Mk9:38-43,45,47-48 [26th Sunday in Ordinary Time]

30th September, 2012 Readings: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith…”

Upon reading this Sunday’s gospel, I was struck by this phrase and was reminded once again of the need to be “a little one” – not only in the sense of my identity of being a child of God but also in simply being childlike.

I loathe being childlike. It necessitates that I do not know everything about something, forcing me to not be the know-it-all I usually rather wish I were. It requires me to be vulnerable, for a child has no defences against the dangers of the world. Most of all, it requires me to be humble; it requires me to smother my pride. Yet, this is exactly what God is calling me to be. I am called to change my life and the way I live in order to reflect His will in me.

I think, if anything, I’m a creature of habit. I like familiar places, familiar people and a familiar routine. I think it takes a lot out of me to be out of this comfort zone. Once again, this is exactly what I’m called to do; I’m called out of my “cave”. For it is in this familiarity that I have found myself stagnating. And it is stunting my growth as a person. I have failed to see how some aspects of my life have become unhealthy.

I hate to admit that excessive gaming sometimes is an issue for me; however, it has become my tool to escape from work and reality. I know that if I continue down my path, I will definitely face ruin. So I have been trying to cut down on it as much as I can to focus on my studies. It really feels like I lost a limb sometimes (yes pun intended) but as Jesus says, “it is better for you to enter into life crippled”. Truly, I may feel a tinge of withdrawal, but I know I am walking into life. Ultimately by changing the way I live, I now rely on the Lord’s strength to overcome my hardships instead of just deluding myself. In Him I am truly alive.

We may be facing many problems at the moment. And because of these things, we have found it difficult to connect with God. In the Gospel, a man whom the apostles did not know was casting out devils in the name of Jesus. It may seem that we do not know God and sometimes it really seems He has abandoned us. But Jesus reminds us that despite all this, all we need to do is to call on His name, and in Him we too can make miracles happen.

“Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these.” So says Jesus in another part of the Gospel. Let us be children, and call on our Abba Father.

Love,
Andrew

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On Homecoming

On Homecoming

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are pleased to inform you that we have arrived at our destination. Currently, the weather is (freaking) hot. There is no sign of rain, though there’s quite a lot of haze. And mosquitoes. We mustn’t forget the mosquitoes.  … Continue reading

Mk9:30-37 [25th Sunday in Ordinary Time]

23rd September, 2012 Readings: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Me first! Me first! Me first! I’m the number one kid kiasu!”

Rather random, this line came to me as I was thinking about what to share on this week’s readings. This line is from a primary school musical about a girl who wanted everything first, and has somehow stayed with me through the years (lol I blame the catchy tune). I wouldn’t count myself as kiasu, but reflecting on my past few weeks, I think I was living out the ‘me first!’ attitude to life.

This Sunday, Jesus speaks to us about selfishness and pride, as He continues to challenge us to live out an authentic Christian life. For the past two months, I’ve been swamped with commitments – Sojourn, time for friends and family, a lot of meetups, and of course, the new job. Add to that – a couple of tense episodes with people. It was easy to slip into selfishness. Unconsciously, my thoughts revolved around how much time I’ve sacrificed for things, how my commitments mattered more, how alone I felt in my crazy schedule. In conflict, I was insistent on my views being ‘the right ones’, and even as I tried to compromise and give in for the sake of making peace, I did so rather grudgingly. In some sense, I think I’ve been answering the question the disciples were arguing about (Who’s the greatest?) with a resounding ‘ME’.

Selfishness can come in many forms – it could be in refusing to help a colleague out so that we can get ahead at work; not helping your mum out with a simple chore because the things you have to do are more important; or refusing to budge in an argument because our opinions matter more. Whatever the form, the root of selfishness is a preoccupation with self. In the Second Reading, St James reminds us that jealousy and selfish ambitions lead to disorder and conflict, and instead tells us about living out God’s wisdom to bear the fruits of peace, mercy and gentleness. In the Gospel, Jesus provides this wisdom; this cure to selfishness – to be the last of all and servant of all – humility and selflessness. He invites you and I to put aside our preoccupation with self, and to put on His mind and heart instead. In the lyrics of the hymn ‘Prayer of St Francis Xavier’, Jesus reminds us to seek to console than to be consoled, to understand than to be understood, and to love with all our souls than to be loved. He challenges us to think of our neighbour, rather than of ourselves.

If we have experienced and are convicted of God’s love for us, this love moves us and changes us from within. At the heart of it, our faith is always lived out in relation to another and God calls us to be life-giving in our relationships and for our lives to be a reflection of His love. How are we to give life to another if all we think about first is ourselves? How are we able to serve another or live out Christian values of understanding, care and love? How are we able to give generously of our time and presence to build up another person?

So as Jesus challenges me to be more generous in giving of myself and to consider the other in all things, perhaps He’s extending the same invitation to you 🙂 I pray that we all may be more life-giving in our relationships!

❤ Jess

Mk8:27-35 [24th Sunday in Ordinary Time]

16th September, 2012 Readings: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

For my reflection, I will just share what struck me in the readings. The passage which stood out the most to me would be the last sentence, which states “for whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it”. This passage reminded me of the previous Sunday’s  Sojourn session about Trust – how we must trust in God and as such be willing to lose our lives for Him, as we know that He will save us and grant us the greatest gift: that of eternal life.

Jesus is telling His disciples that whoever loses his life for Him will be saved by Him. In our everyday lives, often we only think about ourselves, doing things which will be for our benefit, neglecting spending time with God for earthly needs such as going out with friends, or worse still, studying. In a sense, I picture this as saving one’s self, to fulfill one’s selfish needs, and this will only lead to him losing his “life”. We are often bogged down by such pressures and forget that by saving our own lives, we will just end up losing it.

Jesus tells us that if we are to follow Him and His ways, i.e. to follow after Him, we will have to deny ourselves and take up His cross. “Losing our life” signifies to me a kind of willingness to give up all our worries, our pressures, our needs and wants to follow Him. It will not be a simple journey and this is signified by the need to carry our own crosses and, but we have to trust in God and Jesus, that if we follow in His ways, we will be saved.

So, friends, I pray for everyone and myself that this week, we will all be willing to trust in God, that we do not focus too much on “saving” ourselves, but willingly “lose our lives” for His sake. Don’t get bogged down too much with your daily lives, but instead follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Have a good week ahead! (:

– Paul Goh

Mk7:31-37 [23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time]

9th September, 2012 Readings: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Ephphatha!” “Be opened!”

Somehow it seems as though those words are meant for me. It cannot be that many years after that particular event that He would know the impact of those words in our lives today. But He would know I guess. He would know that sometime today, the wheels of our faith would need that bit of oil and mending to get it going once again. If all it took was a touch by His finger, what more if He offered His hand or an embrace. Nothing will be able to comprehend the marvels of what is available to us – at which we turn away most of the time – temporally distracted by the many other concerns of this world. But I digress.

There is a lot to be said of the people who brought this deaf and dumb man and begged Jesus to heal him. One can say that they did not truly believe and were putting Jesus to the test, and another could say that they had every bit of faith in who Jesus was and what He was able to do. The skeptic in me would have never believed until I saw for my own eyes. But I guess that’s what Jesus’ ministry was for; to cast away any doubts of who He said He was, not that He had to prove himself, but for people who needed to see to believe.

I have to say that I really found it hard to relate to this week’s gospel. Those 2 paragraphs above are a miracle in some sense. The funny thing was that I did not realise that I was so bent on finding the best way to write up a reflection that I couldn’t seem to find anything to say that would mean much. That the fear of not being able to capture the gospel and of not being understood overruled. I guess that I too am in need of Jesus’ healing. So in my fearful state, I offer up this reflection, that my own “Ephphatha” will come too.

– Joan