Francis Gonsalves


The heart of the matter

“These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6) said Jesus of the Pharisees, known for their loveless legalism and rigid ritualism. Likewise, of those who reject Truth, the Holy Quran says: “Their hearts are sealed so that they apprehend not” (9:87).

To Dad, with love

Hundred years ago, on June 19, 1910, Father’s Day was celebrated for the first time — thanks to the efforts of Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington. Dodd told people to come to church wearing roses: a red rose to honour a living father and a white rose for a deceased one. Dodd wore a white rose to honour her dad who raised six kids after her mom’s untimely death.

Come, wrestle with God

World Wrestling Entertainment offers crazy entertainment, especially when the giant Indian, the “Great Khali” aka Dalip Singh Rana, decimates opponent after opponent with enviable ease. When Khali visited India sometime ago, thousands of fans flocked to meet this desi wrestler who looms large at seven-feet three-inches and 190 kilos!

Arise, and start anew

On His deathbed, surrounded by despondent disciples, a Guru asked: “Don’t you see that death gives loveliness to life?” A disciple replied, “No! We would rather think that you never die”. Smiling, the Guru said, “Whatever is truly alive must die. Look at the flowers, only plastic flowers don’t die”.

Goodness of Good Friday

We wish you a ‘Happy Good Friday’!” was the greeting of a Doordarshan newsreader on Good Friday some years ago, which drew protests from Indian Christians. Understandably, Christians felt hurt since Good Friday commemorates the death of Jesus.

Trekking for God

Of his May 29, 1953, ascent to Mount Everest, the late Edmund Hillary noted: “As we started reaching closer and closer, I had to leave more and more things behind. At the last moment, I had to leave almost everything, because everything became such a burden”. The experience of a mountaineer is similar to that of a believer who strives for the God-encounter. Indeed, true bhaktas, like mountaineers, constantly shed unnecessary things in order to reach God.

Bat and field for God

“Does the Bible say anything about cricket?” asked a teacher of her Sunday school kids. Little Vijay cried, “Yes!” Curious, the teacher continued, “And, what exactly does it say?”
Without batting an eyelid he replied, “Peter stood before the 11 and was bold”. Appointed headman by Jesus, Saint Peter was bold in proclaiming his beliefs not only to his 11 colleagues, but to all people. Today, religion calls for boldness in words and works, although there’s likelihood of bhakts (devotees) sometimes being stumped, if not clean bowled.

Springtime for the heart

“Return to me with all your heart, fasting...” are the Biblical words that summarise the essence of the 40-day period of “Lent” preparing for the most important Christian feast: Easter. Today, the first day of Lent, is called “Ash Wednesday” when Christians have ash smeared on their foreheads as resolve to do special religious duties.
The English word Lent refers to the post-winter period when the weather gets warmer. There’s a plant called “Lenten Rose” (helleborus orientalis) whose sepals and foliage do not wither even during severe winters.

Imagine your own God

“It’s only in your imagination!” or “Don’t let your imagination run wild!” are statements that we often hear. It indicates that imagination is something we mistrust. It is true that imagination can distort truth when someone fabricates fanciful tales to peddle lies. However, do you realise that imagination is an inherent power that enables you to transcend the here and now when required? Imagination can help you to look back to relive a treasured past, or to look forward to build a better future. It also helps in relating and responding to God.

Rajas and their rajyas

Raja, today, is a fearful name associated with amazing amassing of wealth. The scamp and his scam notwithstanding, rajas (kings) have always held a privileged place in religious history. The tribes of West Africa, for instance, speak of Nyame ye Ohene, meaning, God is King. Likewise, the Bible highlights two royal images: God as King and humans as kings. Indeed, the latter is expected to reflect the former and the two ultimately merge as one.

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