his name (Gen 17:5). It is a call to radical renunciation to embrace a totally new way of life and identity – a call to give up everything to embrace the source of everything. Further, he was asked to go to a land which he did not know. His whole hope revolved around God’s promise and in faith he knew it all. His was a journey from security and identity to a situation of total dependence on God. This is what we too need to know through life’s journey – the total dependence on God. We can surely call Abraham’s journey a journey of faith. It is the prototype of all biblical journeys.

 

God promised him blessing, a great nation, a great name, and His own power of the word. Yahweh blessed Abraham, such that He can bless others through him (Gen 12:2-3).


Abram’s response is an action: “Abram went as the Lord directed him” (Gen 1:4). We read: “All of these died in faith. They did not obtain what had been promised but saw and saluted it from afar. By acknowledging themselves to be strangers and foreigners on the earth...” (Heb 11:13). Abraham neither saw his descendants becoming a people nor occupying a land. Moses did not enter into the land of promise. But their faith was so deep that they saw and saluted in hope the fulfillment of the promise of God. Faith is life in action. Faith is not a belief or recitation of abstract ideas; rather, it is a call to be. According to the Hebrew Bible, faith is the assurance that God will fulfill His promise.

God’s assuring words of comfort are seen in Is 44:1-4. He is about to bring radical newness. The letter of Peter reminds us that sufferings and trials are part of life. But we need to have joy in our suffering because by that we share in the suffering of Christ. Happy are the ones who suffer for the sake of Christ and not on account of their own evil deeds. If we suffer for Christ, then we will be glorifying God through it. For the receiving of salvation, we need to be careful of our ways and continue to strive. 

 

As we celebrate the feast of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the Gospel speaks of the blessed people of God. Who are they? They are the little ones to whom the mysteries of God are revealed. They are the ones who “see” the Son.

 

Are we the blessed ones of God? We see and hear. But do we see Him? If we see Him then we are blessed. At times we see and hear everything except Him. Who are the ones that see God? - The pure in heart (Mt 5:8) - The simple people, shepherds (Lk 2:6). He has hidden the mystery from the eyes of the learned and clever. Yes, our learning may block us from seeing Him.

 

If we cannot see Him, it is because we are not pure in heart. Chavara was a man of God who experienced the divine presence through his life of purity of heart. Chavara was instrumental in bringing forth radical changes and transformations in his time as a man of God, a retreat master, preacher, educator, administrator, Vicar General of all the Syrian Christians, social activist, spiritual revivalist, etc. Against all these achievements we find in him a man who was moved by the Holy Spirit. When his confessor Leopold revealed that Bl. Chavara never lost his baptismal innocence only then did we know the purity of the heart of Chavara. Even though he was a very saintly person, he considered himself to be a great sinner. That speaks of the true spirituality of the man. Only those who have a glimpse of the divine holiness can understand the wretchedness of their own humanness (Is 6:1-5). To see God we need to be people of simplicity and openness. Bl. Chavara shows us this way by his life and writings.

 

 

 

Credits: Father George Edayadiyil, CMI <george_edayadiyil 'at' hotmail 'dot' com>

 

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