Saturday, 26 March 2011

Our Leprosy

In the developing countries of today's world, there still exist the dreadful disease called leprosy. If we were to see this lady in the picture sitting along the streets and as we walk pass her, she grabs hold of our skirts or jeans and looks into our eyes, pleading for our help, what would our reaction be? Some of us might stare back at her compassionately, seemingly understanding her pains and sufferings. Some of us might get a shock and quickly jump aside in fear. Some of us might look at her suspiciously and quickly walk on and escape the awkward situation. Yet, some of us might have spotted her from a distance and made a detour to avoid her from the start. Thankfully, Medical Science has discovered the cure to this disease that immediately throws the victim into isolation, discrimination, rejection and complete worthlessness. Yet, many people are still suffering from leprosy because the cure has not reached them. 

If we think that leprosy is a disease that plagues those in the poorer countries and has little relevance to us, I'd like to propose that we consider a different type of leprosy, that which, in place of the sores and rotting flesh, is the rotting of our hearts due to sins and the hardships, sufferings and hurts that we bear each day. Our hearts and lives are being "eaten" away, alongside with our passion for life, our concern and love for our neighbour and the hope for a meaningful life etc. We suffer, in the developed countries, a different type of leprosy; a leprosy that eats up our quality time with family, removes our energy throughout the day at work or school so that at the end of each day, we are left with only the frustration of another day of ill-treatment of life's meaningless rat race. It is a leprosy that eats up our eyes that once saw more readily beyond our needs to those of others, a leprosy that eats up our legs that once walked without boundaries the extra mile for a friend or stranger, a leprosy that eats up our hands that once extended less suspiciously to help another, ears that once were more willing and patient to listen, shoulders that once more selflessly supported another, lips that once spoke the language of love. And our hearts... leprosy is eating it up. Our hearts that once were more focused on goodness but have grown to seek out for more in life in cash and lifestyles, finding the direction of how to get ahead of others. Our minds are filled with sores too... the bubbles that contain the secularised values of the world but once burst, all becomes nothing but fluid flowing out. 

The physical illness of leprosy is easy to cure but not the leprosy of our lives. Yet, Jesus offers us His cure, the only cure, that of Himself. And He wants to cure us so that we can be healthy again in our hearts, minds, souls and lives; healthy again so that we may find true meaning and fulfilment in our pilgrimage on earth. Jesus does not see a leper and shuns him. He does the exact opposite - He embraces and heals the leper. He is always compassionate, always loving, 
always merciful, always providing for our every need. If we want to be healed of our pains and sufferings, if we want to be made complete again and to experience the joy of life, we have to go to the Healer, asking Him for His mercy, love and compassion, pleading for His Divine Providence to touch our hearts, our lives and to grant us His complete healing. Only with faith, patience, genuine love for God and humility can we rejoice one day of being "clean" again. Jesus wants to hold us in His 
hands, to comfort and love us, to heal and to purify us, to walk with us and lead us. Despite our many sores in our lives, He does not shun away from us. He wants to hold us in His hands but we must place ourselves in His hands. 

Will you take this hand and go wherever He leads you?

Saturday 26 March 2011

Friday, 25 March 2011

Mingled Among Sinners

mark 2:17

17When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Jesus invites us to a new way of living; a new way of hope over despair, of peace over violence, of justice over abuse, of forgiveness over hatred, of love over selfishness. He calls especially those who precisely have not been living fully in His ways; He calls us to a journey of faith. In this journey, He presents to us His way to live life, that of  placing our hope entirely on Him, to be fully aware of ourselves, our strengths as well as weaknesses, and to constantly choose against sin. When we fail and get disappointed by the weight of our sins, we fall. But He gave us His example to stand up against the crushing weight of the cross upon His shoulders and to walk on. In this light, Jesus shows us that the way to fulfilling the Father's Will is not to be defeated by the weight of our crosses and our crumbling in our weaknesses but rather, it is to stand up and keep walking on each time we fail, we fall, trusting at all times in His Mercy, Providence and Faithfulness.

In His public ministry, Jesus was more often than not found in the company of sinners, those judged and condemned and the outcast of society. Instead of keeping Himself within the circle of the "learned", "holy", and "righteous", He mingled His Perfection with the imperfections of sinners, with our own imperfections. Instead of upholding His Godly presence among people, He weaved His Divinity into our humanity in total humility. Jesus sees pass our imperfections and sets His gaze on the inner good that God created in each and every one of us when He created us in His image and likeness. I'd like to believe that Jesus, in asking us to imitate Him, is asking us to be welcoming of those whom society treats disrespectfully, to accept those who do not share the same life attitudes and values as ourselves and thus, we cannot see eye to eye with, and to be patient with those who infuriate us with their stubborn, self-centred and inconsiderate behaviours. Also, He is affirming us that no matter who we are, what our lives are like, He, the God who sits and eats in the company of sinners, will also be close to us because He, too, wants to bring us to salvation.

Being humanly weak, we can only imitate Christ in so far as God provides us with the graces we need; alone, we can never succeed. So, let us pray, asking God for the many graces we need to desire more earnestly to imitate His way of living, to go to Him for pardon and strength to pick ourselves up when we fall into sin, and to eliminate division between ourselves and those we have branded as being "different from us", having "no common interest" and "contrasting lifestyles" etc so that we can grow in sensitivity towards the needs of all peoples and we do not contribute to greater divisions, which society has already put in place to marginalise and discriminate.

25 March 2011, Friday

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Prayer - God's Guidance

Taken from the Carmelites website

Father, our source of life,
I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand;
let me walk more readily in Your ways.
Guide me in Your gentle mercy,
for left to myself I cannot do Your Will.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

So Much

We are precious, indescribably precious... 
If not in anyone's eyes, surely, in the eyes of God.
We are loved, infinitely loved...
If not in anyone's hearts, surely, in the heart of God. 
We do matter, a great deal in fact...
If not in anyone's thoughts, surely, in the thoughts of God. 
Even if everyone in the whole world thinks we are junk, insignificant and rejects us, we can still hold firm to the truth that we are sons and daughters of the Father, loved, cared for, protected and created in His own image and likeness. God's inclusive love, Christ's inclusive death on the cross, are for everyone from all races, generations, nationalities. We must mean so much to Him... that much that He would go through so much pain and sufferings just to open the door of salvation to us, undeserving sinners. Now, let's open wider the door to our hearts so that He may enter more fully and make a home in us.

Saturday 19 Mar 2011

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

One Eternal Relationship

All relationships will eventually come to an end; only one is for eternity - that with God. Taking a shift in perspective, we must acknowledge that all our human relationships are temporal. They end with death or as we move from one phase of life to another. If we are able to accept this truth, the question then will be "Which relationship(s) do I want to place my focus and energy on then?"

If we rent a house to live in for a month as a temporary shelter, will we unpack all our boxes of belongings and display out everything on the shelves, place all the other stuff into the cupboards etc? We will probably not take out everything and display everything because we know that in a few weeks time, we will have to repack everything into their boxes and shift again. we will treat the house as a rented place and will not develop very much emotional attachment to the place.

On the contrary, if we bought a house and moved in with the intention of living there for at least another 10 years or so, then surely, we will unpack all our belongings, decorate the house and load the cabinets with our own storage systems. We will let ourselves settle down into the house, familiarise with the neighbours and surrounding environment, infrastructure, transportation, etc. The place, neighbourhood and the house begin to grow a sentimental value in our hearts. How difficult it is to part from a neighbourhood in which we grew up in or have spent many years living in even though we may be moving to a better and more beautiful house!

In this light, it will be rather unwise to shift into a temporary shelter and unpack everything as if we were going to stay in that house permanently. Likewise, it is also unwise to shift into a permanent house and leave most things in the boxes and live that way for the many years to come. We have to give due importance to matters according to their levels of permanency. If our relationship with God is the one everlasting relationship, then shouldn't we give it far greater attention and energy than all our other relationships that are not eternal? Is there a point in labouring hard for all that ends with death and neglect the part of our lives that awaits us beyond this death?

We must, therefore, see and perceive all relationships in the light of the one eternal relationship. All temporal relationships have their share of pains and hurts. But in the light of the one eternal relationship, we can more readily accept that these pains and hurts and temporal no matter how intense they may be; they will pass us by and life will go on. And even if we are plagued by these sufferings throughout our lives, we can know for sure that they will end when we die for they are not eternal. Thus, there is no point in being too overwhelmed by all the emotions of pain, suffering and hurts. Instead, keep our focus always and only on the one eternal relationship with God, find means to deepen our understanding of Him so that our faith in Him may increase alongside with our love for Him, knowing that He is our one, true and final goal. If we are able to accept this, then the inevitable question we will ask is "So, how do we build this eternal relationship?" (to be continued...)

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Sunday, 6 March 2011

When the World says "It's not good enough"

Only in Your eyes, my Lord,
Only there are we good enough;
Not because of our own merits
But only because of Your great mercy.

The deeds we do with sincere love,
Yet these are scrutinised by men;
Only You can see what is in our hearts,
Judge us not if we should fail.

To You we run for comfort and strength,
In You we rest from discontent.
Open our hearts to forgive and love,
Understand, excuse and seek Your peace.

Lord of infinite love and goodness,
Scatter our insecurities.
Grant us always, faith and hope,
Courage to overcome all doubts.

Feed us with Your nourishments,
Renewed to love as You command,
Refreshed to walk the extra mile, 
Affirmed we do Your most Holy Will.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Friday, 4 March 2011

Weaving between God & Me

I'd like to share this. Fr Philip Heng, SJ shared this poem in his homily on 23 January 2011. I pray that God will use it to touch even more hearts just as He has to mine.

My life is but a weaving
          between God and me;
I may not choose the colours,
          He knows what they should be;
For He can view the pattern 
          from the upper side
While I can see it only
          on this the under side.

Sometimes He weaves sorrow 
          which seems strange to me;
But, I will trust His judgment,
          and work and walk on faithfully;
It is He who fills the shuttle,
          He knows what is best;
So I shall weave in earnest 
          and leave with Him the rest.

At last when life is ended,
          with Him I shall abide,
Then I may view the pattern
          upon the upper side;
Then I shall know the reason 
          why pain with joy entwined
was woven in the fabric 
          of life that God designed.

The only words needed then is:
          Father, Your Will be done.
Nothing more, Nothing less.

Nothing else. Amen.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Light in the Tunnel

In the darkest tunnel
Where all is pitched black
The exit nowhere to be seen
Nowhere to be known
Alone in the silence
Dangers lurking all around
Pits in the ground waiting to trip us
Weakened by fear
Shaken by doubts
Beaten by disappointments
We retreat to the tunnel's side
There, we curl up in complete disability 
Only One Light
He, the Light, once lit, dispels all darkness
Reveals the path ahead, pits and dangers
Reinstates confidence
Courage surges
Fear scatters
Hope enkindles
Blood once frozen in fear flows once again
Giving life to the body to move ahead
This Light must be lit, deliberately
A decision to trust and believe
Without reservations or hesitation
That even in the darkness
He can be our Guide
Our Light
Our Way
Our Strength
Our Comfort
Our Hope
Our Help
Our Leader
The Captain of my life
And He says, "Stand up
Come out of your hiding place
See, you are not alone; I am here and I am He
Now and always, I will lead you and cover you with my protection
Nothing can harm you; I am here with my crook and staff
With these I comfort and assure you
So stand up
Take my hand, hold on to me
And be strong
Come, be enveloped in my love
And walk with me to the finish line."
Lord, we offer these humble words to you. You need not these words to affirm Your greatness and goodness. Yet, You have given these words for it is us who need them to remind ourselves of who You truly are, so that we may be renewed in strength and faith to walk on with You. Strengthen us and fill us with Your Spirit to continuously choose to light the fire of faith in You. Thank You for Your love and grace.

Wednesday 2 March 2011