|PART ONE : How Jesus Taught Me to Overcome My Hatred
|PART TWO : How Jesus Taught Me to
|PART THREE : How Jesus Taught Me
|HOW JESUS TAUGHT ME TO OVERCOME
|"With my prayers you will not overcome your Hatred"
|A few years ago, I went for a spiritual retreat at
the Divine Centre in Muringoor, Kerala (India). After a few interactions,
my counsellor there told me, “Giju [my pet name], you have hatred
in your mind.” I dismissed his comment, unwilling to accept
it. The subject came up again when I attended another retreat at the
Paritrana Retreat Centre in my hometown, Kottayam. Though I did not
know it then, this retreat was the beginning of the new me. My counsellor
there was Fr Arayathanal (Chackochen). A gifted priest, he helped
me look at myself in the light of the Gospels. He guided me to look
at myself as Jesus Christ would have done. Christ showed me the intense
hatred in myself and convinced me that I had sinned. From that moment
onwards, I had a great desire to overcome my hatred.
|Following the second retreat, I became a regular at
prayer fellowships led by Fr Michael Panachikkal. Christ had another
surprise waiting for me. At one meeting, Fr Michael asked me what
I thought of God. I said, “God is love. And He is very kind.”
“Is that your personal opinion?” Fr Michael asked. I got
a jolt and shot him another question, “Are you trying to corner
me, Father?” He smiled and said, “Not at all!”
I decided to come clean and said, “Actually, what I believe
is quite contrary to what I just told you. God expects us to forgive
those who have wronged us, but never forgives us when we are in the
wrong. We are taught that God is Love, but also that he will punish
us if we sin. This confuses me! I cannot understand God’s nature.
Hence, I cannot love Him.”
Fr Michael thanked me for being frank and said, “Actually, you
have never known Jesus Christ and so you have never known God.”
|I hastily interrupted him and said, “But I do
pray and read the Bible every day. I attend Holy Mass twice a week
and go for prayer fellowships every week. So how can I not know Christ?”
He looked at me compassionately and said, “One day, you will
experience God through his son Jesus Christ, and only then will you
truly realise that God is love.” I was shaken. All throughout
my life I had looked at God only through my varied experiences. Here
was a new revelation and challenge to see the Father through his Son,
|Soon, I went for another retreat led by Fr Michael,
where he reaffirmed the message that once I started seeing the Father
through the Son, I would clearly see God as a “loving father”
and not a “punishing God”. In my heart, I liked the message
and was moved by it, but my brain was not ready to accept it.
|While these challenges were ruling my spiritual life,
I was running a factory and things were moving from bad to worse on
the financial front. I poured out my woes to Fr Michael, who gave
me a patient hearing. Then he said: “Your problem is not financial
or your hatred for others. It is your misunderstanding about God.
You do not believe in the God shown to us by Christ. Only when you
believe will your problems and hatred disappear.” God was sending
the same message to me repeatedly, but I was unable to see Him through
Christ. How could I? You see, my mind was programmed to see Him only
through my experiences.
|Several weeks later, I attended another retreat in
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It was a fasting retreat and we went without
food and water for the entire retreat. My guide there was again a
priest and he asked me, “Giju, what is your real problem? Is
I replied, “Father, my real problem is that I hate someone.
Please pray for me so that I can overcome this hatred.” He shook
his head sadly and said, “No, Giju. Even with my prayers, you
will not be able to overcome your hatred.”
|Aghast, I said: “Father, when you pray people
are cured of their illness and their financial problems vanish. I
am not asking you to pray for my financial situation. I only want
to get rid of hatred.”
|“Giju, when others ask me to pray for them, I
do pray. But you are asking me to pray for you to overcome your hatred.
This is one of the most important problems of mankind. No one can
overcome their hatred with someone else’s prayers,” said
the priest kindly.
|“Jesus asked us to forgive and love one another.
But I am unable to get rid of hatred. So, how can I believe in God
and His existence,” I asked. The priest replied, “One
has to experience Christ, only then will he be able to overcome hatred.
That is the real blessing from the Almighty.”
Later, I shared my problems with my uncle, he too said, “Only
when Christ comes into your life will your problems will vanish.”
Disturbed, I asked my father if he knew of anyone who had overcome
hatred. He said, “None, so far.” By and by, everyone I
requested for prayers turned me down. The answer was the same, “Know
Christ, know peace.”
I turned to the New Testament to find and know Christ.