Saturday, 30 July 2011

Granting Our Desires

Today, a question was posed, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of our desires has God granted?"

While pondering upon this question, perhaps we could also ask ourselves what are our desires? What really, beyond all the superficial priorities in life, do we truly want for ourselves? Are we contented with what we have at the present moment or is there more we want? I think it brings us also to the question of what we can live without and what we cannot live without, what are our wants and what are our needs. What, then, are our real desires; desires that are, more often than not, hidden beyond our sight by the thick layers of societal influences that cause us distortions and distractions from the reality that lies at the deepest core of our hearts?

How often do we hear of people or even ourselves grumbling of a God who does not seem to care, a God who failed us, a God who does not answer when we call out to Him? We rate his "responsiveness" to our desires presented to Him on our wish-list as a 3 or 4 or even 1. Then, perhaps, we may like to consider, like mentioned above, what really are the things we ask God for because if He does not seem to be granting our desires, it would mean that our desires are not aligned to His. Where, then, are our hearts? Are they set in the right place so that our desires are one with His?

If we ask for a promotion or good grades for the exam, perhaps we may not get it. When did Jesus, in all His teachings, placed any importance to climbing up the corporate ladder and scoring well for the exams? If we ask for a smooth-sailing life, for an illness to be cured or for a period of hardship taken away from us, perhaps we may not get these that we want. When did Jesus, in all that He taught, revealed that a good life is one without pain and sufferings? If it was so, then Jesus must have lived a terribly bad life since His was a life of sufferings and selfless sacrifices.

But if we were to ask for the grace to forgive someone who hurt us deeply, will He not give? If we were to ask for the grace to love Him more deeply each day, to be more Christ-like in our dealings with others, will He not give? If we ask that in all we do each day, may God's Will be done and for His greater glory, will He not give? If we ask for the strength and trust to carry our daily crosses of hardships, struggles and sufferings, will He ignore? If we ask for the things that truly matter in God's eyes and make these our own desires, we can be sure that our "rating" for God's "responsiveness" to our desires will increase to a 9 or 10.

Jesus told us to seek first the Kingdom of God and all these other things will be given to us. God will, undoubtedly, grant our hearts' desires, if and only if our hearts are first set on Him. And before this can happen, we need wisdom, which is another grace to ask God for if this is what our heart truly desires. The ultimate fulfilment in life comes from living in union with God's Will for us, that which entails making His desires our own. God wants to give us the best and it is also in this "best" that He wants us to mature in our relationship with Him so that we may come to discover His will, His ways and be one with Him.

Do we have the courage to renounce the comfortable way of living we have long been accustomed to? Do we have the humility, wisdom and courage to acknowledge the we are not "right" all the time and then seek what God wants us to seek? What we think are essential in life may not be essential at all in God's eyes. Are we willing to accept and ponder on this possibility? Let us pray that God will grant us the wisdom and courage to question our own perceptions, beliefs and desires for the purpose of verification of how aligned they are to what God is really asking of us today. Let us also pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance.

30 July 2011, Saturday
11.33pm

Friday, 29 July 2011

A Discerning Life

For today's morning devotion @ Assembly




A group of fishermen took their fishing boat out to sea and when they had arrived at a far distance from shore, they cast their net into the deep ocean. The net gathered within its width many species of fishes. When it was filled, the fishermen drew the net up on board their boat. It was so heavy that the net almost broke apart! As the crew captain steered the boat back to shore, the other fishermen started to sort out their day’s catch. They emptied the net of fishes onto the floor board and began to sieve through the many fishes. Those that were of good sizes, they chose and kept them in a huge freezer, preserved until they can ship them to the market to sell at a high price. Those that were too small, they threw back into the sea. Those fishes that were unpopular and unwanted, they threw back into the sea for it would have been useless for them to keep these that people do not want to buy and will not bring in any income for these fishermen.

This story of the fishermen gives us a good lesson today of how we too need to live a discerning life. To live a discerning life means to live each day not as a matter of chance, of going through the motion of each day, taking everything as it comes. No. If sailors were to steer their ships in the same way as we leave our lives to a matter of chance and coincidence, no ship in this world will ever arrive at its planned destination. Living a discerning life, therefore, means that we have to be constantly making decisions every day. Decisions of how we want to behave, what we want to say, how we should say what we want to say, what we do to others, are just some of the more significant decisions we have to make each day. In addition, we are faced with many influences affecting us daily. At school, as a student, you are faced with simple but real decisions of whether or not to do your homework. You see a classmate copying his homework from another friend and you are tempted to follow because it is so easy to be lazy and not do your work. But, like the fishermen who choose the good from the bad fishes, you must also choose what is good and what is bad for you, deciding always to keep the good influences and throw out the bad. In this way, you can be sure that you are accumulating good values and treasures for your own life, and grow up to be a good person.

At school, as teachers, we make decisions each day too, perhaps, far more than our young pupils make daily. For example, we may find ourselves faced with a class of pupils who are very ill-disciplined and ill-behaved. On certain days, we find ourselves so tired and drained out from the work we do that does not ever seem to have any end. How do we bridge our responsibilities as teachers? We have to decide what is good and what is bad. We have to see that despite our tiredness, we are responsible to our pupils and with this, to choose to teach them good values.

Fishermen, as lowly educated as they may seem to us, know fully well the importance of picking and choosing their fishes. They know how to pick their fishes. As educated individuals, do we know how to balance our intelligence and character? So that our intelligence is not faring better than our characters because then, we are at risk of using our intelligence to bring harm to others. Do we see the need to make decisions of how we should live our lives? Are we wise enough to see and recognize the long term benefits of leading a discerning life? Let us ponder on these questions today. 

29 July 2011, Friday
9.13am

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

God Comes to Us

Yesterday's first reading tells us about Moses going to meet God in a Tent he pitched. There, God came to him in a pillar of cloud. The passage reads...

Exodus 33:7-10
Moses used to take the Tent and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who had to consult Yahweh would go out to the Tent of Meeting, outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the Tent, all the people would rise. Every man would stand at the door of his tent and watch Moses until he reached the Tent; the pillar of cloud would come down and station itself at the entrance to the Tent, and Yahweh would speak with Moses.

The book of Exodus tells the happenings before Jesus came into our world. And in this short passage, we can realise that as the "pillar of cloud would come down and station itself at the entrance to the Tent" in the early days, so then did God Himself come down and stationed Himself in our world through the Person of Jesus, fully Human and fully God. In a society that is growing in intelligence, affluence and self-dependency, God is well aware of our need for a more concrete prove of His existence and infinite love for us. Our faith is increasingly challenged by the many fruitless analysis of circumstances and the need for logical explanations in the quest of being in control of our lives and beliefs. Yet, our infinitely patient God knows that left to our own strength, we can never ascend to Him. And as such, recognising and empathizing with the reality of who we are, He comes to us and this time, not as a pillar of cloud but as a human person Himself, real and fully present for others to witness. He let Himself be seen and revealed, thus, showing us the way back to our Father in the most explicit manner, made public for all those who lived in His earthly time.

We, the people belonging to the current generation, do not have the physical presence of Jesus in Person among us. However, God continues to come to us, to make Himself available for us readily, and to be stationed, this time, at the door of our hearts, knocking persistently until we finally open these doors to allow Him in. He stations Himself within our hearts permanently and unconditionally. He comes to us in the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Reconciliation, the former, allowing us to be renewed, nourished and strengthened by His own Body and Blood, and the latter, allowing also the graces of repentance, mercy and love, which make us whole again in the renewed desire to walk more fully in His ways.

It was God who came to the Israelites at the time of Moses;
It was God who came to the Jews by being born into the world;
And certainly, it is still this same God who comes to us today in many forms.

Moses went to the Tent to meet God, to consult Him, to communicate with Him and in so doing, was engaged with God in a mutual relationship of love. Do we, like Moses, go, pro-actively, to meet God in the Eucharist, in the Blessed Sacrament and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? How frequently do we do so?  Let us take time to reflect and ask ourselves how God has come to us. Let us also learn the discipline of going to our place of meeting to meet Him personally, as frequently as we can. We pray for the graces to desire to meet God daily and to thank and praise Him for His initiative in coming to us and being so accessible to us.

Wednesday 27 July 2011
1.47am

Friday, 22 July 2011

Our Help Comes from the Lord

In moments when we strive very hard to do good but fail,
In moments when we try to pray but our minds and hearts are a blank,
In moments when we set aside a fair bit of time in silence to listen to God, who chooses instead to remain silent,
In moments when we have done all that we can possibly do in the moment to find God in and around us but He is nowhere to be found and felt,
We will come to the realisation of who we really are in the light of His truth - nothing; our actions and our abilities do not meet the expectations of who we want to be, despite the great effort we put in to being a better disciple.

We may begin to really question if we were ever capable of anything good at all if not for God who blesses us and gives us everything that we need continuously. When we have realised and acknowledge our true nothingness, we can then accept the reality that we really must and can only rely on God to provide for our every need. I would like to believe that God allows us to fall short at times so that we get in touch once again with the truth of our humanity so as to ascend to grasp His Divinity, drawing from Him every grace and blessing, relying on Him for everything we need and being in an unending gratitude for all that we have been given.

It is in moments whereby we are so lacking that we appreciate more fully the moments of fullness, and beg with all our hearts for the help we so need. And so, this prayer...

Dear God,

The desire we have in our hearts for you is in itself Your grace, poured upon us so generously, for without which, You know that sinful as we are, we would rather depart farther from You.

The time we set aside for you in prayer is in itself Your gift to us because You know how much we need for our daily challenges and You know that You alone are our source of life. You are fully aware, knowing all that are in our unwise hearts, that without this gift, we would instead waste away time on worthless engagements.

The decision we make to connect with You in prayer is in itself Your grace to us for without this grace, we will surely get lost in the rigour of each day, leaving behind our relationship with You in the trails of our tiredness and the lack of time.

The words that we use to form our dialogues with You are in themselves Your gift to us, without which, our minds and hearts will be completely immobilized to verbalise.

The zeal, sincerity and authenticity that we feel towards You are in themselves Your graces injected into our hearts. You know the mask we hide behind and the falsehood well-camouflaged in the distorted truths. How else, if not for Your graces, can we come before You as we truly are? How else, if not for Your assistance, can we ever be wise enough to put You before all else?

Lord, You have given us the bridge that fills the gap that otherwise keeps us apart. Remove these graces and blessings and this bridge will be broken, and we will thus be reduced once again into a lifeless nothing. Without these Your gifts, how can we ever look upon You as anything more than an abstract concept that has no relevance to our current living? From where, then, shall we find the meaning to our living?

So, Lord, do not deprive us of all we need but give us always the graces to desire for You more intensely, to love You more faithfully, to know You more intimately, to serve You more humbly, and to do Your Holy Will more obediently. Amen.

22 July 2011, Friday
12.34am

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Warfares

http://christtotheworld.blogspot.com/


88. 2. Because the devilswho are skilful thieves, wish to surprise us unawares, and to strip us. They watch day and night for the favourable moment. For that end they go around about us incessantly to devour us and to snatch from us in one moment, by a sin, all the graces and merits we have gained for many years. Their malice, their experience, their strategems and their number ought to make us fear this misfortune immensely, especially when we see how many persons fuller of grace than we are, richer in virtues, better founded in experience and far higher exalted in sanctity, have been surprised, robbed and unhappily pillaged. Ah!

How many cedars of Lebanon, how many stars of the firmament, have we not seen fall miserably, and in the twinkling of an eye lose all their height and their brightness! Whence comes that sad and curios change? It was not for want of grace which is wanting to no man; but is was for want of humility. They thought themselves capable of guarding their own treasures. They trusted in themselves, relied upon themselves. They thought their house secure enough, and their coffers strong enough, to keep the precious treasure of grace.

It is because of that scarcely perceptible reliance upon themselves, though all the while it seemed to them that they were relying only on the grace of God, that the most just Lord permitted them to be robbed by leaving them to themselves. Alas!

If they had but known the admirable devotion which I shall unfold presently, they would have confided their treasure to a Virgin powerful and faithful, who would have kept it for them as if it had been her own possession; nay, who would have even taken it as an obligation of justice on herself to preserve it for them. 




Saturday, 16 July 2011

Mustard Seed - Potential Good in Every Person


This weekend's gospel reading tells about one of the many parables that Jesus used to teach the Jewish people - the mustard seed, smallest seed of all, that sprouts out and grows into the largest shrub, and becomes shelter for birds and animals. But what relevance to our lives has this parable of the mustard seed?

Indeed, each and every one of us is a mustard seed; each has, stored within, a vast amount of potential to become the largest shrub. But while it is easy to think of ourselves as this seed with such potential, it is an almost impossible feat to think the same way of another person so filled with flaws that irritate the life out of us. When all we see is the person's negatives and we try in vain to identify any good in that person, how can we believe that he is capable of any good, let alone to become this "largest shrub", that he can be of any good to any other person?

First and foremost, let not our pride blind our eyes from recognising how we, too, have lived very unworthy lives and perhaps, to others, we are also one of those whose flaws seem to overshadow all our good and potential good. If we are of any good now, was it not because of the graces of God, His guiding hands, that have brought us thus far?

Perhaps, like myself, many others have experienced God's personal and infinite love that called us out of our sinful living into Christian holiness, that which entails the continuous and conscientious struggle against sin. And even in this struggle, how numerous are the times we fall!! If God can break through the thick and hardened walls of our hearts, why can't He reach into the hearts of others too? If He can melt down our hearts and let His love anchor our lives in Him, then surely, He can do the same for those others we categorise as "beyond hope". Are we better than these who are "beyond hope"? Possibly, many of us might put ourselves up for comparison and come to the conclusion that we truly aren't as bad. Even so, we need to come in humility to acknowledge, as St Pio honestly put it, that we, without God, are capable of only one thing - sin. We are as we may think "not-so-sinful" solely because God has given us extra blessings and graces to keep our hearts on the right path. And I would like to think that God does not show favouritism and that these blessings and graces are precisely given to us for His mission - to bring others back to Him, just as He has brought us to Himself.

Partaking actively in this mission of God is a completely challenging responsibility and commitment but this is what we are called to do as His disciples, His hands, feet, and mouth, His ministers and representatives. If we dare not challenge ourselves to help others in their journey back to God, how can we dare to kneel before Him to ask for His guidance and protection for our own selves, and how can we stand before Him to continually receive His blessings and graces, that which we refuse to extend to others?

When we next meet someone who is difficult, someone who seems so impossible of anything good, let us remind ourselves that this person can also be transformed by God. He has the potential that we ourselves have, of doing good, of being good, potential that God can unleash and use for His greater glory. Let us be patient and be compassionate in praying that God will touch this person's heart so that he too may become the largest shrub, providing a source of comfort and strength for others. Let us also pray that we too may open our hearts so that God may enter to do the same to the mustard seed in us. Amen.

Saturday, 16 July 2011
11.05pm

Jesus - A Man of Prayer


Jesus – A Man of Prayer

Jesus was different. He did not flow with the tide of the people; with the current thinking of the times. He had his own thinking to give to the people - that's why Jesus was different. He got all those insights from the Father. The gospels present to us Jesus as a man in prayer. In Luke Chapter 11, Jesus was in prayer and the disciples were waiting outside. After Jesus had finished his prayer, they asked Him, "Master, teach us to pray." St. Augustine becomes eloquent when he interprets this passage and he says the only thing the disciples wanted to do as the Master did was prayer. Jesus was doing great things in the presence of the disciples. He calmed the sea; he fed 7000 people with just 7 loaves of bread; he healed lepers. But not once did the disciples want to do anything as Jesus did. The only thing they wanted to learn was to pray as Jesus did! Why? For the disciples, Jesus was first and foremost a man of prayer - His life and his teachings flowed out of prayer.

It is written in the gospel of Mark Chapter 2 -"the whole night Jesus prayed and when he came down from the mountain, he chose the Twelve Apostles." In the gospel of Luke Chapter 5, Jesus healed a leper and the leper went about all over the place shouting, "I 'm healed and Jesus healed me!" The name and fame of Jesus increased - his popularity spread everywhere. Yet in the next sentence- "Jesus retired to a lonely place to pray." In Luke Chapter 12, Jesus healed a man with a withered arm on the Sabbath and the Pharisees found fault with him. "How can Jesus heal on the Sabbath?" and they were plotting against him, planning to kill him. Jesus knew this - and the next sentence - "He retired to a lonely place to pray." The pain of misunderstanding - he went to the Father to share everything with Him.

In moments of decisions, in the moments of popularity, in the moments of sadness and misunderstanding, at all moments in his life, what Jesus did was to retire to a lonely place to pray. The one picture of Jesus that loomed large in the mind of the Holy Father was - of Jesus in prayer. He was a great man of prayer. We have seen beautiful pictures of the Holy Father with the rosary in hand praying, concentrated in prayer. In prayer, he got everything from God and he decided everything in the light of prayer.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Union with God's Will

The birds, the plants... they are fellow creatures on our shared planet. They live in the perfect union of God's Will; they live the perfect fulfilment of the purposes God set out for them. Perhaps, they do so because unlike humans, animals and plants do not have a mind that analyses nor do they have the freedom of choice since they live by their instincts. But these simplest, voiceless creatures can be very good teachers for us, humans, the apparent superior beings.

Animals go to wherever there is food; they move along according to the Providence of God in supplying the satisfaction to their hunger. Watch the birds circling in the sky; how carefree they are because they recognise who God is; they rely on God for everything they need. If God should stop providing for them, they submit themselves to death without uttering a single word of protest or complain. Observe the trees; how they take shape. Its leaves do what they are meant to - make food for the plant. Its roots play its allotted role - taking in water, holding the plant firmly to the ground. It grows wherever it is planted, and no matter what the environment, it fights for survival like a worthy warrior, braving all harsh conditions that stand in its way. The creatures in the sky do not attempt to live in the ocean; the creatures in the ocean do not try to be like those on land. In all these and more, these humble creatures seem to be perfectly united with God in their Creator-Creature relationship, each living out the fulfilment of what it was fundamental meant for.

The question that may strike us by now is "What about us?" We, too, are creatures of the same God. Yet, are we living in the union of Christ's friendship and of our Father's Will? Are we trying to hold tight onto our lives, to control it and every event and experience that we have? Do we try to shape our lives in a certain way according to what we want? Where is God in our lives? How present is He in our day? Who and what is the "god" in our lives - the real God or ourselves, our desires, dreams and personal agendas and goals? Do we "go according" to God's plan or do we try to carve out our own path of life? Do we play the role that God set out for us in our unique lives on earth? Are we in union with God?

12 July 2011, Tuesday
11.30pm

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Prayer - A Check of the Compass

Taken from the Ignatian Spirituality.com

Direction

A ship may be tossed on the seas, buffeted by storms of every sort.  Its crew may be struggling mightily every day simply to keep it afloat, wearying themselves, becoming chilled to the bone.  They may fear for their lives every day, and regret ever having set sail with the hopes of adventure and fame and wealth.  There may be days when the supplies are running low when they fear starvation.  Perhaps every now and again there may be a sunny day, with calm seas, when all is well in the world.  The crew may find a moment of rest, such that they might gain some strength to again face the rigors of the voyage.
Prayer is like checking the compass every day to insure that the ship reaches its destination.  It is the hope that comes from this knowledge which sustains the crew, so that they understand that none of the trials of their voyage are in vain.

Hope Amidst Despair

From "Purgatory" by Fr. F. X. Schouppe, S.J.
Chapter 47


The following is related a a fact by the AbbĂ© Postel, the translator of F. Rossignoli's work. It took place in Paris, he says, about the year 1827, and is inserted as No. 27 in the Merveilles du Purgatorire.

A poor servant, who had been brought up as a good Christian in her native village, had adopted the pious practice of having a Mass said every month for the suffering souls. Her employers, having taken her with them to the capital, she never once neglected in, and furthermore made it her rule to assist at the Divine Sacrifice, and to unite her prayers with those of the priest, especially for the soul that had most nearly completed its expiation. This was her ordinary intention.

God soon tried her by a long illness, that not only occasioned her cruel suffering, but also caused her to lose her place and draw upon her last resources. On the day that she was able to leave the hospital, she had but twenty sous left. After addressing a fervent prayer to Heaven, full of confidence, she went in search of a situation. She was told that she would probably find employment in a certain family at the other end of the city, whither she went, and as she was obliged to pass by the Church of St. Eustache, she entered. The sight of a priest at the altar reminded her that this month she had forgotten her usual Mass for the dead, and that this was the very day upon which, for many years, she had been accustomed to do this good work. But what was she to do? If she disposed of her last franc, she would have nothing left, even to satisfy her hunger. It was a struggle between devotion and human prudence. Devotion gained the day. "after all," she said to herself, "the good God knows it is for Him, and he will not forsake me!" Entering the sacristy, she gave her offering for a Mass, at which she assisted with her usual fervour.

A few moments after, she continued on her way, full of anxiety as may be readily understood. Being absolutely destitute of means, what was she to do if she failed to obtain employment? She was still occupied with these thoughts when a pale young man of a slight figure and distinguished appearance approached her and said, "Are you in search of a situation?" "Yes, sir." "Well, go to a certain street and number, to the house of Madam ______. I think you will suit her and that you will be satisfied there." Having spoken these words, he disappeared in the passing crowd, without waiting to receive the poor girl's thanks.

She found the street, recognised the number, and ascended to the apartments. A servant came out carrying a package under her arm and uttering words of complaint and anger. "Is Madame there?" asked the newcomer. "She may or may not be," replied the other. "What does it matter to me? Madame will open the door herself if it suits her; I will trouble myself no longer about it. Adieu!" And she descended the steps.

Our poor girl rang the bell with trembling hand, and a sweet voice bade her to enter. She found herself in the presence of an old lady of venerable appearance, who encouraged her to make known her wishes.

"Madame," said the servant, "I learned this morning that you are in need of a servant, and I came to offer my services. I was assured that you would receive me kindly." "Oh, but, my dear child, what you tell me is very extraordinary. This morning I had no need of one; it is only within the last half-hour that I have discharged an insolent domestic, and there is not a soul in the world except her and myself who know it. Who sent you, then?" "It was a gentleman, Madame; a young gentleman whom i met on the street, who stopped me for this purpose, and I praised God for it, for it is absolutely necessary for me to find a place today; I have not a penny in my pocket."

The old lady could not understand who the person was, and was lost in conjecture, when the servant raising her eyes to the furniture of the little parlor, perceived a portrait. "Wait, Madame," she said immediately, "do not puzzle yourself any more; this is the exact picture of the young man who spoke to me. It is on his account that I am come."

At these words the lady uttered a loud cry and seemed to lose consciousness. She made the girl repeat the story of her devotion to the souls in Purgatory, of the morning Mass, and her meeting with the stranger; then throwing herself on the neck of the girl, she embraced her amid a flood of tears and said, "You shall not be my servant from this moment; you are my daughter. It is my son, my only son, whom you saw - my son, dead for the past two years, who owes to you his deliverance, whom God directed to send you here. I cannot doubt it. May you, then, be blessed, and let us pray continually for all those who suffer before entering into a blessed eternity."


_______________________________________________________


This account shows us directly the good we are doing when we pray for the dead, those holy souls expiating their sins and impurities in Purgatory before they enter into the radiant glory of God. Yet, this account also points out to us the faith of the poor servant.

Indeed, how many of us, found in the same desperate situation as the servant, would look upon our lives with a gloomy despair? When an illness removes our capacity to work and earn our keep, when starvation threatens our lives, how many of us will find ourselves being somewhat angry at God, or doubting that He ever listened to our prayers? Yet, this servant, gave up her last penny to remain faithful to her devotion to pray for the dead, placing all her trust in the God, whom she knew would never abandon her.

Let us take this servant as our example, in remaining faithful to our God no matter what desperate, hopeless and painful situations we find ourselves in. Let us pray that God will increase our trust in Him, that in the most trying moments, we may deny our fears and lack of understandings, and place our lives into the hands of our Almighty Father.


10 July 2011, Sunday
11.18am

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

God's "Hideouts"

From where can I find the peace I had let go of since I remain submerged in the clutter of worries and anxieties?
From where can I find the strength to love as You love since I let resentment and frustration seep back inside?
From where can I find hope to see the end of what I do since all I see is the hopelessness and helplessness I fix my gazes on?
From where can I find the compassion to build relationships since my day is operated by the engagement of my mind in an endless stream of tasks?
From where can I find the courage to stand before You with the account of my day since I have lived it through, void of imitating Your first love that overpowered me?
From where can I find the beauty in this one more day of struggling to be more like You since I have placed, above You, the goal of perfection that feeds only my ego and insecurities?

Dear Lord,
If it is not in You, with You and through You that I find peace, strength, hope, compassion, courage  and beauty, then where else can I go to search for these? Is there another source of the goodness that springs forth only from the perfection of Your love and the fullness of Your union with the Father, a relationship so pure and sacred to beget the Holy Spirit who pours out these gifts of goodness to anyone He chooses?

And yet, despite the worries, anxieties, resentment, frustration, hopelessness, helplessness, struggles and disappointments, I found You in the exact place that forbids the entry of these useless emotions of a day deemed wasted, in the exact form You had left behind of Yourself for all Man at the last supper. I found You in the Eucharist, which, upon my tongue, silenced the turmoil in my heart and opened its valves to the joy and peace I recognised with nostalgia and gratitude. I found You in the silence that builds upon silence. I found You in the humblest and simplest silence that needs no glory of words but yet, has power to speak what words fail to say. This silence that awaits my attention and connects me with You, this silence that is an outcast, victimised by distortions, distractions and unwise decisions.

May we always remember God's favourite "hiding places" and there, we will always find Him all ready for us.

06 July 2011, Wednesday
12.49am

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Woman at the Well - God's "Living Water"

John 4:7-10
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink". His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, "What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?" - Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied: 


"If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink, 
you would have been the one to ask, 
and he would have given you living water".


How often do we find ourselves and others rejecting an invitation to participate in a church event, to attend a prayer meet or to join a parish community or ministry? Some of us, when we hear that it is church-related, will not even give it a thought before conveniently brushing aside the idea. Some others avoid totally any conversations that revolve around God and the truth about life. It is as if talking about God is taboo, as if giving our time and energy to God-related activities is going to drain us out of our lives; a chore, and an invasion of our lifestyles, our space and our need to use our time for "other better things to do". It seems as if it is going to put us at the losing end.

For those of us who are found with this mindset at any point in our lives, I would like to think that it is not because we are deliberately stingy with our lives but rather, it is a matter of a lacking awareness of the Truth. If we had known and had seen the Truth, we will very naturally take on a whole new meaning towards our participation in and around the parish and towards our commitment to our spiritual growth. Needless to say, God will no longer be a taboo but instead, talking about Him will be the only time our eyes light up and sparkle with enthusiasm. But what is this Truth?

This Truth is what Jesus was trying to reveal to the Samaritan woman at the well. This Truth is about who God truly is; it is about who we truly are before God and with these, it is about our true relationship with God.

When we see the Truth of who God really is, who Jesus is;
When our hearts recognise the deep joy, peace and fulfilment that only God can give;
When we know the reality of our nothingness, that our lives are instantly snuffed out when the Master decides so, and that we cannot live, not even for a brief moment, without the breath that God gives to us;
When we know the reality of our true dependency on God for everything we need and recognise that we owe it to Him for everything we have;
When we know the consolation of His love and mercy, His generosity and kindness;
When we know the indescribable ecstasy of God's intimacy with us;
When we accept in honesty all that God is and all these and more that He is offering to us;
When we realise just how much God loves us even in our sinfulness,

WE will be the ones begging Him for every opportunity to know Him more intimately, to love Him more deeply and to follow Him more closely;
WE will be the ones going to Him and asking Him for peace, joy, direction, fulfilment, for the "living water" that assures us LIFE, meaning, hope, love, strength, courage;
WE will be the ones asking "What more can I do", "How else can I contribute";
WE will be the ones looking for parish events to participate in.

All these because we will know that our only source of nourishment, fulfilment, peace, happiness, meaning is in God alone. Only He can quench our thirst with His "living water" that brings us to seek the treasures of heaven, making our lives complete. We will no longer be found wanting of anything of this earth because we can differentiate what is eternal and what is temporal. "Giving" of our lives will no longer be met with resistance but with joy and generosity because we will know that it is in giving that we receive; we are not at the losing end but we stand to gain treasures that money cannot buy.

However, before we can know of this Truth, before we can go to God to ask Him for this "living water", we need to go back to the foundations - prayer, in which we will come to a deeper understanding of who God truly is, who we truly are before God, and our true relationship with Him. We need to build up a personal relationship with God, spending time daily communicating with Him, reflecting and meditating on the scriptures that reveal Him to us. And as Jesus promised, "... he would have given you living water", God will willingly give us all that He has offered to us - the spring that wells up into eternal life (Jn 4:14).

03 July 2011, Sunday
11.29pm