St. Mary’s Church Changanacherry
Lenten retreat by Br. Thomas Paul Kodiyan
Throughout the Lenten period, we meditate on Jesus and the redemption mysteries. In this retreat, we are going to experience and learn about Jesus’ Passion Death Resurrection till Pentecost .
Our faith must be continually growing. Faith should grow “every day.” Faith must grow “Daily”. What did Jesus say about this? Jesus said in Luke 9: 23: Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Pay attention to the word “daily”. We must understand the extent of meaning contained within these Words. We should take the cross with joy.
Here, look at the picture of the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd holds a sheep. Because, it can’t walk. It has become weak; Has been sick. Sometimes we will be that sheep. So ,what does the Good Shepherd do to those who are sick and weak? Take them into his own hands. Jesus says in John Chapter 10, “ I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me… and they will hear my voice, … he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice”.
These are great guidelines for our lives. Deny yourself. Denial is one of the great themes we think about in this Lenten season. The word ‘ Deny’ itself is not a joyful word to hear for most. But what is the inner meaning of it? God has prepared for me higher things than I can ever think and desire. Which one is better? something that God has set for me or something that I shaped in my human intelligence as a creature? Surely , what God has prepared for me is the best. However, If we want to accept what God has prepared for us, we must give up what we have ,we need to let go of our plans. We do pray for this every day as we say “ lift up your hearts”. In other words, without holding on to our own plans, ideas and leave all the selfishness trapped in our hearts ,lift up our hearts to God. Only then will our life be like that of a Good Shepherd. If we want to receive divine understanding, our hearts must rise to God and leave our worldly thoughts. In that sense, Jesus says, follow me, I am your Good Shepherd. Follow me means, simply go behind Him .I am going ahead of you. Follow me. That is, someone is going ahead of us. So the person who guides us and cares for us go before us . He is the Good Shepherd.
One of the reasons we have problems and hardships is because we don’t follow the Good Shepherd. It seems to us that this shepherd is not right. Come on, don’t follow him . I will run ahead of him. That is what we think. But Jesus says “ follow me”. Jesus is leading us. Jesus says “Where I am, you also may be” so I will do everything for you .This is an easy way to lead our life.
In Lenten season, we meditate on Jesus’s Passion ,Death, we fast, we pray the way of the Cross and other prayers. One of the things the Pope always says is that we do all these things with the hope of the great Easter. All prayers of Lenten season leads us to Easter. There will be no Easter without the Good Friday. This day of resurrection can only be experienced if we take the daily crosses of life with joy. I say all these as an introduction to our Lenten Retreat.