Monday, 26 August 2013

The Narrow Door

Yesterday's noon Mass was presided by Jesuit Father Mark Raper. One of the things he said that caught my attention was that the narrow door that Jesus speaks about in the Gospel is none other than Jesus Himself. Jesus is the door. The shape of the door is the shape of Jesus. To enter through the narrow door, we need to see this door and conform our lives to the shape of this door.

People often remark that when married couples spend many years living together, they begin to look like each other more and more... after 20, 40, even 60 years. I believe they mean more than a physical resemblance of their looks. Mannerisms, characters... will grow to be more similar, if they allow the other to shape their lives. Looking, somehow, leads one to mimic. Subconsciously. 

Everyday, if we look at Jesus, in the Gospels, in the faces of the poor and suffering, in the faces of the happy and simple, the humble and meek, if we look at Him on the crucifix... If we look at Jesus everyday, throughout each day, if we allow Him to shape our lives, if we allow ourselves to be conformed to Him, to change to be like Him, there is no doubt - absolutely none - that we will grow to become more and more like Him. In compassion, in love, in forgiveness, humility, generosity... We will grow and find life in Christ. And this is truly what it means to live, to choose life and not death. To live in goodness. To live a wholesome and fulfilling life. 

The challenge and the question is thus... To keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus means to give up looking at other more attractive, more pleasurable, more exciting things (or people). It is to say 'no' to distractions and be single-minded about the real focus of our lives. It is a decision we have to make and a decision we have to renew each day, each moment. Are we willing to draw back all our attention from all our distractions and channel them unto God? To shape our lives not to any other doors or objects or people but precisely to the shape of Jesus? 

Today, I hope you join me in praying and asking God for this grace - to be focused and single-minded about God. And in all our temptations, may we always turn to Mary and say, "Mary, help us. Let us never lose our God. Amen."

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Magis City Tour - Safe to Be?

In the Magis experience in Salvador, a city tour made on foot was one of the items on the itinerary. Without much knowledge about the city or the nature of the city tour, we set out. We formed a long chain of pilgrims, cheering, singing and talking along the way. It was a tremendously long walk, in which I felt most prominently a very strong sense of security. 

In Singapore, where people say it is a very safe country in relation to other countries and cities, I do not have to think much about safety when I am out. Safety becomes very easily taken for granted. 

But during the city tour, there were military police lined up along the roads and who escorted us all the way. My awareness of safety was heightened and I really felt safe. I felt an appreciation of the city's efforts to step up their security so that I, along with other pilgrims, could walk with ease. 

Where was God in the walk? 

I was reminded of the day's Mass reading which affirms us that every strand of hair on our heads are counted. Nothing can happen to us without our Father's knowledge and approval. In the first reading, Joseph admitted that although his brothers meant to harm him deliberately, God meant good for him when He allowed the harm to happen to Joseph. 

Even when we are suffering, harmed or under threat, we are still in the safety of our Father's embrace. Ill for us is God's instrument to somehow facilitate good in our lives. In the reality of life's obstacles, it is hard to believe this. Not unless we know in our hearts this Father we have. Who is He? What is His personality? 

If having military police along my journey could make me feel so safe and protected, that even if someone were to try to harm me, these policemen will rush to defend and rescue me, then how much more secure than human policemen is my Father's embrace...!! There, where I will always be safe and protected in His mighty arms, I can rest secured that even in the downs of life, there is beauty and good. And even without understanding, I can be without fear and anxiety, doubt and despair. I can be free. No longer will I be afraid of rejection and abandonment, unfair treatments and hurts. Because I am at home; home in my Father's arms. 

Where are you living from?
Within or outside of our Father's embrace?