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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Friday, April 03, 2015 - GOOD FRIDAY - GOD KNOWS, THEREFORE, I KNOW

To read the texts click on the texts: Is 52:13-53:12; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18:1-19:42

The phrase “God knows” is used most often to indicate lack of knowledge on our part. When something is beyond our comprehension and understanding we use the phrase “God knows”.  And in every sense of the word we are right, because God does indeed know.

However, even as we use the phrase, I am not sure whether we really mean it. This is because sometimes we tend to lose heart, we tend to lose faith and we give in to despair and lose hope. This indicates that we do not really believe that God knows.

I want to focus on three characters mentioned in the Gospel of John and try to apply this phrase “God knows” to all three. The first of these is Jesus. Jesus has washed the feet of his disciples and is aware now that he must go to the Cross, he must go to what God knows is to happen to him. Since Jesus believes in his heart that “God knows”, he goes to his cross courageously and without flinching. This is evident in the Passion of John. Having said that, however, I want to insist, that Jesus is not a sadist. He is not looking for trouble, he is not looking for the Cross, he is not looking to die. However, Jesus does what he has to do and only after he has done that leaves the rest ion God’s hands. If being faithful to his Mission means having to go to the Cross so be it. This is because Jesus knows that God knows. Even as Jesus hangs on the cross there is no miraculous rescue, Elijah will not come to save. There is no seeming intervention and interference by God, but Jesus is confident in the knowledge that “God knows”.  Those of us who might imagine that Jesus was God and therefore could go to the Cross as he did are very much mistaken. Jesus was fully human and it was in his full humanity that he went to his cross and his death and his annihilation. He did not have any foreknowledge of the resurrection, what he had only was his FAITH that “God knows”.

The second character is that of Mary. She is regarded in tradition as a model of faith, and yet she is not a Mary who is only docile and submissive. She is the handmaid of the Lord surely but she is also courageous enough to ask questions of God and expect an answer. Yet, when she receives an answer that goes beyond her comprehension, she does not persist, but accepts like Jesus humbly and courageously. If it is God’s will that she be the mother of a condemned man, if it is God’s will that her son be crucified to a tree, if it is God’s will that she stand at the foot of the Cross of her son, then so be it. God’s will be done because “God knows”.

Two words and one conviction you must take as you leave this evening the ONE CONVICTION that GOD KNOWS.


Aristotle define humans as rational animals, Rene Descartes took it one step further and said “I think, therefore I am” (ego Cogito ergo sum). I want you to take home another revelation today, “God knows, therefore I know”.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

METANOIA - A NEW MIND, A NEW HEART AND A NEW VISION. THIS IS THE MEANING OF REPENTANCE.

Where there is sin there cannot but be REPENTANCE. Our God is a God revealed in Jesus as a God who forgives before we sin, after we sin and even when we are in the very act of sinning. Repentance does not mean saying "I am sorry', but the willingness to look at everything in a new way. Since God looks at us as we are in the present, so we must look at everything, situation and person in the same way.

Thursday, April 2, 2015 - Maundy Thursday - I have given you an example...

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 12:1-8,11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-13

The English word Maundy comes from the Latin Mandatum which means command. And the reason why Maundy Thursday is so called is because the church celebrates this as the day in which Jesus gave his love command. What Jesus was in effect doing was summarizing his entire life. In bending down to wash the feet of the disciples in Jn 13:1-13, Jesus brings together all that he was, all that he is, all that he does. With Jesus there was no dichotomy, there was no separation between his being and his doing. Jesus did who he was. Jesus said what he did. And so, on this Maundy Thursday we are called through this event of the washing of the feet, to ask ourselves some serious questions, and the first of these is “Is there a separation between my being and my doing?
Am I one of those persons who say one thing but does another? Or am I a person who does not do what he says?

Am I a person who cannot be trusted to fulfill an obligation?

Am I a person who is known for not keeping his word? Another area that we can look at, is the area of our conditional, of determined love?

Is my love barter exchange? Do I expect something in return for my love? Is my relationship with people a matter of “you give me, I give you”? Is it a matter of how much can I get out of this person rather than how much can I give?

A third theme that we can look upon during this reflection is the prophetic gesture that Jesus performs when he washes the feet of the disciples. Many interpret this gesture as an action of a slave. However, John is very clear that the washing was not before the meal as slaves would do but when they were in the midst of the meal. And even though Jesus knows that Judas is going to betray him, even though Jesus knows that Peter is going to deny him, he washes their feet. And this is what is prophetic about the gesture. First, that it was done after the meal had begun, something totally unexpected, and second, that he could wash the feet of the betrayer, of a denier and of the others who ran away. So there was nothing within the disciples that would have prompted anyone to wash their feet; there was nothing within the disciples that would have made anyone reach out to them. It was what was in Jesus that made him even to look at the disciples with the eyes, the heart, the mind, of love. And even as he washed the feet of Judas and Peter, he was loving, forgiving and accepting them. This is the true meaning of forgiveness; it is the true meaning of love, it is the true meaning of Maundy Thursday.

So, If Jesus was able to bring together his being and his doing, his word and his action, I need to ask myself whether I can do that myself. If Jesus was able to love unconditionally, expecting nothing in return, I need to ask myself whether I’m capable of such love. If Jesus was able to love, forgive, and accept and pardon even those who he knew would reject him, deny him, betray him, am I capable of such forgiveness and acceptance? This is the theme of the life of Jesus, of the ministry of Jesus and of what Jesus is calling us to do before we enter, to reflect on his passion. And we need to ask ourselves what have I done for Christ, what am I doing for Christ, what ought I do for Christ?


During this time and before we can enter the passion proper, our hearts, our minds, our whole being must get ready for this challenge. In the gospel of Lk 9:57-62, we read about the would be disciples of Jesus, those who had the intention, may be even the desire of following, but those who had excuses ready why they could not follow. Am I like those would be disciples, am I like those who are ready with an excuse why I cannot love or cannot forgive, am I like those who are ready in fact that being and doing do not coincide and so can find an excuse. Or am I going to rise up to that challenge of Jesus who invites me today to take up your cross and follow him. And even as I spoke about love and forgiveness, I want to speak about your own love and forgiveness; I want to speak about your own love for your husband or your wife, for your children or parents, for your neighbour or your colleague, and I would like to ask you whether your love is unconditional or whether it can be termed barter exchange. A very good way to find that out is to ask yourself this question – one, do I love this person? Is it because of an obligation, is it because of a duty, is it because many years ago I made a commitment in the church, and so now I have to stick to that commitment? If that is the case, then it is very likely that your love is a barter exchange. But, if your love is without any kind of wanting from the other person then it can be like the love of Jesus. And even as you are unable to forgive, I would like to direct your attention to this beautiful scene, and picture in your mind’s eye of Jesus washing the feet of Judas, looking at him possibly, looking at his eyes and seeing in there the betrayal, and yet having the ability to wash his feet and forgive. If you can think, reflect, pray and know in your heart that you are capable of such love, then you can enter with the Lord into his passion.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

CLICK ON SIN TO HEAR THE TALK

We are living in a broken world and each one of us is a part of that brokenness. If black was the colour of Good and white the colour of bad, EVERYONE OF US would be GREY. There is SIN in every one of us. Thus any reflection of sin must begin WITHIN and also WITHOUT.

Wednesday, March 31, 2015 - Do you often blame God and others when things do not go the way you want them to go? Will you grow up and accept responsibility for your actions today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 50:4-9; Mt 26:14-25

The text on the day before Maundy Thursday invites us to reflect on the initiative taken by Judas in going to the chief priests and agreeing to betray Jesus, the preparation for the Passover and the prediction of Judas’ betrayal.

Matthew’s reason for the betrayal by Judas is greed. Judas wants something if he agrees to betray Jesus and agrees to the thirty pieces of silver offered to him, a detail mentioned only by Matthew. Unlike in Mark where the money is promised, in Matthew Judas is paid on the spot. Some see the reference to the thirty silver pieces as taken by Matthew from Zech 11:12-13 in which there is an obscure reference to the wages of a shepherd, who puts money back into the treasury. In Exod 21:32 thirty silver pieces is the price of an injured slave.

According to Exod 12:1-20, the Passover lambs were to be killed on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, and the festival itself began with the ritual meal on the evening that began the 15th of Nisan. The Festival of Unleavened Bread began on the 15th and continued for seven days, during which no leaven should be found in the house. By the first century, the two festivals had merged and their names were used interchangeably. In addition, the pious practice of removing leaven one day early, the 14th, had become common.
Preparation for the Passover involved (1) locating an appropriate place within the city walls of Jerusalem, the only legitimate location for eating the Passover meal; (2) searching the room for leaven and removing any items that might contain yeast (bread crumbs, etc.); (3) obtaining a lamb and having it ritually slaughtered by the priests in the Temple; (4) roasting the lamb and preparing it with the other necessary items for the meal in the place previously arranged. While it is important to Matthew for theological reasons that the last supper was a Passover, he narrates none of the details associated with the Passover meal and ritual, concentrating his interest on the meal of the new covenant to be celebrated.

While Judas’ question to the chief priests focuses on himself and what he can gain, the disciples question to Jesus focuses on Jesus and what he wants them to do.

After Jesus takes his place at the table, he announces the fact of his betrayal by one of the Twelve. This announcement leads to distress on the part of the disciples. Each asks in turn whether he is the one. Jesus responds by indicating that one of those who eat with him will betray him, but does not explicitly identify Judas. Judas’ question is left till after Jesus’ response.

The dialectic of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the passion is brought out strongly in Jesus’ comment that it would be better for the betrayer if he had not been born. Jesus is fully aware of who it is that will betray him. God is not taken by surprise in the betrayal that leads to crucifixion; it goes according to the divine plan expressed in Scripture. But this does not relieve the burden of human responsibility. God is fully sovereign, humanity is fully responsible.

Judas who is in the process of betraying Jesus asks if he is the one. Unlike the other disciples who address Jesus as Lord, Judas addresses him as Rabbi indicating that he is not an insider but an outsider. Jesus’ response “You said it” is a clear affirmation that Judas is indeed the one.

There are some, who because they find it easier, prefer to lay the blame at God’s door for their “misfortune”. These are people who have not yet grown up. If children blame others for the mistakes they make or refuse to accept responsibility it can be understood, but when adults do that it is a sign of not having grown up. While it is true that God remains sovereign, it is also true that we as humans have total freedom and thus must accept responsibility for our actions. We are always free to act as we see fit, but we must also realize that our every action has consequences which we must be willing to accept.


Monday, March 30, 2015

The First Rule of life and the Base on which all else rests.

In this talk http://youtu.be/BUxjdXSxIy4 which is for around 35 minutes, I suggest a way of life in which detachment is the key. While one might possess things, one must not allow things to possess us. While we may plan for the future we must never be obsessed with it and while we must learn from the past we do not need to regret it. Enjoy and feedback of any kind even if one disagrees is welcome.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - When things do not go the way you plan do you throw in the towel too quickly? Has your arrogance sometimes led to your downfall?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 49:1-6; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

The text of today begins after the action of the washing of the feet of his disciples by Jesus and the words that he speaks explaining the meaning of the event. Thus this text must be read with that background in view.

It begins by an announcement of the betrayal in the context of Jesus’ emotional distress. This announcement is greeted with confusion on the part of the disciples. This confusion is an indication that betrayal can lie in the heart of any disciple and that no one is really exempt or can take for granted his/ her fidelity. This confusion leads to questioning on the part of the disciples. Each wants to know who Jesus meant. “The disciple whom Jesus loved” is introduced for the first time in the Gospel and plays a prominent role from now on. The fact that the disciple is not named points to the fact that it is not so much the person, but his relationship to Jesus that defines and determines who he is. Like the Son who is in the bosom of the Father (1:18) so this disciple reclines in the bosom of Jesus. Prompted by Simon Peter’s nod, the beloved disciple asks Jesus who the betrayer is. Through the gesture of giving the morsel to Judas and his words, the contrast between the intimacy of the meal on the one hand and the betrayal by Judas on the other is brought into sharp relief. Even as he is offered a sign of friendship, intimacy and fidelity, Judas chooses distance, betrayal and infidelity. Though Jesus “knows” who will betray him, he still reaches out in love and friendship.

The mention of Satan entering Judas indicates that the real battle is not between Jesus and Judas but between Jesus and the powers’ of evil, between light and darkness, and between falsehood and truth. Jesus is willing to face head on and immediately the powers’ of evil and so instructs Judas to act quickly. Jesus alone understands the significance of the hour. The disciples remain ignorant and even misunderstand. That Judas leaves immediately is an indication that his commands are followed even as he is going to be betrayed. Jesus remains in control of all the events of his “hour”. The phrase “and it was night” can mean on the surface level a chronological notation. However, it has a much deeper meaning in John. On the deeper level it means that Judas has cut himself off from Jesus who alone is the light and also that he has sided with the darkness which tries to overcome the light.

The verses which follow and complete the reading of today can either be seen as a conclusion to the previous episodes of the washing of the feet and the prediction of the betrayal or as an introduction to the Farewell Discourse. They speak of the glorification of Jesus as Son of Man and also of the glorification of the Father. While it is true that the mutual glorification began when the father was manifested through the Son at the incarnation and continued in the words and works of Jesus, it will be completed and reach its fulfilment in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus to the Father. This final departure from the world and return to the Father is here seen as a seal of the disciples’ new relationship with God, with him and with one another. Jesus responds to Simon Peter’s question about his final destination by predicting Peter’s denial of him. Though Peter protests by offering his life to Jesus in keeping with the command to lay down one’s life for one’s friend, he speaks more from a misplaced enthusiasm than from the reality of the situation. When confronted with reality, Peter will in fact deny Jesus three times.

There are numerous times in our lives when things do not go the way we plan. It is as times like these that we tempted to throw in the towel like Judas and Peter did. However, the challenge is that even at times like these to continue to trust and believe that even though we may not fully understand why things happen the way they do, that God is still in control and will never let anything happen to is that is not for our good and for his glory.

Remaining with Jesus, following his commands and living the life that he demands is thus not an easy task. The numerous laws, rules and regulations of the Jews have been summarized into one command which is to love God by loving neighbour. This reduction of the numerous into one does not mean that the one is easier; it means that the focus has changed from external observance to internal disposition and from personal achievement to grace. That grace is at the heart of the command is made evident in the cases of Judas and Peter who both fail in keeping it. While Judas’ betrayal may be seen as a dramatic and extreme case of refusing to remain with Jesus and follow his commands, the denials by Peter indicate that every disciple is at risk of failure if he/ she depends on his/her own strength and not enough on the Lord.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Monday, March 30, 2015 - How will you make the unconditional love of Jesus tangible for at least one person today? Will you respond to the unconditional love of God like Mary or like Judas?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11

The story of the anointing of Jesus is found in all four Gospels. Yet, the manner of the anointing, the reason for the anointing and the anointing on the head as mentioned by Mark and Matthew and the feet as mentioned by Luke and John indicate that each evangelist interprets the anointing differently. While in Mark and Matthew the anointing is as a preparation for the burial of Jesus’ body and is thus just before the Passion, in Luke the anointing of the feet of Jesus by a sinful woman is an explication of her love and respect for Jesus and his love for her shown in the forgiveness of her sins. The woman is named only in the Gospel of John and is not Mary Magdalene. In John, she is Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Though it is not the head but the feet of Jesus which Mary anoints, the focus of the anointing here is the “hour” of Jesus. The dinner that Jesus is attending here is an anticipation of the last dinner that he will have with his disciples soon.

The story begins with the dinner given for Jesus by Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. The anointing by Mary is narrated immediately after this. Though Mark also points to the quality of the ointment, only John mentions the quantity. By wiping the feet of Jesus with her hair, Mary anticipates the wiping of the disciples’ feet by Jesus at the last supper. The anointing here therefore points to the washing and wiping of the feet of the disciples by Jesus. The protest about the extravagance of the gesture is voiced in John by Judas alone. This is already an anticipation of the betrayer’s role that Judas will play later in the garden. The protest of Judas is not genuine, because his concern stems from his own desire to steal. Jesus’ response to Judas is to point to the revelatory significance of Mary’s act. It is an anticipation of the final anointing after the death of Jesus and thus confirms that it will take place. Jesus also reminds his disciples of the limited time before his “hour” and invites them to recognize it like Mary did. They need to respond like her.

Since many of the Jews were going to Jesus and began to believe in him, the chief priests make plans to kill Jesus. They also plan to kill Lazarus so as not to leave any trace of the miraculous powers of Jesus and also to stop people from believing in him.
The contrast between the insight of Mary and the blindness of Judas is brought out powerfully in this story. She recognizes who Jesus is and the fate that awaits him and so acts accordingly. Judas on the other hand has closed himself to the revelation of God in Jesus and thus can only act to suit his selfish interests. The anointing of the feet by Mary and the wiping them with her hair is also an indication of the action of a true disciple of Jesus.

She anticipates what her master and Lord will do and does it. She does not need to be taught it like the other disciples at the last supper. She has learnt it by observing the actions of the Lord. Judas on the other has shown that he is not a true disciple because he is able to see only the negative in the loving action of service and reaching out. His only response is therefore to protest.


The love command was not only spoken of by Jesus but lived out by him throughout his life. The best manner in which that love command was manifested was not only in the washing of the feet of his disciples, but in the spreading out of his arms in total surrender and unconditional love. This is the love to which we as disciples are challenged today. We can decide to respond like Mary because we are convinced and have experienced the unconditional love of God ourselves, or we can be like Judas who focus on our own selfish interests and so miss out on the beauty and reality of unconditional love.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015 - Passion and Palm Sunday - Son and Slave, Servant and king

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 50:4-7; Phil2:6-11; Mk 14:1-15:47

In the past, the fifth Sunday of Lent (the Sunday before Palm Sunday) was known as Passion Sunday, However, following Vatican II, the sixth Sunday of Lent was officially re-named Passion Sunday. This Sunday is also called Palm Sunday, since palm branches are still distributed, but the focus is on the betrayal arrest, suffering and crucifixion of Jesus rather than on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem just before his death. Passion / Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week in which the Church commemorates the Last Supper and the first Eucharist on Holy Thursday and Christ’s death on Good Friday.

What Jesus experiences for us is a manifestation of God’s overwhelming love for each one of us. Further, by our identifying ourselves with the ‘mystery’ of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection we ourselves experience a great liberation, a joy and freedom. This is because Christ came for precisely this purpose, to save in and through his death.

This idea is brought out powerfully by Mark in his Passion Narrative, which, though the shortest of all the four, is unique in many ways. While some think that the Passion narrative proper begins with the last supper, others see it as beginning with the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane after the supper. The fact that the reading of today begins at 1:1 is an indication that the Church wants us to see the Passion Narrative beginning with the plot to arrest and kill Jesus. Be that as it may, it seems to me that the Passion Narrative actually begins after the Baptism of Jesus, when Jesus accepts the invitation of the Father to be both beloved son and slave, but more importantly the invitation to become beloved son and king, by being slave and servant.

Following the last supper and beginning with the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, the narrative may be seen to be divided into six parts. The first of these is the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, followed by the scene of his arrest. There is then the trial before the Sanhedrin or the Jewish trial followed by the Roman trial. This is followed by the way of the cross, crucifixion, and the events after the death of Jesus and concluded in the sixth scene by the burial of Jesus.

The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane (14:32-42) is a lesson in prayer. There are two aspects to this prayer. The first aspect is that this is the only time in the Gospel that Mark gives us the content of the prayer of Jesus. In the first part of the prayer, Jesus states his petition, but adds in the second part that he wants this to accord with God’s will. The second aspect of the prayer is that though Jesus does not hear the Father’s voice like he heard at his Baptism and Transfiguration, he gets up fortified after his prayer. The fact that he was fortified is seen clearly in Jesus’ response to those who come to arrest him (14:43-52). If God wanted it this way, Jesus was willing. The disciples all run away. Not even one remains.

The trial before the Sanhedrin (14:53-72) ends with the whole Sanhedrin condemning him, not one voice is raised in protest. The trial before Pilate (15:1-15), deals with a political question which is whether Jesus is king of the Jews. Jesus’ response is enigmatic. He neither denies nor confirms. Pilate representing the Roman authorities condemns Jesus to death.

On the way to the place of crucifixion, Jesus is hailed as King of the Jews albeit in mockery. Those who mock him do not realize that this is indeed the kind of king he has come to be. When on the cross, the passersby deride him and the chief priests mock him. Even the one crucified with him taunts him. Jesus has no support from anyone. He is alone. Not even his Father will come to his aid. But the centurion recognizes the crucified Jesus, the Jesus who dies on the Cross as Son of God.

The final scene in the Passion narrative which is the scene of Jesus’ burial (15:42-47) also reinforces the idea of a servant king. Joseph of Arimathea who was a respected member of the Sanhedrin that condemned him as deserving death now realizes that Jesus is indeed Son of God. This is what prompts him to take courage and ask Pilate for Jesus’ body, so that he could bury it. This is exactly how Jesus won victory. In his suffering and ignominy, God vindicates him. He becomes Son of God when he hangs on the Cross.

This vindication and exaltation forms the last part of the kenosis hymn of Paul. The hymn summarises the whole of salvation history succinctly. It begins with the pre-existence of Christ, moves on to the incarnation and mission and then narrates his passion and death on the cross before speaking of his resurrection and exaltation.


However, there is no room for any kind of triumphalism here! There is no room for a victory that does not first know the “fellowship of His sufferings” on behalf of others. He clung to nothing; he let go of everything. Do we have the courage to do likewise?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015 - Impatience is trying to go faster than the Holy Spirit. Are you by nature impatient?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek37:21-28; Jn 11:45-56

The first two verses of today can be seen as the conclusion of the miracle story of the raising of Lazarus. While some of those who witnessed the miracle respond positively, others do not. However, the number of those who believe is more than that of those who do not as is evident in the use of “many” for those who believed and “some” for those who did not. The chief priests and Pharisees respond to the information they receive about the miracle by calling a meeting during which they discuss the fate of Jesus. Their main concern seems to be their own loss of power. They do not seem really interested in the destruction of the temple or even Jerusalem but with the effect that Jesus’ popularity will have on their own selfish interests.

Caiaphas who was high priest speaks on behalf of all of them. Even as he wants Jesus to die so that greater trouble can be avoided, he is in fact unknowingly prophesying about the true meaning of the death of Jesus. Though his sole aim is political expediency, he is collaborating in God’s plan of salvation for the whole of the human race. He uses his power to suppress God’s word but in effect witnesses to him. In his death Jesus would gather together all the scattered people of God to bring them to a union and unity never witnessed before.

Jesus retreats to Ephraim after the Sanhedrin’s decision. This retreat, however, is not to escape death but to control its time. Jesus will not go to his death until his hour arrives. It is God who decides that hour and no amount of human plotting or planning can hasten its arrival.

Even as the Passover draws near, questions remain about whether Jesus will come to the feast or not. It is not clear whether those who are looking for him have a positive or malicious intent. The question, however, reinforces the idea that Jesus acts not according to the will of human beings but of God and if God so ordains then no matter what the threat or consequence, Jesus will do what is required.


God’s ways are not our ways. As high as the heavens are from the earth so are God’s ways different from ours. It is not always possible to accept this simple truth and there are times when we try to go faster than the Holy Spirit because of our impatience. We are reminded as we reflect on today’s readings that there will be numerous times when we will knowingly or unknowingly try to upset the plans of God because they do not fit in with what we think is good for us. At times like these we too behave like the adversaries of Jesus. We have to realize that no matter how much we try we will never be able to upset God’s will for the world though it might seem sometimes that we have and can. When we witness evil overpowering good, selfishness dominating selflessness or fear overtaking love, then it might seem that we have done so. However, these “victories’ are only temporary as was the victory of the ones who crucified Jesus on the cross. In the final race it is always God who wins, it is always selflessness that come first and it is always love that will overcome.