Christmas is here again; how quickly the last year has passed and how generously the Lord God has blessed us and cared for us. It is indeed a time for expressing our joy, celebration of friendship, expression of love and thanksgiving. It is a time of reunions and renewal of friendships. Therefore, I find special joy in writing about the love of God. Christmas is all about God’s love for us and celebration of that love through life, mission, and ministry of Jesus Christ. May I share that love and joy with all who read this article through the ‘Light of Life’ fellowship at this Christmas. I enjoyed writing regularly last year and specially thank Dr. Rajan Mathew and other members of his team for their generosity for allowing me to share various thoughts with you all. I enjoyed reading other writers and I thank them for their contributions and helping in many ways to grow together as a community of friends from all corners of the world. May you enjoy the happy tidings of Christmas in every moment of your life and may it help us to transform our lives in the way that God wants us to be in places and situations that God has placed us.

As I had spent more than forty-five years of my professional life working on various aspects of organ transplantation and transplantation-related clinical research, it is not surprising to find a great attraction to the idea of ‘grafting the love of God into our hearts.’ I came across the phrase in a collection of prayers published by William Barclay, the great New Testament scholar. A great deal of attention is needed for transplanted organs to survive. Finding a certain degree of identity or compatibility in matching the genetic make up between donor and recipient, cross-matching for acceptability, surgical manipulation, nursing, post transplant monitoring, immunosuppression and constant medical surveillance are all part of the success in grafting organs and tissues. It is this constant involvement with patients, which makes transplantation a great success story of the twentieth century. Now how do you graft the love of God into our hearts? Grafting God’s love into our being also requires a great deal of preparation and involvement. But we have the God-given advantage of God loving us first from the very beginning of our existence. A very special person is waiting at our door to accept our hospitality. Our God is a waiting God for our response, He is an ever patient God as well. He has given us freedom to respond, he is not forcing us to accept Him, our freedom is very important to him. St. John had the understanding of God standing at the door and knocking. We read this in Revelation Chapter 3: 20. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.” This waiting is very much like the image of the father we expect to understand from the story of the prodigal son.

There is an unforgettable moment in Ramayana when Lord Rama is preparing his departure from the earth and saying good byes. He gives Hanuman his bracelet as a memento. Hanuman destroys the bracelet for he did not want to carry an artefact relating to Rama, he wants to live within the life of Lord Rama as his friend for ever. He wants to be transplanted, grafted, and needs a symbiosis and permanent union. When Vibishna Challenges Hanuman, "Why don't you destroy your body as well?" Hanuman tares open his chest with his sharp finger nails to show how his Lord’s name is written on every bone of his body. This is what every God-fearing person should do; we should destroy all our selfishness and ego boundaries to become a ‘new creation’ to carry His signature in every layer and aspect of our being. We should be willing to be within God's kingdom to identify with its values. This is our journey to perfection under divine grace.

Sam Kuntz was a great Afro-American transplant surgeon at the Down State University in New York, he would have been a senator or a future secretary of the State for Health, but he died, sadly, in the sixties at a very young age; he used to know each and every patient in intimate terms, how they responded and their individual needs; during his early morning ward rounds, he used to say if a patient is not smiling and saying “Hello Doc”, then he is rejecting his transplanted kidney. As he was involved with them so deeply he could sense a rejection without laboratory tests or a biopsy. Hospital administrators see a ward full of patients and they are happy of the money they bring, but Sam saw individual patients with different needs; he saw them as individuals, with physical, medical, surgical, emotional, and spiritual needs. This is a level of involvement that we should have in grafting the love of God into our lives. Disciples saw crowds, but Jesus saw individuals in the crowd with specific needs. When get grafted with the love of God we should be able to see individual in the crowds with unspoken needs. Christmas is particularly a time that we write very personal and endearing notes to our friends and relations, at Christmas time we buy gifts to fit individuals that we love, we have the image of the person in our mind when we select a gift. Searching for addresses, scratching the memory for Christian names, buying and packing presents and cooking for Christmas day are all done with great care and concern for individuals that we know and love.

‘I am the true vine’ passages and ‘abide in me’ passages of St. John’s Gospel give us an assurance about this grafted life in Jesus. This grafting is not done by our efforts but through God’s amazing grace because it says further in this Gospel, “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” This is an amazing adoption; what did we do to deserve this? This realisation should allow us to bend our knees in utter humility to accept this new status. In Bhagavad-Gita we read, “But he who is deluded by ego thinks ‘I am the doer.’ He who has the true insight into the operations of gunas and their various functions knows that the gunas acts on gunas, and remains unattached to his action.” Disciples are compared to branches of vine drawing their life-giving energy from the vine of Christ with whom they are intimately grafted. Without this grafting with the source of life, a branch dies. This realisation gives St. Paul the courage to say, “I live, yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).

This grafted life is important for discipleship because Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples; you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Therefore, it is important to allow ourselves to be totally and completely immersed in Jesus to have an organic union with him; this may help others to find Jesus though our lifestyles and actions. St. Peter expresses his eagerness for completeness when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples; initially, Peter says, “You will never wash my feet.” But, when Peter partially understands that Jesus’ washing of their feet is a powerful symbol of his love towards them, he wants more than just washing of his feet, he says, “Lord, do not wash only my feet, then! Wash my hands and head too!”(John 13: 8, 9). It is very clearly stated that it is not words but action that is important to lead a spiritual life. Not everyone who calls him’ Lord , Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only those who do the will of his heavenly Father. This is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Let Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

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