Mk5:21-43 [13th Sunday in Ordinary Time]

1st July, 2012 Readings: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“On your marks…”
Almost instantly, all eight athletes fell to their knees and pressed their fingers down onto the blazing hot rubber as they carefully planted their feet on the two starting blocks. They had all done this at least a hundred times each. They had all rehearsed this moment in their heads over and over. And now, it was finally here.

All eyes were fixed on the athlete with the shiny golden “4” on the side of her thigh. I noticed the three huge letters, USA, plastered across her chest, as she reached for the crucifix hanging from her neck and raised it to her lips before setting it back down. Now, she was ready.

Get set…” –BANG-

And they were off, with the favourite in lane four leaping to quick start ahead of the other athletes. By the time she reached the last 30m, her lead was unquestionably uncontested as she sailed to an easy finish in first place.

Crashing to the ground, half in exhaustion and half in relief, she shut her eyes, clasped her hands together and offered a prayer of thanksgiving up to God before brandishing the glorious flag of red, white and blue and joining in the celebrations.

***

Okay so maybe we aren’t all Olympic athletes. But one has much to learn from a world-class athlete who continues to place her trust in the Lord even though she practically had the gold in the bag before even stepping out onto the track.

In this week’s gospel, Jesus performs one of his many miracles, healing first a sick woman, and then a man’s dying daughter. But these miracles didn’t happen out of magic or supernatural occurrences, they happened because of one crucial element in the hearts of both the woman and the man: faith – the trust and belief that Jesus had the power to restore these people to full health.

It was easy for them both to give up all hope and just pass the situation off as being completely hopeless, resigning themselves to death and despair. In a similar way, the athlete could have taken it for granted that she would win, relying solely on her own strength and maybe even falling into complacency. But today’s gospel tells us how crucial it is for us to rely on the grace and healing power of God in our trials and challenges, no matter how promising or absolutely desolate the situation may seem.

How often do we think of giving up when we face a difficult question or a tough life decision? How often do we choose to rely only on our own human strength, neglecting to realise that God is constantly holding out his hand to us, waiting to walk this road with us?

Personally, I find it difficult to place my faith in God when facing trials or difficulties. I often feel like I don’t need God, telling myself that I can handle my problems on my own and letting my own thought and rationality get in the way of God’s soft promptings. But it’s one thing to be confident and another thing to realise that human strength alone is simply not enough to get by. We cannot face these challenges alone. And today God tells us that we DON’T have to face these challenges alone, for He is there to carry us through.

God works through the little things – our friends giving us advice or lending us a listening ear, our parents who look out for us and care for us unconditionally, even our teachers who go out of their way to help us to understand concepts and issues. What’s left for us is to be open to that voice of concern or offer of help that comes our way. Only then are we truly letting God work in our lives.

But wait. What about the other athletes who religiously offer their races up to God, yet do not attain that same good result as our American champion? Well, let’s just say God has a plan for each of us. Some athletes rejoice in the glorious opportunity to represent ones nation, others jump for joy on hitting a new personal best timing in the games; these small successes are God’s little ways of telling us that the faith we put in him is not neglected. Although sometimes these small successes may not seem like much – in fact sometimes they might be far from what we hope to achieve – today I challenge you to cling to this promise that God gives to us and be patient for the Lord works not in our time but His, and “strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord”.

❤ Alex

Lk1:5-17 [Nativity of St John the Baptist]

24th June, 2012 Readings: Nativity of St John the Baptist

This week’s Gospel revolves around the announcement of the impending birth of John the Baptist. Beyond just conveying this good news though, the passage bears testimony to the grace and power of God when Man puts their faith in him. In turn, it also instructs on what is deemed as greatness in the eyes of God.

The passage explicitly points out that the couple Zechariah and Elizabeth are of an old age. Further on from that, it states that Elizabeth is unable to bear children. This is a reflection of sorts of the human circumstance they both find themselves in. Common human logic would dictate that it would be impossible for them to have a child. As such, human logic would also cause one to turn from the notion of such a possibility faced with such circumstance.

Nonetheless, it is made apparent that all this while Zechariah has still kept faith in the Lord and maintained constant prayer asking for the blessing of child. This much is made clear when the angel said “God has heard your prayer”. This proclamation also serves as a vindication of faith. The couple is old, hence the prayer for a child must have been long dragged out. For them to have kept at prayer and led the righteous life of servitude the passage describes, they must have kept faith despite the long period of trial where Elizabeth was barren. In return, they were rewarded with a child when everything else said they could never have one.

For me, this message is striking since I’m at the point in my life where I’m trying to set the foundations for a successful career and in a way, life. For the most part, its been a very human effort i.e. I’ve put my faith in graft and hard work. In itself, I guess this isn’t wrong or a bad thing, but I’ve done this without thought of asking for intercession from God or depending on his instruction / strength. This passage is a reminder of sorts for me that man is limited but God isn’t and when we put our faith in him we will be rewarded. This especially so I think when we persevere in our faith through the trials and tribulations of our lives, when our humanity would tell us that what we strive for isn’t possible.

Then again, like the couple here, I guess our desires must be guided by God. They lived ‘good lives in God’s sight and obeyed fully all the Lord’s laws and commands’. By extension, their desires and wants are also founded in the Lord’s plan for them. It would appear then that not only must we keep our faith in the Lord but we must be guided by that faith to do as he directs.

This links to the angel’s description of John who “will be great in the Lord’s sight”. We can then believe that greatness according to the church is to “bring fathers and children together again” and “turn disobedient people back to the way of thinking of the righteous”. The passage is an instruction then on how to achieve greatness. Not the greatness as society would deem it, but eternal greatness by bringing people to God. It thus serves as a calling of sorts for us.

For me, the passage communicates that to reach beyond our humanity and the confines of what our minds and society tells us we can, we first need to have faith. We then needed to be guided by this faith to be great as defined by the Lord, to reach out to those around us and bring them to the church like John the Baptist before us. Only then, will we be rewarded and this reward will be greater than what we could possibly conceive and will come at a time that the Lord decides, just as Zechariah and Elizabeth were rewarded not only with a child, but with a child who was to be great, in their old age.

Reflecting on this, I guess this passage is a personal reminder to put the church and God at the center of what I do, an apt reminder at a point in time where I’m still struggling to re-commit to the church after a long period of absence.

– Melvin Seah

Mark 4:26-34

This Sunday the 17th of June: 1st readings are Ezekiel 17:22-24, Psalm 92:23-3, 13-16, 2nd reading 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 and Gospel Mark 4:26-34.

Basically, this Sunday’s gospel is about the kingdom of God likened to a mustard seed that fully grows into a tree, providing for many. The Gospel draws me to think of how we have stroved to live and build the kingdom of God. This is the calling of all disciples.

When it comes to how our life has been a part of the kingdom of God. More simply, have you lived the kindgom of God in every part of your life. Ministry or not, in community or out, if your life does not have the essence of a disciple’s life, you will not be able to build God’s kingdom since your life is not part of it. Try and you would crumble from within.

From personal to familial to public life, have you bore the mark of a disciple of Christ? To be a disciple of bears all the duties given by God. From receiving graces, standing witness to observing obedience. Obedience to the Father requires you to defer to those the Father has set over you.

I had always this uneasy question: would I rest in God’s peace if I had close ones who do not?

I do not think that building the kingdom of God necessarily means that you grow every ability to the fullest. Sometimes it calls for the self-sacrifice to not grow. Trusting that God would bless you for every sacrifice you make. Very often, these blessings are unexpected and sometimes beyond our very imagination.

Repentance of sin brings us closer to being in the God’s kingdom. Our sins hinder us when we walk the narrow path to our destination. This is why the sacrament of reconcillation, along with the other sacraments, are an instrumental part of life and allow us to actually live the life a Catholic. That is the life to be an active part of God’s plan for all.

Many a times there would had been a calling to be somewhere, with someone or to do something. You may had misgivings, doubts, felt rejection, betrayal, unjust judgement or unwanted or experience great pain and sorrow.

Nonetheless, by following the calling your presence would bless those there and you would be blessed in return. If you don’t see it happening, perhaps you need to open yourself to God more, namely in prayer. Let the spirit of God enfold you and maybe you would be able to connect. Sometimes it is up to the majority to make a change. You may not believe this, but what would the kingdom be without 1 lost sheep?

Lastly, time should be spent on awe and wonder of the kingdom of God.

-dom

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Mk14:12-16, 22-26 [Corpus Christi]

Hi guys, I’m Nigel.

So if you guys don’t know, this Sunday is Corpus Christi, also known as The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Like Trinity Sunday and the Solemnity of Christ the King, this day does not commemorate a particular event in Jesus’ life. Instead it celebrates the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Its actual date is the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but “where the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day”.

Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, `The Teacher says, where is my guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Now here is a short sharing about the importance of the Eucharist in my life (since this Sunday’s gospel is about the Eucharist). The Eucharist has been a big part of my faith ever since I started serving as an altar boy. And that made me understand things about the Eucharist etc. I would love to go for mass, especially  during my exam period – not because I believe that going to church would give me good grades and I would top my class,  or that if I gave time to God in turn he would give me good grades. I did believe in that at first. But after reflection I realized: it was actually going for the Eucharist that gave me a lot peace and calmness, and thus, with Christ in me, I would be in the right frame of mind to do what I need to do. Nowadays, due to the changes in my life, I find it hard to go for mass as I have a new timetable and so I find it hard to rush to church. But when I do get the chance to go, I get this awesome feeling as it feels great to pull myself away from this ever-changing and competitive world and set time aside for someone who is ever waiting patiently for me. Someone who gives himself to me which we now receive through the bread and wine at the Eucharist, transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ.

Verses 22-24 says this :

And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

So what we receive during the Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus Christ. And yes I know it’s hard to understand/believe how Jesus can be in that piece of bread or the many pieces of bread on the altar. I don’t have an answer to that. But I don’t need an answer, because I have faith and it’s funny how I believe without an answer or a reason behind this, cause I’m a person that needs to know the reason and answers for things. Another thing that puzzles me is how a priest is able to partake of the role of Jesus. And I found this answer in the bible.

Philippians 4:13 :

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

So with this strength that he gets from God he is able to fill this big gap.And in the same way I feel that I get strengthened/empowered by God every time I receive him in the Eucharist, to go out and live a Christ-centred life and to be a witness of Christ which I struggle to live from time to time.

Anyway, as I end off, I challenge you guys to find that passion and faith to continue to serve god in our daily life and live a Christ-like life.

– Nigel