Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Muslims Embrace the true meaning of Christmas

The Christmas holiday is coming upon us, with colorful lights, joyful carols and people going to churches to celebrate the birth of Jesus (Prophet Isa). It is well known, particularly in this holiday season, that Christians follow the teaching of Jesus. What is less well understood is that Muslims also love and revere Jesus as one of God's greatest messengers to mankind.

The personality of Jesus plays a central role in Islam. Muslims believe that God delivered the Gospel — Injeel to Jesus, just as he did Ta'wrat with Moses and the Old Testament (Zabur) to David and the Koran to Prophet Muhammad. It is critical for Muslims and non-Muslims to understand that a person is not considered a Muslim unless he or she believes in Jesus, and Islam is the only religion that testifies to Christianity.

Islam also assigns a very high degree of respect to the mother of Jesus, Mary (Mariam). There is an exclusive chapter in the Koran on the mother of Jesus by the name of ''Sura-e-mariam.'' The life of Jesus Christ is a momentous event for Christians and non-Christians alike. Jesus Christ's birthday is a signpost, and of all the great people born through the ages, imagine that Jesus is so important that his life divides time between B.C. and A.D.

Both Muslims and Christians can learn a lot from Christmas. This annual celebration is the victory of paganism over the religion of Jesus and no one disputes that many of its symbols came from the pagan religions rather than the birth or teaching of Jesus Christ. The incorporation of these pagan rituals with Christianity has taken a toll by corrupting the original Christian principles of spirituality, simplicity, humbleness, kindness and generosity.

Christmas is an awesome time of year, but the irony is that Prophet Jesus and his teaching are becoming more and more absent from the celebrations. However, there is a positive side of Christmas becoming increasingly secular. I think it's awesome that Christmas brings some of the greatest truths of the gospel to light. If it were not for the Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays, family relationships would be worse than they are. In fact, these are the only times that many families make an attempt to mend broken relationships.

In the fight to separate religion from schools and government, I think the Christmas celebration is a great victory to bring back spirituality to one's life. I take pleasure in seeing the Gospel of Jesus displayed in public places. It is a shame to see that ''Merry Christmas'' has given way to ''Happy Holidays'' or ''Seasons Greetings.'' The blame lies with commercialism, rather than with militant Islam or Judaism. Denying the Christianity in Christmas celebrations helps no one. Actually, we Muslims welcome having more of a Christian content, because at present it is more of a shopping festival. Muslims do celebrate Christmas in our own way, by celebrating our love to this blessed baby and Messiah.

As the forces of hate in this country try to pull Muslims and Christians apart, we are in desperate need of a unifying force. That force could be the message of love, peace and forgiveness taught by Jesus and accepted by followers of both faiths. I think of a quotation: ''Jesus, Son of Mary, said: 'The World is a bridge, pass over it, but build no houses upon it. He, who hopes for a day, may hope for eternity: but the World endures but an hour. Spend it in prayers, for the rest is unseen.' ''

This Persian calligraphy is arched and enscripted at the entrance of the greatest piece of Muslim architecture, the mosque built by Emperor Akbar, at Fatepur Sikri, a few miles to the west of Agra, in northern India. Why is this Christian quotation given a center stage in a Muslim monument, and why would a Muslim emperor want to place such a phrase over the entrance to the main Mosques in his capital city?

This saying was circulated around the Muslim world, from Spain to China. The Koran calls Christians the ''nearest in Love'' and instructs Muslims to ''dispute not with the people of the book that is, the Jews and Christians.'' The relationships between Islam and Christainity are complex and intricately woven. There were never any conversions by swords, a myth much propagated in anti-Islamic literature. The American Muslim community stands ready to honor the legacy of building bridges of interfaith understanding and challenging those who would divide our nation along religious or ethnic lines.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Power of "Now" got limitations!

Living in the present moment is the spiritual fad of the day. I hear everywhere my friends talk about the the power of "Now"

King Herod respected John. He considered John to be upright and Holy. He listened to him, even when he heard what disturbed him. Herod didn't change his ways because no sooner did he hear the message than he forgot it, as the attractions of the next moment consumed him. He was so mesmerized by the dance of the Herodias' daughter that he forgot everything and promised everything, without realizing the implications. When the girl demanded the life of John, Herod was so consumed by the need to defend his honor in the moment that he forgot the demands of higher values that the compulsions of the Moment.

Do I engage in the present moment in such a way that I live in discontinuity with the Past and the Future and the eternal values that inform them?

Being consumed by the "Present Moment" divorced from what is beyond the present has its dangers!

Saturday, August 18, 2012




After struggling 4 years in my career in India, God established a plan to begin my new venture in the Middle East. As God brought the Israelites out of ( Egypt Book of Torah)I began my gulf journey in Dubai where I couldn’t fix my future as I couldn’t bring my family for more than 7 months I decided to look out for a change. Gulf is full of opportunities, so got my job in Kuwait in 2003, and settled with my family the same year.

There has been a very good relationship with my Muslim brethren. Though being a Christian I have respected their culture and traditions. There are two important things that I admire and have changed my lifestyle and faith, not only as an individual but even as a family.

1.      The prayer they are committed before dawn. There are many similarities in the HOLY QURAN and the HOLY BIBLE (INJIL). Though even our Bible says that praying to God before dawn is very effective we are very lenient and have not followed it as a Law. I respect this commitment and their firm faith of gratitude and repentance. This has made me to wake up early in the morning and do my daily prayers. We as Christians are happy to know that we have the freedom of worship in this part of the world. We appreciate such positive attitude and acceptance they show towards us. They also consider and respect our religion.

Monotheism is the central theme of Islam—a belief in only one God, Allah, who is omnipotent. According to Islam, God has four fundamental functions: creation, sustenance, guidance, and judgment. The overall purpose of humanity is to serve Allah, to worship him alone and to construct a moral lifestyle. Working in a muslim country and their relationship has influenced me to read QURAN and do my Arabic learning in Islamic Presentation Committee. Muslims believe that Muhammad was the final prophet and that the Koran is the final and most perfect revelation of God. Muslims also believe in a final judgment when individuals will be judged according to their deeds.

2.      The other important relationship I developed is the holy month of Ramadan. This is the time when we are called to repent and make almsgiving (Zakat). This period of thirty days is similar to what we call the “LENT”. Though we have the same laws we are not following it seriously. Looking at the devotion and dedication of our Muslim brothers’ show during the Ramadan has influenced me to follow the rule of fasting and prayer and also make charity. The day before “Ramadan” starts we used to eat together and during the Ramadan, we used to have Gabga (Dinner) in a grand manner. At times I joined with them while breaking their fast. Prayer is the only means to reach closer to God and the other means are almsgiving. This is my relationship and understanding my Muslim brothers I have learnt.

 The bond between human relationship increases only when we respect and accept others culture, faith, traditions and laws. Our Muslim brothers give no religion or caste priority but they give for the skills and talents.

There are laborers from different countries and cultures employed in Kuwait. My wife is also employed as Physiotherapist in Mubarak Hospital, she works with many patients and staffs who are Muslims but she feels very comfortable and happy with their company and in treating them. I would say it’s a country of love, peace and indifference. As a Christian and being employed and serving in Kuwait since 2003, I am happy to be here and would pray to ALLAH to continue His blessing on this country. Being in Kuwait and working with our Muslim brothers we feel blessed and graceful.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


If our life is poured out in useless words,  we will never hear anything,  will never become anything,  and in the end,  because we have said everything before we had anything to say,  we shall be left speechless at the moment of our greatest decision. -- Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, p.90 Too Much Talk "We have said everything before we had anything to say." Ever feel swamped by words? Words on the Web, on the radio, on television, on billboards, in books, in magazines, in emails, in every nook and cranny. Yes, even in this e-resource! As Barbara Brown Taylor suggests, we may like the barrage of words because it helps bury the silence we fear. Yet, those words, pouring forth like a torrent to us and from us, pile up dead around us. The word -- the Father's richest gift to us -- has been sapped of its power to create and restore, to sustain and renew. Too much talk. Scot McKnight tells us that Mother Teresa's creed for life was simply this: The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace. It sounds simple enough. And she believed that everything meaningful originated first from a silence -- our silence before God. Not us pouring out requests to Him; not us complaining; not us excusing ourselves; not us talking, talking, talking. But us listening -- in silence. Such attentiveness gives the Father opportunity to speak real words, life words, into us. Some of us need background noise for everything we do; study, housework, driving, eating, even sleeping. True silence deafens us and threatens us. Indeed, even when we pray in groups, we do our best to avoid "awkward silences." We feel far more comfortable praying together when someone is always speaking. Yet, as we chat incessantly, how do we hear the Lord speak?  The discipline of silence, practised by Christians throughout the ages, gives opportunity for the Father to speak if He so desires. It acknowledges that very often we have "said everything before we had anything to say." The power of words lies not in their profusion, but in their profundity. In our hunger to help others, we can forget this basic truth. And profundity is never the product of our own wisdom, but always the result of the Father's timing. Can we speak less, and trust Him to take a small offering of five sentences and two paragraphs and truly feed those in need? May our Journey include not emptiness but attentive silence, and thereafter not futility but significance -- with our children, our spouses, our friends, our neighbors, and Christ Himself. In HOPE - Francis Jeyaraj

Friday, January 20, 2012


  CAN YOU DRINK THE CUP?          CAN YOU DRINK THE CUP?         Introduction              This book I am basing my reflection on was written by Henri shortly before he died. “Can you Drink the Cup” is based on Mathew 20: 20-23. It is about Zebedee’s sons and their mother coming to Jesus to ask whether they could sit one on the right and the other on the left in Jesus’ Kingdom . The question that Jesus asked James and John makes the subject of this book. Jesus did not address the question to the mother but to the sons knowing that they must have been the ones who sent the mother. The fact that they came together meant that they had already discussed.  We will reflect on the cup as the symbol of our spiritual journey. We will look at the three images of the cup used by Henri: the holding, the lifting and the drinking. We will look at some of the ways that a cup is used and what we use it for. Just as the cup can be used for many things, our lives too can be used for many things. Some of these ways are good and others not so good.  Holding the Cup    When we put something in the cup it is obvious that to drink what is in we have to hold the cup. It is extremely important that we know what we are drinking. It is much more important with our lives that we know what we are living. It does not matter how many years we have lived but if we don’t reflect on our lives they become meaningless. The saying is true that, “ a life that is not reflected on is not worth living”. When we don’t reflect on what we are living we end up being at the mercy of circumstances. We live whatever comes and are controlled by it. When we reflect we are able to see where we have come from and are more open to the future and can plan. We need to reflect about our life, share it with others and evaluate how we are living.  Reflecting will help us to be focused because in reflecting we ask ourselves questions such as: what am I living, is it worth it, is it good or bad, what do I need to do? Etc. Our experiences of Joy and pain in our lives come not so much from what we live but mostly from the way we think and feel about it. We get in touch with the many good things that come our way as well as the many struggles. Reflecting is very important for growth , development and change. Holding the cup of our life means that we look at our life in a critical way. This demands a lot of courage because we may get very frightened at what we see and be tempted to give up . Many questions may arise that we are not able to answer. Fears, doubts, temptations emerge which can make us decide to just live. If we decide to live without  reflecting we can end up wandering aimlessly. When we look at life critically though it be painful, we maintain our vision and direction. When the past is painful there is temptation to want to forget it and continue living.  To live a reflective life demands hard discipline and because it is painful at times we tend to just move with the flow . We need patience to stop and ask ourselves what we are given to drink, what is in the cup and whether it is safe to drink. Cups are very different and even what we are given to drink and this is because we are so unique. If we are unique it means there is something special that only we as individuals can do and nobody else and if we do not do it, it will remain undone. It is a very big responsibility which we often do not take seriously. Though many people can help us to live our lives, at the end each one will have to make their own choices.  The cup of our life is also a cup of sorrow the same sorrows that made Jesus ask that the cup be removed from him at the garden of Gethsemane. In the midst of sorrow there is also joy just as the angel appeared to console Jesus. It is hard to separate joy from sorrow in our lives and that it is why we need to hold the cup in our hands and look carefully to see the joys that are hidden in the sorrows. Jesus tells us that if we are to share in his glory we must also share in his suffering. It is only when we realize that the cup of sorrow is also the cup of joy that we will be able to drink and we need to encourage each other.  Lifting the cup  To lift the cup of our lives is to accept our life with its joys and sorrows, affirming and claiming it as our unique life. We lift them up for others to see and encourage them to lift up their lives as well. When we claim our life together we promise to support each other in our common journey and thus we create community. Often times our wounds prevent us from letting others know us thinking that if they know they will not accept us. In fact they will accept us all the more once they know us because they will feel encouraged. The greatest healing often happen when we no longer feel isolated by our own wounds and discover that others have the same experience. Lifting our cup means sharing our life so that we can celebrate it. When Jesus lifted his cup of suffering on the cross it became rather a cup of blessing as he said he would draw all people to himself when he is lifted up. When we share our lives with one another in this way our sufferings become blessing for ourselves and for others.  Drinking the cup  The cup that we hold and lift we must also drink. When people come to visit us the first thing we do is to offer them a drink. We don’t necessarily drink because we are thirsty but it is a sign of friendship and it helps us to enter into conversation. It is a sign of trust, it breaks the boundaries that separate us. People who are angry with one another will not accept to have a drink together. Drinking the cup means that we internalize our own unique existence with its joys and sorrows. It is the most difficult thing ' to accept ourselves since so many things happened in our lives over which we had no choice like the environment in which we were born, family, tribe and many other things to mention but a few. Drinking the cup is a courageous, hopeful and self confident way of living and not just adapting to hard situations.  When we choose to drink the cup of our lives with deep conviction we find our true freedom and then the cup of sorrow and joy become the cup of salvation. This is what true sanctity is and we become a source of hope to many. Drinking the cup of salvation means emptying the cup of joy and sorrow so that God can fill it with pure life. We need to be saved from so many things that have chained us. Living our life completely in faithfulness according to our call is drinking our cup until it is empty trusting that God will fill it with everlasting life. To do this we need a lot of discipline in our lives which will help us to appropriate and internalize our joys and sorrows and find in them our unique way to spiritual freedom.  There are three disciplines we need to help us. These are: silence, word and action. In silence we confront our true self because we are often overwhelmed by the sorrows of life that we do everything possible to avoid facing them. The media helps to distract us from focusing on ourselves. We also keep ourselves very busy socially. All these are ways to run away from ourselves and turn life into entertainment. Entertainment is everything that gets and keeps our minds away from things that are hard to face. Some entertainment is good to distract us from our worries and fears but when we start living life as entertainment we loose touch with ourselves.  In silence we can let the joys and sorrows emerge from their hidden places without frightening us. It is in silence that we can acknowledge who we are and gradually claim ourselves as a gift from God. If we keep the discipline of silence our inner voices of darkness will gradually loose their strength creating space for the voices of light.  A second way to drink the cup is with the word. It is not enough to claim our joys and sorrows in silence but we must do it in a circle of trusted friends. We need to speak about our lives. If we live our deepest truths in secret and isolated from a community of love, its burden will become too heavy to bear. Silence and speaking must go together. We should share what we have experienced in our silence. We contemplate and give to others the fruits of our contemplation. When we speak about our inner life we risk many things like rejection, misunderstanding and betrayal and so we cannot speak to everyone. When we have caring friends then we can speak from the depth of our hearts. Such friends can offer us a safe and sacred place where we can express our deepest joys as well as sorrows and can care front us in love, challenging us to a greater spiritual maturity. The third way to drink the cup is in Action which can help us celebrate and claim our true self. Here we are not talking so much about what we do but what our vocation is. It means carefully choosing those actions so that we can fully empty ourselves to fulfill God’s will for us. When we listen in silence to God’s voice and speak with our friends in trust, we can know what we are called to do and we can do it with a grateful heart. Silence, speaking and acting are three disciplines that help us drink our cup. If we do these things we are already drinking our cup bit by bit to the bottom. The sorrows of our life will not overwhelm us nor the joy make us loose perspective.  Conclusion  A cup can be used in many ways. We use it to as sign of hospitality but we also use it to poison ourselves or others when we drink things that harm or destroy life. So a cup is a universal symbol which is used at times as a reward for victory. Many times when people win a competition they are given a cup. The cup that Jesus speaks of is a symbol of life filled with joys and sorrows that we can hold, lift and drink as a blessing. When James and John said yes to the drinking of the cup they had no idea what it entailed. They had not even understood Jesus. That first yes had to be followed by many others until their cups were completely empty. The greatest challenge of our spiritual life is that Jesus invites us to drink the cup without offering reward. The intimacy that Jesus had with his Father is the one the strengthened him to drink the cup. Jesus wants to give us the same intimacy so that we can drink our cup and this intimacy is the Holy Spirit. So living a spiritual life is living a life in which the Holy Spirit will guide us and give us the strength and courage to keep saying "Yes" Love to You All,  FJ  

Friday, July 29, 2011

How did we mess up?

It is striking how often history has recognized that there are at least two major movements in the spiritual journey. I call them the path of ascent and the path of descent. Jesus speaks clearly to Peter of first "dressing yourself," and when you are older "letting others dress you" (John 21:18). Psychologists speak of having an ego before you let go of your ego. C.G. Jung speaks of the task of the first half of life as being "individuation" and the second half being "transcendence." The wisdom of India tells a man that he is first a student and householder, and later a "forest dweller" and a wise man. They all intuited something that we are beginning to see was crucial for cultural survival and personal transformation, and yet modern humanism has largely forgotten it and even denies it. We treat the young as if they were adults, and then we resent the old because they seem so childish. Maybe there is a connection.

I am convinced that untold failure and distortion have entered the worlds of psychological development and transformative spirituality because we have not honored these two stages in proper sequence, and therefore have not honored them at all. The tasks, the appropriate energies, and the goals themselves end up being jumbled and confused. When we don't recognize that there are two major life tasks, we usually produce rigid personality structures in the second half of life because they are still idealizing the containment rules for the first half of life. We also produce false surety and grandiosity in young men in the first half of life because they take their petty ego concerns to be final or significant goals. In Jesus words, the elderly keep building "bigger barns" and becoming "fools" (Luke 12:18) when they should be generative mentors for the next generation. While the rich young men reject the initiating challenge: "Sell all that you own and give it away" (Luke 18:22). It seems like pure idiocy to a young careerist who thinks that life is all about upward mobility.

Basically, we have the whole thing backward. We raise children as "liberals" to freely figure out and fend for themselves, and then they rightly seek boundaries, overdo it to contain themselves in mid life, and end up materialists, nationalists, militarists, and "power conservatives" by the end of life. As educators have been telling us for most of the last century, the natural movement of the developmental psyche is exactly the opposite. We need to begin "conservative" with clear boundaries, identity, a sense of "chosenness," and even a kind of specialness and inherent dignity. I like to call it the narcissistic fix that good parents give their children, and good religion gives its adherents. It is surely the best way to start, but it is not a good way to continue and certainly not where the wise man must be and will be at the end of life.

Then as we grow older "in wisdom, age, and grace" (Luke 2:40) we should move toward more compassionate, tolerant, and forgiving world views, what some people associate with more "bleeding heart liberal" thinking. The dualistic mind breaks down in the presence of Divine Mystery and human failure, or at least it should break down. Instead, we largely produce mere ideologues and fundamentalists in the second half of life, who have sadly not done "the fundamentals" of human and spiritual growth. Or we produce a kind of intellectual with-heldness and skepticism that looks like liberal humanism, but is far indeed from any real compassion or generativity toward the world. True holiness and true wisdom are much deeper and broader than mere liberal thinking, however, so do not think I am trying to equate them at all.

Our deconstructed Western culture is so backwards that we have actually turned around the classic patterns of human growth. No wonder we have so many suicidal and depressed teenagers, and so many unhappy and bitter old men. We are supposed to move from a healthy conservatism to a healthy liberation from the same, but we start with an utterly false and unwarranted liberalism, and end up with self-addicted and stuck people by the age of 50. This is not working.

We need instead, as the Dalai Lama says, to "learn the law very well, so we will know how to disobey it properly." Paul makes the same point with different metaphors: "Through the Law I am dead to the Law, so that now I can live for God" (Galatians 2:18). Augustine is even more daring, "Love God, and do what you want!" Such "free thinking" from the very people that we are supposed to admire, shows how unlike them we really are. In fact, such language even sounds dangerous, antinomian, and libertine instead of religious. But that is only to people who have still not completed the tasks of the first half of life! To them it sounds like heresy, and in fact it is -- for them. But for mature men, who have internalized the values of containment and law, "The human one is master even of the Sabbath." (Luke 6:5.) Or "it matters not at all whether one is circumcised [or its baptismal counterpart] or not, all that matters is that one becomes an altogether new creation" (Galatians 5:15). Sounds like Jesus and Paul are two dangerous heretics to me!

When the second half of life is put at the beginning of life, we have old men and women still asking egocentric questions about their own significance and superiority because they did not have the containment to test their own mettle and find their inherent value when they were young. We also have young people speaking with an arrogance and a self assuredness that is totally undeserved. (This has always been true, I am sure, but at least we once had elders who tempered and tested such flights of fancy instead of empowering them.)

When the needed clarity of the first half of life is put off until the second, it merely becomes strong opinions, absolutes, jingoism, and militarism among older people whom we need at that age for integrity, broad mindedness, true leadership, and the "reign of God." We have very few real statesmen in the world today because most are still operating from a teenage psyche of win/lose and more is better. We are all losers as a result. They do not grow up because they refuse to first "grow down," and we do not grow up because we have no models or true elders.

Our Own Reality is Spirituality

One great idea of the biblical revelation is that God is manifest in the ordinary, in the actual, in the daily, in the now, in the concrete incarnations of life, and not through purity codes and moral achievement contests, which are seldom achieved anyway… We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking… The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality.