Umm…! Smells Good!

Witnessing Christ in the workplace. I’ve always thought this a very difficult and touchy thing to accomplish. As someone who has completed work terms in Canada, India and the Middle-East, I’ve noticed things common to every workplace – routine, stress and mundaneness. One thing I came to realise is it will be difficult to witness Christ with a direct, head-on approach at the workplace. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says through us is spreading everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of [Christ]. Food, especially Indian cuisine, has a strong aroma and will linger on our clothes. If it is flavourful, this aroma entices those around, makes them curious about the food, and in some cases they ask where the food came from. This is the most elegant way of witnessing Christ. Amidst stress, routine and dullness of day-to-day work life, the aroma of Christ on us will be so profound that it will leave people wondering about its source.

As our clothing will need to be exposed to the strong aroma for a while to absorb it, we too need to spend quality time in the presence of God (sacraments, adoration, faith activities, etc.) to absorb his aroma. Over the past few years, as God allowed my life and faith to grow deeper and more rooted in him, the fruits of the Holy Spirit (i.e. the aroma of Christ) started to become more visible in me (without my immediately realising it). Recently, I started a new job and after an eventful work day, a co-worker asked me, ‘How on earth are you so calm?’ It was startling to hear that as I hadn’t realised I was such a person. In fact, I was the complete opposite – who for the majority of my life would have sleepless nights for every small task/event coming up (a school presentation, an exam, even meeting a new person, etc.). As I spent time in reflection, I realised I was in fact a lot calmer, controlled and joyful in comparison to my previous self. The only difference being my time spent with God.

However, I’ve noticed that the aroma cannot be forced upon others, it must be a gentle push by the Holy Spirit. As the Lord allows this aroma to permeate our workplaces, slowly people will come to the root of our calmness, our joy, our patience, our faithfulness (faithfulness in duties/tasks) and other desirable traits – Christ. In addition, things like bringing up our faith, subtly into conversation without going into detail, wearing a crucifix, etc. help connect the dots to Christ and God willing, opens the door to direct witnessing, leaving them yearning to taste Jesus.

Kevin Parambil, Calgary, Canada

Reassured in the Divine Navigator

We are living in a moment in time when culture is becoming increasingly secular. Practising one’s faith has become difficult, especially when most of the people around disbelieve the existence of God. For those of us who try to live the faith, there is always fear of what others might think and that of being rejected because of our beliefs.One obvious workplace question I face every Monday is, ‘How was your weekend?’ People usually talk about parties they had, trips they went on, etc. For a long time I would say I had a quiet weekend, or spent time with friends, or did some shopping and so on. This in spite of being busy with Jesus Youth events. I once had a chat with a senior JY leader regarding this, and he encouraged me to share the reality with my colleagues. This inspired and gave me the courage to speak the truth. Since then, I saw this routine question as an opportunity to talk about Christ, share testimonies, experiences, Word of God, etc.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33) We once had a national conference at the workplace, limited to a few select people. One such conference in the past had given me the opportunity to network and obtain additional responsibilities which led to my promotion within the business. However, this time, having already committed to a JY event, I decided to skip the conference. When I informed him, my manager was shocked, unable to understand what could be more important than a career-building conference. Few days later, during an informal chat, he enquired about the JY event and said that he respected me for staying true to my commitment.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) While this is one of my favourite Scripture verses, it is also difficult as I feel God gives me situations to test my trust. In 2017, our company decided to lay-off many employees, a whole team was made redundant. A lot of emotions went on display. Many could not handle the news, worried about how they would survive, feed the family, pay the bills, mortgages, etc. I too had to face the same, but deep inside there was this reassuring feeling that God was in control. This was one of the many situations in which I was led to trust in his ways.

Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words – St. Francis of Assisi.

One cannot just be a JY for a specific time of the week or only when everything goes well. We have committed ourselves to a lifestyle and should live it 24×7; it may only be through us that some people come to the knowledge of Christ.  I have learned this the hard way.

Let the small things that we do inspire others and bring them closer to Christ.

Vipin Varghese, Christchurch, New Zealand

The mind-boggling  plans of God

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Do you believe it? If not, you must hear my testimony. If you believe it, am sure my testimony will increase your faith. Yes, this Bible verse has influenced my life, strengthened me during all the hurdles and trials I’ve had to endure.I was one of those lukewarm Catholics who never pondered about God’s plans for myself. I had no idea what my future would be since I was a back-bencher in school, who just wanted to play and do crazy things. But now that I know God had great plans for me, I will tell you how the Lord was moulding me in my career.

As mentioned before, I was never good at studies. My school principal too was unsure if a few of my friends and myself be allowed to attend the board exams for fear of the school losing its record 100% pass in the higher secondary exams. But we made it! And then arose the question, ‘What’s next?’ I didn’t score well in any of the qualifying exams, but ended up getting admission to an engineering college to which my parents accidentally applied on behalf of me. I was forced to join and I hated it there! I didn’t know which stream of engineering to choose and for some reason I opted for Electrical Engineering – a subject I didn’t understand a thing of.

Phew! That got done in 4 years, and now what? Clueless, I tried for several jobs but nothing worked out. A few months later, after speaking to a friend who was going to Canada for higher studies, I suddenly decided to do the same – even the same course he chose. I hadn’t wanted to continue studies in any form but ended up studying Embedded Systems Development (which was one of the rigorous PG diplomas in the institution I studied) and then I took up Software Testing, despite the subject being not connected with what I had studied. Believe it or not, I hated programming! You could ask me why I took these courses up, the answer is, I DON’T KNOW.

That was when I encountered Jesus and came across Jeremiah 29:11. Everything that later happened was never in my plans before. I got an eight-month job as QA Analyst even before completing my studies. ME? Yes! A year later, the next wonder took place that made me realise God’s plan for me. I got a job interview call for a new position where the requirement was for someone with a core Engineering Degree, a background in Embedded Systems and QA work experience! Bingo! This was where I got the answers to why I had studied Electrical Engineering, why I took Embedded Systems, why I studied Software QA!

Yes, God does have big plans for our lives, beyond our imagination and I am an example of it. I now believe, all that happened in my life has got its own reason and all it happened for my good. Also, whatever happens tomorrow is all according to his PLAN! If the Lord can care for me in such a mind-boggling way, he definitely will take care of you too. God Bless!

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Linto Kariyil Lovely, Ontario, Canada

Winning Battles with Him

Romans 8:28: We know that all things work for good for those who love God who are called according to his purpose.

My career as a Physician Assistant started in 2010. When I got the highly desirable job at a government clinic, a short drive from home, I thought it was the culmination of my long, hard journey and that I could finally rest. Little did I know that the Lord had just started on the process of refining me.

As a primary care provider, I was expected to prescribe contraceptives and refer my patients for vasectomies on demand. Though I tried to justify that it was not I making those choices and that I was only fulfilling their demands, the Holy Spirit kept convincing me of the fact that I was cooperating with grave evil. I kept bringing this to confession and every priest I confessed to, advised me to try and find another job. This was a hard decision for me as that would mean giving up a convenient job close to home, choosing to drive over an hour every day and also undergoing more years of training to change my speciality.

James 4:7, 8 says: So, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hand, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.

I repented, taking full responsibility for my sins and asked God for mercy and forgiveness and his grace flowed from the sacrament of penance. Isaiah 43:19 says, He will make ways for me in the wilderness and rivers in the wasteland. Our Lord wanted me to trust him. When I decided to pursue a job that would not cause me to sin, he worked another miracle in my life. He opened up a new speciality position with the same clinic I was working with. Praise God! Though it involved travelling to a different facility further away and more years of training and hardship, the One who called me was faithful and was with me through all my trials.

I work as a speciality PA in Orthopedics and Podiatry and every day I feel him guiding me. I am reminded of my weakness and that I need him every step of the way so that I do not falter or take pride in my ability. I draw strength from him every day like the psalmist sings in Psalm 1:3, like a tree planted near streams of water. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me as I perform procedures on my patients or to fill me with his love so that I do not lose patience when I encounter difficult patients.

I realise that my struggles will always be present, but that my Father goes before me in my battles so I can win them with his help. Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways, be mindful of him and he will make straight your paths.

Cindu Kunthara, Texas, USA

The Logic behind Service

The day I became a doctor, only the sun seemed to shine brighter than the smiles of my parents. Rather than bustling with joy, I felt lighter, calm and composed. Like any other person who had successfully attained his dream profession, I too was on fire and wanted to express gratitude to God by doing all the good in the world.

Few months into this job and at a time when Covid-19 was carelessly thought of en masse as just ‘a fever and cold’, realities of this profession landed as a sucker punch. I had to get used to sleep deprivation, blood, cries and complaints of post-operative patients, and finally the fact that this job wasn’t as rewarding as I’d thought or the fact that I couldn’t solve every patient’s ailment. At that moment, I realised that the ‘prize’ I expected for doing my job well, was found elsewhere!

To go the extra mile, be it patient care or doing what is required, we need not look elsewhere for motivation. The one who suffered on the Cross, is all we need. Christianity is the only place where I could find the answer to ‘why’ God created us. We came into being in the image of God, to share the overflowing love within the Triune God and that is our mission on Earth. How we go about it varies with our vocation. Genuine service, be it doing what’s best for the patient, reducing the waiting period or even giving some reassuring advice, is an exceptional form of conveying that love and hence, the logic behind it.

To me, the joy of serving is knowing that I am doing what God himself did. In all his glory and magnificence, he nurtured us and held us in high regard. The prize is with him and in the knowledge that with each action, you are one step closer to what he intends you to be.

We often tend to forget to give back to others since we get too comfortable with our current situation and by virtue of that very God-given blessing. We tend to forget the times we’ve leaned on him to get through tough times that otherwise would have backed us up against a wall and hindered us from being what we are today. It is highly likely that most of us, as Christians, go through some variant of this plight, at some point in time and this is largely due to the fact that we are chasing our own customised and tailored version of gratification or success, mostly a product of popular culture. In short, Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence and a plethora of other glorious attributes, yet God chose to define himself as Love. So, if this is what Christ did and the benchmark is set, can we afford to fall behind?

Rejat Benny, Palakkad, India

This is my call, If I don’t, who will?

I never intended to be a nurse, it was not my choice at all. But there was no other option before me at the time. I didn’t know anything about nursing, because neither my family members nor relatives were nurses. It was only after I joined nursing and began my postings that I realised how hard the life of a nurse was. When one falls sick physically, he is affected emotionally and spiritually as well. I started my career in an institution where I could begin my day with Holy Mass and was blessed with a spiritual atmosphere. I really enjoyed working there with my friends and colleagues who were supportive of each other. every day I would share my ups and downs with the Lord Jesus, sitting before the Blessed Sacrament.

Few years later, the Lord chose me to move to another country. The only thing I asked him was the grace to continue my spiritual life wherever I went. True enough, the Lord provided me a church nearby where I could go for daily Mass. Another blessing I received was the opportunity to be actively part of the Jesus Youth movement. The new work environment was extremely difficult to get used to, so was handling the new expectations. Philippians 4:13 says: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. As I started trusting in his words, I began to cope well with work.

Gradually, I felt my focus shifting entirely to my career, I was forgetting the call of the Lord. I was doing my duty without the presence of the Lord with me, I was merely relying upon my human ability alone. My heart became heavy and I found it so difficult to move on. So, I decided to leave the nursing field. I quit my job and returned home.

Once I turned away from my call and started life as a housewife, I couldn’t find much time to pray and I felt something lacking deep within my heart. That led me to sadness and sickness even though I had every means to live and was surrounded by loving and supportive people. I thought deeply about the sadness and difficulties of my life. I asked the Lord, ‘Why are you allowing these to me?’ There were a lot of questions on my mind. On one occasion the Lord inspired me to go back to the country we had left – that was humanly impossible. But it was God’s plan. We came back to the country again with our three children. Together with the financial trouble, it was the toughest time of our life. Earlier, I had never realised the value of money because life had provided us everything, but we overcame that situation with the support of friends, both JY and others.

I realised that this was my call and I needed to be a witness for him through my profession. If I failed to do my part, there was no one else to do it. What I am called to do, I must. This experience renewed me and gave me the strength to carry out all my duties as a nurse with joy. Last year my manager asked me to nurse Covid patients, in the Covid ICu. Immediately I said yes. That was a very different experience for me, people around kept asking, ‘Are you scared?’ and I would tell them, ‘This is God’s will.’ After I began to care for these patients, I witnessed miracles after miracles. In spite of the fact that the working environment became more complicated and challenging, the Lord gave me strength to strongly go forward. So now I can confidently proclaim Colossians 3:23, Whatever your task, put yourself into it, do it heartily, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.

My dear friends in Christ, especially those who work in health care professions, are you tired, bored, abandoned, discriminated, criticised or scared to work in this current situation? Do not give up. You are the chosen ones to continue His ministry of healing the sick and to comfort and console the people around us. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he suffered and died for us, and what of us? We are God’s creation. Our sufferings and sorrows lead us to Jesus in heaven. Jesus says Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it for me Matthew 25:40.

Sheena Anil, Singapore

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