Whenever the people of God out of their miseries have called upon God, he has answered them. He cannot be inactive before the pains and agonies of his people. In each and every moment of history, he chooses prophets and leaders to respond and answer to the cry of his people. “The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3: 9 – 10).
Very Rev. Fr. Basilius Panat, the founder of the Little Flower Congregation (CST Fathers), is indeed an answer to the cry of the people of God. When people lived in poverty, illiteracy, misery and with no hope in life, God chose and raised him as a guide, comforter and mentor.
Imbibing strength and guidance from the life of St. Therese of Child Jesus, he tried to wipe out the tears of the people of God. Filled with compassion and love in the heart, he became a living example of the mercy of God who prefers mercy than sacrifice (Mt 9: 13). When his dream of ‘rural upliftment’ and his mission ‘be little and serve the little’ joined together, it led him to the foundation of the Little Flower Congregation.
Prophets are the people who walk ahead of the time and those who serve as the guiding stars of transformation.
The compassionate love to the poor and the vision of Fr. Basilius is still relevant even beyond space and time. Wherever the people of God live in pain, misery, suffering, spiritual thirst and hunger the vision and mission of Fr. Basilius becomes relevant. In our present age, where selfishness, materialism etc are prominent, he teaches us the beauty of being simple and living for others.
Through the book of Jeremiah, God says: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer 3: 15). As we commemorate the 40th death anniversary of Fr. Basilius on 4th October, let us wholeheartedly thank God for gifting us a shepherd after His own heart. May his life and example help and motivate us to be with the poor and the needy.
Fr. Prince Chakkalayil CST