Mt28:16-20 [Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity]

3rd June, 2012 Readings: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

All good things happen in threes, so the saying goes. And since it is Holy Trinity Sunday, after all, we’ll do things in threes too (no pun intended there). So three points to draw from this week’s readings:
(1) We are triune beings;
(2) Jesus is always with us; and
(3) We have power.

We are Triune beings.

If we are made in God’s image, then it only makes sense that our lives should also reflect the fundamental theologies of the Trinity. It is perhaps no coincidence then that we are composed of (1) mind, (2) body and (3) spirit. Or that Aquinas’s model of the soul consists of (1) memory, (2) intellect and (3) will. Or that a marriage’s three parties are (1) yourself, (2) your spouse, and (3) God.

And we can go on finding more triumvirates in our lives. But three examples suffice to illustrate the point: just as we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, so must our lives reflect God’s Triune nature.

What this means is that our lives will have different parts, but we must always strive for unity, communion and integration.

Our lives are never going to be simple. It will be comprised of different aspects, divided into different segments, compartmentalized into different spheres. Our goal then, is to live in communion – with ourselves, with others and with God. We have to live integrated lives, with consistent principles and authentic values. Only then can we glimpse a unity with God that is called holiness.

But this is no easy feat. And hence Jesus tells us: He is always with us.

We are always going to doubt. We are always going to feel lonely. We are always going to feel frustrated. Just as the disciples did, even in His presence.

That is why Jesus’ words are so comforting. He says exactly what we need to hear in our desolation, our desperation, our despair. He tells us that He is there, with us. That we can walk our own roads to Calvary because He is helping us to carry our crosses. That in the end things will turn out fine because He will see us through to our resurrections.

We may not feel His presence, but He promises us anyway: He is there. And in the dark moments of our lives when our hearts grow heavy, we can hold on to this promise as a lifeline, whisper these words that He said to His disciples 2000 years ago to ourselves, listen to them as He says it to us now. We can then find the strength to allow His grace to work in His own time and His own way to save us from ourselves, our many struggles, our terrible circumstances.

Because we are not the victim of our lives. We are the beneficiaries of His death. We are the recipients of the power of His resurrection.

And thus, we have the power to build God’s kingdom.

To quote Mariamme Williamson, “it is not in some of us; it is in all of us.” Even the ones that doubted – Jesus sent them all out in the Great Commission. Because our power does not come from ourselves. Believing so was Adam’s sin.

Our power comes from the Spirit that dwells in us. It is Pentecostal power. It is the power – that St Paul talks about – to cry out “Abba, Father”. With that power, with that strength that we can draw on when the things of the world fail to satisfy, with that peace and fulfillment we can find in living authentic integrated lives, Jesus exhorts us to make disciples of all nations.

The Church has always declared herself to be missionary. The question then that we must ask ourselves is: are we?

– Mel

Jn20:19-23 [Pentecost Sunday]

So I’ve been allotted Pentecost Sunday sharing and you can’t really deviate much from the Holy Spirit and how the tongues of fire didn’t burn their hair came to rest on the head of each of them. This is really a coincidence because I did want to share about how I came to realise the difference between gifts (of the holy spirit) and talents but never got around to it, until now.

Remember right after I came back from Korea, I was determined to join Amplify’s worship team, partly because I said I would before I left, but more so because I really like singing, my voice really ain’t that bad (right?) and for the life of me, couldn’t understand why I never made it to the main worship team in sfx. I revere yall like how any sportsman in the school team revere the national team :/ And yet that plan fell through as well. The thought gradually faded but the occurrence during log retreat and a few revelations of the past made me come to a huge realisation: I had confused talent with gift.

I have a talent. I wish that sentence could sound a little less arrogant. Okay, I am of the impression that I have a talent. I like my talent and because of my parents’ stifling or failure to nurture it, I always felt I had to protect it and depend on myself to further it. So this is a talent; a natural ability that is already present at birth, an inclination, a skill that can be further cultivated to perfection in the right environment.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit however do not work the same way. Gifts are manifestations of the Holy Spirit within the person and does not need to, or cannot be nurtured. The whole range of gifts is inexhaustible and does not have proper categories. The most basic characteristic of the gifts I can conclude is that, they are used for the benefit of others (kingdom-building) and are hence given to individuals according to the needs of the church. For example, the tongues the apostles spoke could be understood by people of different races and languages because there was a great need at that time to cross the language barrier to be able to spread the good news. The charismatic gifts are also distinguished from the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiahan gifts) and the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are for personal sanctification.

My experience with gifts of the Holy Spirit is this: I could never predict or plan the moment when the Holy Spirit works through me. But when it does happen, I usually recognise and acknowledge it only on retrospect. And when I do recognise it, without being able to explain logically what or how it happened, there is no doubt that it was the work of the Spirit. There were also many instances, after discerning, that I realised an occurrence was not the work of the Spirit.

So I could go on forever about the Holy Spirit and its gifts. But the main message of my reflection is to draw the comparison between gift and talent, and to urge us to discover the gifts more accurately. Because too much focus on talent might justify the lack of attention we give to the gifts, and because the world desperately needs us to manifest love for healing and building God’s kingdom here on earth.

peace.

– von

Jn17:11-19 [7th Sunday of Easter]

She tumbled vaulted acrobatically through the air, a blur of shadows and smoke.

It did not notice. It couldn’t actually. Not when pain seared its flesh as one, two, and then three crossbow bolts struck the demon in its grotesque face. It bled red (what else do you expect, blue?) streams and then choked to death, gurgling on its own heated blood.

The Fallen had fallen, another prey to the Hunter who hunted. She turned-

OOPS. Sorry, totally forgot that this was supposed to be a reflection on Sunday’s Gospel passage and not Diablo 3 time. Haha. For the uninitiated, Diablo 3 is a game that 90% of guys are playing now, where we all take on online personas as demon slaying heroes to kill Diablo (the devil) himself, and to rid the world of evil. Yeah, that’s about it (: Needless to say I’ve been sucked in as well but duty in the real world calls!

I have never really enjoyed reading this part of John’s gospel since it goes back and forth quite a bit and repeats many words but I guess that’s his style and there must be some reason for doing so. Unfortunately, I am no bible scholar and I wouldn’t be able to help you out here (ask the nearest priest instead – I hear they are experts on such matters).

In summary, this Sunday’s Gospel is Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, before he undergoes his passion and death. He pleads with His Heavenly Father to “protect them from the evil one” – to take care of and sustain His disciples when Jesus is gone. Jesus, of all people, knows that we are inherently weak. Unlike the Demon Hunter in Diablo 3, we are the hunted, not the hunters. None of the man-made weapons (crossbows or not) can defeat the devil. None but Jesus. This is why Jesus tells His Father that “for their sake I consecrate myself”. We cannot defeat the devil and his lies, temptations and spiritual attacks without Jesus. Consecration means an association with the sacred (I checked wiki haha :p), and this is exactly what we do when we rely on Jesus and not on ourselves to fend off the devil.

I can’t say that I’ve been in the best of shape spiritually. Not after the long exam period where I was consumed with restlessness, anxiety and jadedness. Not after sin has bogged down my soul and weakened my intimacy with God. Not after the devil has succeeded in making me comfortable with where I am, at status quo. But today I decided to take that first step towards rebuilding this relationship, to re-embrace the sacred, to consecrate myself once again, by going for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To be honest, there wasn’t a choir of angels singing after I stepped out of the confessional. Nor was there an immeasurable sense of peace that engulfed me. Instead, it was a quiet knowing that I had taken the first step in a long journey towards once again being intimate with God. One in which I do not have to strain to hear his voice, or struggle against doing his will. I’m looking forward to better days already (:

It was quite apt that we (Mel and I) gave this 83-year-old man a lift back to Gardens (he just flagged us down at Novena Church without knowing that we were headed back there – Divine Providence indeed). And he shared with us the ‘5 most powerful spiritual weapons’ we have as Catholics: the Eucharist, the Holy Bible, the Rosary, our Guardian Angel, and our Saint. Personally, I would include the other Sacraments within the first ‘weapon’, as I experienced today.

As we approach Pentecost, let us take up our weapons and be true to God’s name… to be consecrated in the truth of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

The Demon Hunter requires ‘Hatred’ and ‘Discipline’ to make use of her skills to defeat her foes…

We require discipline, yes – to bite the bullet and continue to pray and receive the Sacraments when we feel dry and restless. But we do not require hatred. Rather, we require love.

Perhaps that is why Diablo never gets defeated once and for all (this is the third time we need to kill him already, it explains the ‘3’) – no one has fought him with Love. But we remember that Jesus Christ has conquered the devil through his sacrifice of love on the cross. Let us follow his example each day. Heroes, Warriors, Saints … perhaps we are not so far off from our online personas after all.  

– Soo

Jn15:9-17 [6th Sunday of Easter]

Hi all who have taken time to read this… HAHA.

I’m pretty raw in the aspect of writing or penning down reflections so please do bear with me. (-:

Upon reflecting on the Sunday gospel for this week, I think what particularly struck me was the verse, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9). Very often, I find myself taking God’s presence and his very gift of faith for granted.
In this state of mine, God becomes of a lesser importance and hence, falls below all of my seemingly important priorities. This verse served as a reminder of God’s great love for me, that no other things or beings can actually fill the intangible void in my heart: “These things I have spoke to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

The week has been a tumultuous week for me with the burdens of schoolwork and personal friendships that have been my cross to carry. These roller coaster feelings and emotions of mine have been just so hard to comprehend. Despite all these feelings of frustration, dryness and emptiness, I chose to be self-sufficient for that very few days. In my conscious mind, I knew that God was actually calling me to just spend some time with me, to just abide in his great and perfect love and in fact to surrender this cross of mine and humble my very being at the feet of the cross. However, I went against these soft promptings in my heart. All I ever wanted to do was just to incarcerate myself in this bubble. Thankfully, it came to a point where I just knew I had to return to him and desired to return to him.

After school on Tuesday, I went for adoration at Christ the King. The journey there was HORRENDOUS. Two buses passed the bus interchange without even stopping (URGH) and the traffic jam was simply distasteful. Although Christ the King was like really near near near near near my school, I think I took an estimated time of an hour to reach the church. During that dreadful hour, thoughts of just returning home were reeling through my mind but I made it for adoration in the end. To sum it all up, I would say my time spent there was truly the highlight of my week. Amidst the emotional turmoil I was facing, I was finally able to experience peace just as God promised, “Come all those who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest”. I think its just amazing, how faithful our God is and how his love holds on bounds. Its so easy to love him (-: So I guess I hope for all you people who are reading this (HAHA), that we truly appreciate and treasure this gift of faith and his presence. It is a privilege and it’s just simply beautiful to even claim to be children of his. (-: God created us in love, for love and to love. And as He loves, we are called to love others regardless of our human biases.

LOTS AND LOTS OF LOVE,

I am and I.

– Brenna