Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, January 16, 2019 — Man on a Mission

January 16, 2019

Preaching and driving out demons

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Jesus cures Simon’s mother-in-law

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Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 307

Reading 1  HEB 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and Flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8a)  The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generationsB
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R.  Alleluia.

Alleluia  JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord.
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MK 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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16 JANUARY, 2019, Wednesday, 1st Week, Ordinary Time

IDENTIFICATION WITH GOD AND OUR FELLOWMEN AS THE BASIS FOR SERVICE IN MINISTRY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  HEB 2:14-18MK 1:29-39 ]

Those of us who have found Christ or have a Christ-experience are usually on cloud nine.  We are so much in love with Christ and become very enthusiastic in our faith, whether in spiritual life or in ministry.  With so much fire in us, we give ourselves generously, not to only one or two ministries but often involving ourselves in many ministries, since we seem to be in demand by many people.  Yet, not infrequently, we find ourselves losing steam within a short while.  Many of us suffer from burn-out. Others become disillusioned and scandalized when they realize that they are working with imperfect priests and fellow lay Catholics.  Others become too tired because of over commitment, leading to an unbalanced lifestyle that affects not only their prayer life but also their relationships at home and at work.  We become jaded, skeptical, doing the minimum and in a perfunctory manner too.  What pitfalls must we avoid in order not to lose our commitment and zeal for the ministry? 

Firstly, we must always stay in touch with our fellowmen, especially the people we serve.  We must know them well enough so that we can feel for and with them.  Indeed, today’s first reading makes it clear that “it was not the angels that he (Jesus) took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham.”  The reason is clear. If Jesus became man, it was so that He could share equally our blood and flesh and understand what it means to be human.  As man, Jesus too suffered the same trials and faced the same challenges we go through each day.  He too had to live in fear under the threat of death.  He too was tempted each day.  Hence, Jesus understands too well what it means to be human.   Hebrews tells us “it was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins.  That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.”

Being in touch with our fellowmen arouses compassion in our hearts.  Understandably, the gospel relates the hectic activity in the life of Jesus.  He was busy reaching out to those who needed help.  He healed the sick and “cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another.”  Besides healing the afflicted, “he also cast out many devils.”  Hence, the twofold purpose of ministry, namely, healing and liberation.  He understood the basic needs of the people. Before He could even proclaim about God and teach them about His love, He knew it was necessary to first demonstrate the power and love of God by reaching out to them.

Indeed, the people initially came to Jesus not because they recognized Him as the Son of God but simply because they wanted to be healed of their infirmities and be rid of their bondage to sin, fear and the Evil One.  Thus, it should not be surprising that “the whole town came crowding round the door” seeking for Jesus’ help.  This should be an important reminder to those of us in ministry.  We must be sensitive to the needs of our people and respond to their immediate needs before even speaking to them about God.  We cannot proclaim God’s love and mercy in the abstract.  His love and mercy must be demonstrated concretely in their lives.  Let us proclaim in actions before we proclaim in words.

However, we must also be watchful.  In our desire to fulfill the needs of our people, we can lose focus.  Compassion can lead to possession by those whom we minister to.  As we reach out to those who need our help, we can expect that many would be grateful to us and would want to own us for themselves.  If we are not careful, we can allow ourselves to be possessed by those who love us and thereby hinder our ministry to others who are still waiting for the Good News to be proclaimed to them.  This was what happened to Jesus.  The people, we are told, were looking for Jesus.

Of course, the reverse could also be possible.  When we become so popular, we can be tempted to build our own kingdom.  We must be conscious that we are not leading people to ourselves but to Jesus. Indeed, Jesus was tempted by His popularity since the disciples told Him, “Everybody is looking for you.” But Jesus would not even think about staying in His comfort zone.   All He wanted to do was to proclaim the Good News to all and for the sake of the people of God.  We must learn to be like Jesus, to do our job and then disappear from the scene.  To seek recognition and appreciation can lead us to egotism and self-worship.

So in order to stay focused, we must learn from Jesus.  If Jesus had a heart for man, it was because His heart was first and foremost with the Father.  Jesus was not only identified with us, more importantly, He identified Himself with the Father.  The strength and secret of Jesus’ ministry lay in His communion with the Father.  St Mark tells us “in the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, he went off to a lonely place and prayed there.”  Hence instead of simply being complacent and creating a niche for Himself in the village, Jesus told Simon and His companions “‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’  And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.”

Yes, Jesus remained focused in His ministry.  He did not suffer from any burn-out or fall into complacency, or conversely become ambitious and self-seeking.  His only concern was His Father’s desire to reach out to all.  Jesus the Good Shepherd after the heart of His Father could feel with so many people who were waiting for the Good News.  Let us too, in our ministry, keep our focus by remaining connected with the sufferings of our people and at the same time, grow in compassion and wisdom through our union with God in prayer.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, January 7, 2019 — We keep his commandments and do what pleases him

January 7, 2019

If they belong to the world their teaching belongs to the world

Am I doing what pleases God or what pleases me?

“The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light; on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.”

Service to others shows the face of God’s mercy, compassion, love and forgiveness. It helps bring people from the darkness into the light.

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Monday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 212

Reading 1 1 JN 3:22–4:6

Beloved:
We receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit whom he gave us.Beloved, do not trust every spirit
but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can know the Spirit of God:
every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh
belongs to God,
and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus
does not belong to God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist
who, as you heard, is to come,
but in fact is already in the world.
You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them,
for the one who is in you
is greater than the one who is in the world.
They belong to the world;
accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world,
and the world listens to them.
We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us,
while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us.
This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 2:7BC-8, 10-12A

R. (8ab)  I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.
The LORD said to me, “ou are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.”
R. I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.
And now, O kings, give heed;
take warning, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice.
R. I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.

Alleluia  SEE MT 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 4:12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.
His fame spread to all of Syria,
and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases
and racked with pain,
those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics,
and he cured them.
And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea,
and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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07 JANUARY, 2019, Monday after the Epiphany

THE IMPLICATIONS OF FAITH IN THE INCARNATION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 JN 3:22-4:6MT 4:12-1723-25 ]

Very often, we hear remarks that the Catholic Faith is very ritualistic. This is because we pay great emphasis on the sacramentals of the Church, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.  We have elaborate ceremonies especially on significant feast day celebrations.  The liturgical rubrics are spelt out clearly so that the signs and symbols used will convey the reality that is celebrated.  There is the use of liturgical vestments, incense, crucifixes, candles, procession, holy water, etc besides gestures of bowing, kneeling and genuflecting.

At times, we are seen to be superstitious as well.  This is because we are very particular whether the rules are followed, especially in devotional practices, like fulfilling the nine days of Novena or blessing ourselves with holy water.  Our people love to go on pilgrimages, visiting shrines, praying before statues, offering prayers and petitions, offering flowers, buying holy pictures and rosaries, lighting candles, wearing religious medals and believing in indulgences.

Besides the sacramentals, we have the seven Sacraments of the Church.  These Sacraments are important in the life of a Catholic, especially the Sacraments of Initiation, namely, Baptism, the Eucharist and Confirmation.  Then we also have the Sacrament of Matrimony, where married couples are called to be the image of Christ’s love to each other and for humanity.  Catholics also frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation when they need to have their sins forgiven.  When they are sick, they are given the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  The last Sacrament is that of Holy Orders to ensure the continuity of priests to serve the Church.

Because of the emphasis on sacramentals and Sacraments, some Protestants accuse Catholics of abandoning the Scriptures and subscribing to man-made traditions.  Is this true?  For the Protestants, their emphasis is on the Scripture as the Word of God.  The rituals are secondary.  What is fundamental is the preaching of the Word of God.  Protestant services are basically Word service.  Those mainstream Protestants who have branched out of Catholicism, continue with some of these traditions, albeit stripping the religious ceremonies of its grandeur for fear of giving the impression of being overly ritualistic and superstitious.     

What is the basis for the use of sacramentals and Sacraments?  It is based on the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is what St John wanted to underscore in today’s first reading.  The baby Jesus we adore at Christmas is not just any baby but He is Christ our Lord, the Saviour of the world.  The baby Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, is truly man and yet truly God.  Our confession of faith in Jesus as the Word made Flesh is fundamental to our salvation.  This is why John insisted on faith in the incarnation.  He wrote, “You can tell the spirits that come from God by this: every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh is from God; but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus is not from God, but is the spirit of Antichrist, whose coming you are warned about.”   Jesus is not just from God but He is also from man born of Mary.   Faith in the incarnation means that God has assumed our humanity and it will be through and in His humanity that we will see the face of God.  In the gospel, Jesus states in no uncertain terms, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”  (Jn 14:9-11)  Those who deny the humanity of Jesus or deny His divinity, as many do, are the false prophets.

Indeed, the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation is to show us the face of God’s mercy, love and forgiveness.  This explains why in His ministry, Jesus spent most of His time not just preaching but ministering to the sick and the suffering.  In the gospel, we read, “He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people. His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralysed, were all brought to him, and he cured them.”  He gave the same instructions to the disciples when it came to preaching the Good News.  He said, “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.”  (Mt 10:7f)

The only way to convince people that God loves them is not by mere preaching alone but helping them to encounter God in a human way.  This means for the sick people, healing; for the oppressed, deliverance; for the sinner, forgiveness; for the dying, eternal life.  This is why Jesus left the Church the seven sacraments so that every Christian is sustained in his or her life journey through the graces that come from God in the sacraments.  When we are sick or dying, we turn to the Sacrament for the Anointing of the Sick.   When feel burdened by our sins and we need forgiveness, we turn to God who speaks through the priests, “I absolve you from all your sins.”  When we are married and starting a new family, we celebrate the sacrament of Matrimony to give us the strength and renew our love for Him so that couples could love each other more deeply. Of course, the Eucharist is the Sacrament par excellence because He is truly present in the bread and wine given to us so that we might remain in communion with Him and His Church.

The sacraments become the basis for the use of sacramentals in the Church.  As human beings, we need to see, to touch and feel the presence of God.  Again this was what St John wrote, “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life –  this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it.”  (1 Jn 1:1f)  We cannot see or touch the Lord physically today.  But we can still feel His presence through the use of statues and medals, signs, symbols, sacred actions.  This is not being superstitious unless we mistake the signs for the reality.  They remain signs and symbols pointing to the reality behind what is manifested, seen or touch.  It is just like the National Flag, a symbol of the nation.  Just as we do not worship the flag when we stand at attention, we do not worship the symbols.  But as human beings, signs and symbols are ways to help us get in touch with the mind and the spirit.

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But faith in the incarnation is not just the signs and symbols used in the liturgy and worship, it must be concretized in humble service and generous giving.  In assuming flesh, Jesus is identified with us.  He is not ashamed to call us His brothers.  (cf Heb 2:11)  He is identified with the least of our brothers and sisters.  (cf Mt 25:40)  That is why right worship must lead to right practice, which is the love for our fellowmen.  St John wrote, “Whatever we ask God, we shall receive, because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life that he wants.  His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us to. Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him. We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.”   If God were to live in us, then this indwelling of God in us should remind us to reach out to the poor and the suffering.  This is why charity is a corollary principle of authentic worship of God.  It is futile for us to claim that we have the right liturgy and the right way to worship God but in our lives, we lack charity and compassion for the suffering and the poor.   This is the basis for the social service of the Church, not primarily humanitarian but spiritual by showing them the face of God.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 

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Related:

Valuing human beings leads to human rights

December 14, 2018

There are rights only because there is value. Where we place no value, we do not even begin to think ascribing any right. Now is the perfect time to discuss the issue of human rights. Not that this is a good time to focus on a political controversy but because the Christmas season is upon us. Christmas is the perfect season to discuss difficult issues; its kind and generous spirit softens even the acrimonious.

Human rights are naturally controversial in societies that are grappling to recognize, much less respect, the universality of human value. It is easy to accept that we as humans have value but difficult to extend the same human value to others beyond ourselves and those we care for. We probably never can regard others as ourselves (and our extensions) but a great effort must be exerted nonetheless. Only by achieving a reasonable level of valuing human beings, whether we know them or not, whether we liked them or not, can we begin to relate them to rights that they deserve.

Commentary
By 
Philippine Inquirer

12:43 AM December 14, 2018

The higher we value human life, the greater the rights we will extend to them. Accordingly, the lesser the importance we have for others, the lesser rights we will accommodate for them. This is why we must struggle to raise the level of how we regard humanity as a race. Otherwise, the value of human life is not only selective but may be extremely so. As the saying goes, some are more equal than others. Applying that disparity into a society of laws destroys all sense of justice.

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The body of a man whom police said was killed during a drug bust operation in the Philippines. Have we forgotten the importance and value of human life?

When societies were ruled by monarchies in various permutations, the inequality of human value was most obvious. The rights of kings contrasted extremely with the rights of peasants. We can even say that the right to life was not only divinely ordained but shared with human rulers. At the dictates of emperors and kings, millions of human lives would be sacrificed in the altars of wars. People were simply like numbers or statistics. History had honored great personalities and reported all others as mere casualties. Before human rights is that which is more fundamental – human value itself.

Low human value, low human rights.

Does the Philippines have a human rights problem? I am sure it has. I am just as sure that it has been a perennial problem, at least from the days of foreign invasions and occupations. There were masters and slaves. Surely, they were not equal, not in value, not in rights. The few had everything, including hereditary blessings, while the vast majority had their inheritance as well – a life of poverty.

With our background of extended massive poverty, all human rights declarations are theoretical; beyond that, they are hypocritical. Yes, human life is valuable, except that the lives of the poor count for so much less. The ascendancy of human rights violations, or at least accusations of the same, have come in substantive chunks during martial law and now again in the last two and a half years of the Duterte administration. These are the periods when human rights abuses were alleged, especially when media is suppressed, and especially when the state is suspected of carrying out summary executions. Not seen or heard, because few would give them any attentional at all, has been the continuous thread of fear and misery that are attendant to poverty.

We are in a spike today because of the drug war. Numbers of deaths that range from 5,000 to 25,000, all these related to the war on drugs according to anti-Duterte forces, are no joke. Whatever caused these violent deaths is really not an excuse for the deaths to have happened at all. In a free and democratic society, in a nation of laws, thousands of violent deaths are an aberration. We must not take them lightly, and we must find ways to dismantle that pattern of violence.

If the cause is the war on drugs, then that war must be fought differently, more effectively. It is understandable that a country where drug syndicates have operated with great success, claiming even the cooperation of many public officials (and that includes the police, of course), mere intramurals between syndicates wanting more, territory, more business, and more control translate to serious violence. The examples and lessons of Colombia and Mexico tell us that our casualty numbers are still low and that the situation can be much more horrible.

Ironically, there is an acceptance by the majority of Filipinos that the drug menace will have collateral damage, such as the reported deaths, official and otherwise. Killing is not part of the Filipino culture but Filipinos have not expressed outrage, not in the numbers that clearly reflect how anti-culture killing is. Either Filipinos understand that drugs are a real scourge that they have had to live with for years without much government intervention, or it is a lingering resignation of poor people who know they have very much less value than the rich. Maybe, they are convinced that their fate is simply a matter of which side of the fence one is born into.

We are moving towards the center of the Christmas season towards the heart of Christian teachings about God’s love for the poor. It may be that a human rights controversy is part and parcel of a bigger malady – the low regard for human lives when these belong to the poor. The horrible inequality in how we value human lives according to their economic and social categories will be a millstone around the neck of human rights advocacies. I believe that if we campaign to elevate the value of the lives of the poor, that there is approximate equality in worth and dignity, there will be a clear line drawn against human rights abuses.

All human beings have a right to life. Life is the first value from where all human rights emanate. Yes, we must protect life, and we must protect as well its right to a life of dignity and decency.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/118151/human-value-source-of-human-rights#ixzz5ZfJyRoIk
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Morning Prayer for Friday, December 14, 2018 — Service to Others is an Essential Element in our Humanity, Mental Health

December 14, 2018

Many believe the road to true happiness is in service to others.  Without selfless service to others, we have too much false self-esteem and misguided ego. But once we decide to selflessly pour ourselves out in service to others we can find a real sense of accomplishment through merit.  When we begin to help other people we start to shed what is holding us back the most — our owns selfish and arrogant ways.

A.A. teaches that we have to give ourselves away in order to gain a true understanding of our goodness within.  A river flows into the Dead Sea and stops. A river flows into a clear pool and flows out again. We get and then we give. If we do not give, we do not keep.

Your own compassion can save our lives and our souls.

But compassion is the forgotten virtue of our age. 

How do we find compassion within us?

By doing loving, compassionate service for other. Talking about it is of no avail. We have to do it to get the spiritual miracle.

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Meditation for the Day

Try to see the life of the spirit as a calm place, shut away from the turmoil of the world. Think of your spiritual home as a place full of peace, serenity, and contentment. Go to this quiet, meditative place for the strength to carry you through today’s duties and problems. Keep coming back here for refreshment when you are weary of the hubbub of the outside world. From this quietness and communion comes our strength.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may keep this resting place where I can commune with God. I pray that I may find refreshment in meditation on the Eternal.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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What gives people “Joyful anticipation of the future”? Money? Sex? Drugs?

Not hardly.

Our sense of the future starts with our good mental health. Are we seeking the rights things in the right way. This has been the question for man through the ages.

Many psychologists and spiritual people suggest that we devote a significant effort into service to others. Until we try to genuinely assist others in a meaningful way, many of us are driven by greed, sloth, avarice and the other Deadly Sins. If you don’t believe in sins, may we suggest “character defects.” Character defects are frequently found to be the problem for human beings. The problem is rarely really OUTSIDE. The problem most times is one I can fix because it belongs entirely to me — it is INSIDE!

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Service to Others — Art: The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane

Related:

Self-centered or God-centered?

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See also:

Seven deadly sins

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins

The places, the placed, and the placeless

December 9, 2018

Wondering about the hostility and irritation at who is president, the people in fly-over country and how that insults some in their sense of place in society.

There is a house I see every so often in my travels. It sits where the alabaster 33-mile marker stands along the long-defunct Pennsylvania and Lake Erie Railroad line — perched in a place where the train no longer rumbles by on an old stone foundation that has likely stood for over a century.

By  Salena Zito
Commentary

Every year, ivy and wild vines suffocate its simple charm, climbing up and over its slanted gingerbread slate roof on its right side, the one that faces Cedar Street. And every year, it loses one more shingle and sheds more luster from its ancient apricot paint.

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File photo

In the back of its sloped property, a smaller structure sits — likely a cold cellar, where the family would have stored roots, canned fruits and vegetables, and jerky. The elements have been less kind to it, and its roof has nearly all peeled off.

Once upon a time, a man and a woman likely walked through the threshold of its front door and began their lives together with the same hopes and aspirations most young couples share. They may have struggled, they may have sacrificed, they raised their family, and as their children left for far off places, they grew old in this home.

At least, that’s how I imagine this story goes. I don’t know the ending other than to say the owners are gone, and I wonder why no one came back to love this home again.

It is a line of thought my mind travels down every time I see a place, whether it is a home or a business, that time and people have left behind. How did that impact the neighbors? The community?

It’s increasingly popular to criticize journalists today for spending too much time reporting on places that used to be something much greater. Those who are not populists have become bored and ultimately dismissive of places that used to prosper and the people who made them thrive.

The reaction has gone from a mild annoyance to full-on hostility — placing the blame of their collapse on some sort of racism, denialism, or lack of intelligence. The root of this hostility may be irritation at who is president and how that insults their sense of place in society.

“People like to talk about the dichotomy between coastal elites/fly-over; rural/urban; low density/high density,” said Tom Maraffa, professor emeritus of geography at Youngstown State University. “I would add that the difference is between the placed and placeless, or people who are rooted in their places versus people who are essentially nomads.”

These placeless people, like those highly critical of fly-over folks, develop affinities to ideology and abstractions as opposed to neighborhoods and cities. The lives of the the coastal elites, academics, big business owners, high tech innovators, entertainers, and media personalities have led to this, because they are so mobile.

People who live in places in the heartland are not so mobile. Neither the rooted nor the rootless are “better.” But, too often the cultures clash, with one spending an inordinate amount of time putting down the other, usually on a widely read platform.

“Many people in small towns, rural areas, and some cities lives are tied to their places for generations. So, issues such as climate change and globalization are therefore viewed fundamentally different,” said Maraffa.

The placeless think of global policies, abstract efficiencies, and lofty ideas like social justice.

The placed think of how it will affect their neighborhood, town, and city.

“Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both demagogues,” Maraffa said, referring to the president and the independent Vermont senator. “Trump is the demagogue of the placed, Bernie Sanders is the demagogue of the placeless.”

Examples abound, said Maraffa: “People who voted for Trump share a rootedness in place. Think of people in J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy or the TV series “Justified,” which was tied by the phrase, ‘We dug coal together,’ an expression of place.”

“The recent GM/Lordstown discussion is fundamentally about corporate abstraction versus the impact on places,” he said of the Detroit carmaker’s decision to render the 50-year-old plant “unallocated” for a new car beginning next year.

So, how do we bridge the gap between the placed and the placeless? How do we get the placeless to recognize the importance of place and that opposition to certain policies is not about ignorance or racism or denialism, but about how those policies affect places?

Maraffa said Youngstown State is a good illustration: “Most universities talk about preparing students to go out into the world. At YSU, the discussion is about creating students to stay in Youngstown and doing things to create employment so students won’t have to move away and doing things so that people can move back.”

When Maraffa first started teaching there, he never saw anything like that. “I’ve seen students who were very bright and who could really have made it big somewhere else decide to stay here with a lesser-paying job or future because they were so tied to the greater region,” he said.

It is a very distinct attitude that is sprinkled between places like Washington and New York, but that kind of identity to place is very foreign to people who don’t mind being transient, who have left places like Clark Street for bigger and better things.

There is no easy bridge across this gulf, but it is worth considering that there should be a balance of discussion. Politicians, policymakers, media, academics, business leaders, and the elite could consider that the value of place may have more importance over a person’s attitudes than they ever understood.

And that the root of that tie impacts many of the decisions they make when it comes not just to politics, but also to how they consume goods and view globalization.

No one wants to see houses like the one on Clark Street dot their community. It’s a reminder of loss and abandonment of their social structure, just like so many businesses and churches and social clubs that used to be where they were from.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/the-places-the-placed-and-the-placeless

Morning Prayer for Saturday, December 1, 2018 — Praying That We May Have Compassion for Others

December 1, 2018

Having sympathy and compassion for all who are in temptation, a condition which we are sometimes in, we have a responsibility towards them. Sympathy always includes responsibility. Pity is useless because it does not have a remedy for the need. But wherever our sympathy goes, our responsibility goes too. When we are moved with compassion, we should go to the one in need and bind up his wounds as best we can.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may have sympathy for those in temptation. I pray that I may have compassion for others’ trials.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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Related:

Image result for compassion, christ, art, pictures

Illustration by Michael T. Malm — Jesus Christ Showed Compassion for the Woman Taken in Adultery

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, November 28, 2018 — “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

November 28, 2018

Seeking truth, goodness, love, justice and compassion

Image result for The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane

Art: The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 505

Reading 1 RV 15:1-4

I, John, saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring:
seven angels with the seven last plagues,
for through them God’s fury is accomplished.

Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire.
On the sea of glass were standing those
who had won the victory over the beast
and its image and the number that signified its name.
They were holding God’s harps,
and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God,
and the song of the Lamb:

“Great and wonderful are your works,
Lord God almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O king of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
or glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All the nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 7-8, 9

R. (Rev. 15: 3b) Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!
Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy.
R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!
Before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth;
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity.
R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!

Alleluia  RV 2:10C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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28 NOVEMBER, 2018, Wednesday, 34th Week, Ordinary Time

PERSECUTION OF RELIGIONS A PARADOX

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ REV 15:1-4LUKE 21:12-19 ]

Religions, if they are true religionspromote peace, unity, love and compassion, besides giving their believers a more holistic life on earth as in heaven.  This is done through an integration of the body and the spirit of the human person, the physical, affective life with that of the aesthetic and spiritual need, the individual with the rest of the community.  Religions, therefore, are an asset to everyone and work for the good of all, regardless of race, language and religions.   They are not a threat to those who seek truth, goodness, love, justice and compassion.  They are not a threat to the State as well, because they are partners with the State in bringing about the integral development of the peoples, providing them peace and freedom from anxiety in times of stress, and bringing about unity of all peoples through mutual understanding, dialogue, forgiveness and mutual support.

Yet, the fact is as the Lord warned His disciples that they would be persecuted.  “Men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name.”  In the first reading from the Book of Revelation, we read of the countless martyrs in the early Church who died for their faith and stood up for Christ.  “I seemed to see a glass lake suffused with fire, and standing by the lake of glass, those who had fought against the beast and won, and against his statue and the number which is his name.”

These persecutions come from various quarters.  It can come first and foremost from the State.  Why? This is ironical.  Religions are not the opponents of the State but its collaborators.  This is provided that the State seeks the good of all its citizens, acts justly, treats all citizens with dignity and equality, promote truth and love, and exercise compassion in dealing with those who are weak and vulnerable.   A just and honest government does not need to feel that religions are a threat to their power of governing the country.  Then why should the State feel threatened?  One reason is because religions expose the corruption and injustices of a rogue government, especially when it is a dictatorship.   It is only when governments serve their own interests, abuse their powers, discriminate the people they govern, institute policies that are unjust, unfair and act against the interests of their people that they are wary of religions. Otherwise, religions and the State should be partners in the development of the country and their people.  Both have the same goals of promoting happiness, progress, prosperity, harmony, unity and peace in the country.

Secondly, some States are afraid that believers might have double allegiance or worse still, allegiance to their religion before the State.  This explains why in ancient times, the King held both political and religious powers so that they had full control of the people.  In the present day, politics and religions are separated, which at times has led to subtle or even public claims to power and control.  When this happens, there will be disunity in the country and the government of the day, especially when it cannot govern the people according to the mandate given to them.  But Jesus made it clear, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  (Mt 22:21) St Paul urged the Christians, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.”  (1 Tim 2:1f)  So Christians must be good citizens.  And we would tend to believe that all true religions promote patriotism and universal brotherhood of humanity as well.

Thirdly, persecution can come from among religions.  This is a contradiction.  Religions must promote peace, mutual respect, love and unity.  Unfortunately, religions can fall into spiritual worldliness.  They can seek power, money and influence.  As a result, they become jealous of the success of others.  They seek to proselytize and even compel others to accept their religions.  They persecute, oppress and discriminate those who do not accept their religions.  The rivalry among religions contradict the universal values that all religions aspire to.  In fact, we all aspire to build “a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace.”  (Gaudium et Spes, 39d) So in many places, those of minor religions are oppressed and are disadvantaged.  The lack of neutrality for all religions does not accord our claims that religion is based on faith.  That being so, faith is a gift and it cannot be imposed but only offered.  This situation becomes more complicated when religion is mixed up with politics, with both making use of each other to gain power.  In some countries, politicians use their religion to get votes and religions use politics to gain power, privileges and influence.   This can of course lead to envy and resentment among the peoples for the lack of fair play.

Fourthly, persecution, as the Lord said, comes from the world.  “You will be hated by all men on account of my name.”  The reality is that the world is concerned with money, power, prestige and pleasures.   Anything that can appeal to the sensual needs of peoples or their ego and pride, they seek to satisfy.  Some things that the world offer is good for the people, as they help them to achieve a higher standard of living.  But the world is blind to what is right or wrong.  A world without ethical values would be like a car given to a little boy to drive.  All things in the world can be used for good or for evil, for building up a person or destroying a person, for strengthening the family or destroying the family.  Because religions stand up for truth, the dignity of human life, compassion for the weak, honesty and justice, fairness to all, often they are at logger heads with the values of the world.  We become opposed to their desire to make more money through consumerism and entertainment.  Thus, the world and religions often do not get along.  Rightly so, Jesus said, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.”  (Jn 17:14)

Fifthly, persecution often comes from within the family. “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death.”  Some members of the family cannot accept the apostasy of their members because of their desire to maintain unity among the members of the family.  Having people from different religions in a family can become a source of tension because the family no longer share common values as most of these values originate from their faith beliefs.  So we can appreciate why those who convert to other faiths are often persecuted, covertly and subtly, if not outrighty rejected and discriminated or even separated.

What do we do in the face of such persecutions?  The Lord assures us of His assistance.  He said, “that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict.  Not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.”  We need first to be grounded in our faith.  We need to have a strong personal conviction of what we believe in and why we believe.  Unless, we have a deep encounter with the Lord, we will not be able to offer our faith as Good News to our listeners.  We are not trying to indoctrinate people or even convince people using mere intellectual arguments alone to prove that our faith is true.  What is more important is that we must first live out our faith.  We must find meaning and inspiration from our faith to live a life of love, service and forgiveness in union with Christ.  We are not propagating our faith as an ideology; rather, it is our encounter with the Lord whom we recognize as our saviour, and who by His life, teaching, death and resurrection has shown us the way to fullness of life here on earth and in heaven.

So we must endure like the martyrs of the New Testament in the first reading by standing up for our faith.  We do not retaliate in a violent way but through patient dialogue, reaching out, befriending and fostering mutual understanding, remove all kinds of prejudice and fear so that others will not see us as a threat but as harmless friends.  As believers, whether of Christ or of other religions, we must be exemplary people of faith, seen in our works of love and mercy.  In the final analysis, a true love and experience of God must be seen in our fruits of love.  As St James said, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  (Jms 2:17)  Let us show that religions is the way to the promotion of peace, unity, progress, happiness and development of all peoples.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

Morning Prayer for Saturday, November 3, 2018 — Do your best for the other person

November 3, 2018

Image result for “The Good Samaritan,” by Walter Rane

“The Good Samaritan,” by Walter Rane

I have charity, another word for love. That right kind of love, which is not selfish passion but an unselfish, outgoing desire to help other people. To do what is best for the other person, to put what is best for him or her above my own desires. To put God first, the other person second, and myself last. Charity is gentle, kind, understanding, long-suffering, and full of desire to serve. What I do for myself is lost; what I do for others may be written somewhere in eternity. Have I charity?

Meditation for the Day

“Ask what you will and it shall be done unto you.” God has unlimited power. There is no limit to what His power can do in human hearts. But we must will to have God’s power and we must ask God for it. God’s power is blocked off from us by our indifference to it. We can go along our own selfish way without calling on God’s help and we get no power. But when we trust in God, we can will to have the power we need. When we sincerely ask God for it, we get it abundantly.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may will to have God’s power. I pray that I may keep praying for the strength I need.

From the Book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

Related:

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Several years ago, and filled with pride, on my way to Church on Easter Morning, I spotted a homeless man dressed mostly in a trash bag, standing in front of a 7-11.

I said this quick and very stupid prayer to God:

“Oh God, I am going to show you what a GOOD GUY I AM!”

After jumping out of the car, I approached the homeless man and gave him a crisp FIFTY DOLLAR BILL!

He turned around, went into the 7-11, and stuffed the bill into a donation jar for people more deserving than himself.

When he came back out, he drew near me and said, “We have everything we need.”

I tried that day to stop saying stupid prayers to God.

A few years later, I spotted another homeless man, and approached him to ask if I could do anything for him.

His response: “Cherish what you have.”

Now, I am no Mother Teresa, but after those two encounters, I decided I had better learn how to be of meaningful service to others — without any show or fol-de-rol.

God needs us all in service to others. especially those among us that have been most fortunate.

Everyone in my family knows the story of the “Stupid Guy Prayer.”

But better than that, they all know that “We have everything we need” and to “Cherish what you have” and to “Be of service to others.”

Pass it on!

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you — Prayer and Meditation for Monday, October 29, 2018

October 29, 2018

Image result for crippled woman at the synagogue, jesus

Be set free of your infirmity.  Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love.

Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked….

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Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 479

Reading 1 EPH 4:32–5:8

Brothers and sisters:
Be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you,
as is fitting among holy ones,
no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place,
but instead, thanksgiving.
Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person,
that is, an idolater,
has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments,
for because of these things
the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
So do not be associated with them.
For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (see Eph. 5:1) Behave like God as his very dear children.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Behave like God as his very dear children.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Behave like God as his very dear children.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Behave like God as his very dear children.

Alleluia JN 17:17B, 17A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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29 OCTOBER, 2018, Monday, 30th Week, Ordinary Time

MOTIVATED BY LOVE, OR LAW, OR LAWLESSNESS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ephesians 4:32-5:8Ps 1:1-4,6Luke 13:10-17 ]

How should we live our lives?  Basically, the world can be divided into three classes of people.  Firstly, there are those who live a life of lawlessness.  Such people live for themselves.  It is about seeking pleasure and self-indulgence.  One of these manifestations is living a promiscuous life.  They worship false gods, thinking that self-indulgence can make them happy.  They become addicted to their passions.  This was the case of the people during St Paul’s time.   “Among you there must be not even a mention of fornication or impurity in any of its forms, or promiscuity: this would hardly become the saints! There must be no coarseness, or salacious talk and jokes.”

But deep in their hearts, there is no peace or real joy.  When there is no true love, only pure selfishness, how can there be peace?  St Paul makes is clear, “For you can be quite certain that nobody who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or promiscuity – which is worshipping a false god – can inherit anything of the kingdom of God.”  It is all a pretense.  Their laughter and apparent happiness is empty and shallow.  It is all just a show.  It is merely a suppression of their loneliness, their emptiness, their anger and resentment.  We might try to rationalize what we do and justify our actions but we know that our conscience continues to reprimand us.  That is why St Paul cautions us, “Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments.”

Such feelings of the lack of peace and fulfillment and anger are in themselves the punishment for their sins.  St Augustine says, “The punishment for iniquity is iniquity.”   St Paul in the same vein says, “It is for this loose living that God’s anger comes down on those who rebel against him.”  When we sin, we do not only hurt God and those whom we have hurt but ultimately, we hurt ourselves.  We destroy ourselves gradually by getting deeper and deeper into sin until our conscience is dead to sin.  In that state, no one can save us, not even God, as the Lord warned us, “Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”  (Mt 12:31f)

At the other end of the spectrum are those who live strictly by the law.  They are those who seek to do the right thing.  They love the laws and see the laws as good. “Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is always with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your decrees are my meditation.”  (Ps 119:97-99) They truly desire to live a righteous life.  They teach the laws and encourage obedience to the laws.  As Moses commanded, “Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.  Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  (Dt 6:7f) They truly believe in the goodness and wisdom of the law, like the psalmist in the responsorial psalm.  “Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scorners, but whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law, day and night. He is like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves shall never fade; and all that he does shall prosper. Not so are the wicked, not so!  For they like winnowed chaff shall be driven away by the wind for the Lord guards the way of the just but the way of the wicked leads to doom.”  Indeed, it is not wrong to live in this manner, provided we observe the laws in spirit and in truth.  In this way, we will find the laws not oppressive but liberating.

But we also know that we are far from living the ideals of the laws.  We must learn to accept our limitations and sinfulness.  St Paul asked, “Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law.  But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.  Therefore, the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.”  (Gal 3:21-24)   So it is through faith in Christ that can save us, not the laws, because we will always fall short in fulfilling the laws.

The crux of the problem is that many of us who teach and advocate the laws pretend that we are observing them perfectly ourselves. This is where hypocrisy comes in.  It is one thing to teach the laws as ideals to be attained and as the guide to authentic Christian living, but it is a different thing to presume that all can live up to the laws perfectly.  When we behave as if we are perfect like the scribes and Pharisees in the observance of the laws, we are denying the truth about ourselves.  Our pride and ego cannot accept the fact that we are sinners.  As a consequence, denial of this truth leads us to live under the illusion that we are perfect.  Hence, we tend to be harsh in judging others who fail to keep the laws.  Unable to accept their weaknesses, they cover them up by being harsh and fault- finding with those who sinned or broke the laws.   Instead of examining their own conscience, they focus on others so as to avoid looking at themselves.

This was the case of the synagogue official.  He put himself above those who broke the law.  He was judgmental and unfeeling towards those who were really in need.  He spoke in a nonchalant manner.  He “was indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, and he addressed the people present. ‘There are six days’ he said ‘when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the Sabbath.’”  He could speak in this manner because the woman had nothing to do with him.  He was taken up by his ego and pride in maintaining the laws.  As an official of the synagogue, his duty was to ensure the compliance of the laws at all times.  So he was annoyed that Jesus broke the Sabbath law.  Obviously, he knew he would not be able to fault Jesus and so he addressed the ignorant congregation instead.

Indeed, isn’t that the way we act towards those who break the laws?  We apply the laws in a clinical manner without taking into consideration the specific situation, the person and his circumstances.  We can apply the laws harshly and coldly because we are not the persons implicated.  What if that person was himself or his loved ones?  When it involves ourselves or our loved ones, we would know how to justify ourselves and adjust the laws accordingly.  The truth is that we disconnect ourselves from others when we are not the ones affected by the laws.  That was why the Lord reprimanded him saying, “Hypocrites!  Is there one of you who does not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger on the Sabbath and take it out for watering?  And this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years – was it not right to untie her bonds on the Sabbath day?”

The difference between God and us in applying justice is that God takes into consideration the person and not just the law.  Charity and love is the ultimate truth and law.  The focus is the good of the person, not the observance of the laws.  Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  For a greater good and in this case, relieving the person’s suffering and pain is more important than merely observing the Sabbath Law forbidding work, especially when it is a work of charity and does not involve monetary rewards.  Hence, when the Lord saw the woman “who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that left her enfeebled; she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright,”  Jesus “called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are rid of your infirmity’ and he laid his hands on her. And at once she straightened up, and she glorified God.”

Today, we are invited to imitate Christ in the way we observe the laws and the law of love.  St Paul wrote, “Try, then, to imitate God as children of his that he loves and follow Christ loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.”  This is the ultimate law of love.  Putting others before self is what should motivate us in whatever we do.  This includes even loving our enemies as St Paul says, “Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.”  In this way, we act as children of light and not of darkness.  “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Morning Prayer for Thursday, October 18, 2018 — Humility opens the door to compassion and service to others

October 18, 2018

Image result for humility, god, photos

Not until you have failed can you learn true humility. Humility arises from a deep sense of gratitude to God for giving you the strength to rise above past failures. Humility is not inconsistent with self-respect. The true person has self-respect and the respect of others and yet is humble. The humble person is tolerant of others’ failings, and does not have a critical attitude toward the foibles of others. Humble people are hard on themselves and easy on others.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be truly humble and yet have self-respect. I pray that I may see the good in myself as well as the bad.

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Related:

Humility is the Remedy for all our Miseries

Humility is the Remedy for all our Miseries.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

18 OCTOBER, 2018, Thursday, St Luke, Evangelist

STAYING FOCUSED UNDER TRIAL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 TIMOTHY 4:10-17LUKE 10:1-4  ]

“The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit.”  But the Lord did not simply send them out without informing them of the challenges they would face in their mission.  Jesus never hid from His disciples the trials and sufferings of the apostolate.  He always spoke plainly to them about what it takes to be a disciple.  Earlier on, in the Beatitudes, He said to them, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”  (Lk 6:22f) Then, after the appointment of the Twelve and Peter’s declaration about Jesus, He said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”  (Lk 9:23f)

In sending out the 72 disciples, Jesus also warned them accordingly of the dangers ahead of them.  Right from the outset, He said, “Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”  Indeed, even with the good intentions of sharing the Good News, saving souls, healing hearts and empowering people, there will always be those who will oppose us because of jealousy, perceived threats to their vested interests, ego and pride.   Indeed, Paul wrote, “Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on your guard against him yourself; because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.”

Sometimes, we are abandoned in our mission.  Paul was disappointed by some of his collaborators when they left him in the lurch halfway in the mission, as Mark did initially.  But in a more disappointing case, he said, “Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika.”  Paul felt the sense of abandonment when he wrote, “Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me.”  St Paul spoke of his many betrayals by those whom he worked with.  This is not surprising, even Jesus was betrayed by His apostles, some because of fear and others because of selfish reasons. What is worse is when we need their help most and they are not there to stand up for us.  This was what Paul felt when he wrote, “The first time I had to present my defences, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me.’”

Regardless, we should not allow such trials to distract us from our mission. We must remain focused on our mission.  This was what the Lord advised the disciples.  Salute no one on the road.”  In other words, do not be easily distracted and tempted by the world, be it glory or pleasure or even suffering.  For this reason, we should “stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you.”  We should remain contented with what we have.

We must keep in mind our mission of proclaiming the Good News to the poor, materially and spiritually poor.  Our task is to bring the gospel of peace.  Jesus reminds us, “Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.”  We must be mediators of peace and be peacemakers.  This peace comes about when we help people to be reconciled with God and with each other through forgiveness.

Most of all, we must be those who come to heal the wounded, the sick and the troubled.  Jesus asked of us, “Cure those in it who are sick, and say, ‘The kingdom of God is very near to you.’”  Unless, we heal the broken hearted, it would be difficult for them to believe that God is near.  This was what the Lord took upon Himself when He started His ministry.  The manifesto was from Isaiah 61. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Isa 61:1fLk 4:18f)

Indeed, being peacemakers and healers of wounds are ways we “make known the glorious splendor of your reign” as the psalmist prayed.  “All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord, and your friends shall repeat their blessing.  They shall speak of the glory of your reign and declare your might, O God.  They make known to men your mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of your reign.  Yours is an everlasting kingdom; your rule lasts from age to age.”   The Kingdom of God is the reign of God’s love and mercy seen in the restoration of creation through the establishment of peace, justice and equality.

However, the call to proclaim the gospel is not for the weak and faint-hearted but the strong.  A weak faith cannot sustain us in the apostolate.  This is the challenge for many Catholics, especially those who are not well-formed in the faith and are not undergoing on-going formation spiritually and doctrinally but involved in Church ministry, particularly those who have just completed their RCIA or those who have just been renewed and returned to the Church. In the face of trials, misunderstanding or opposition, they become disillusioned and disheartened.  Instead of being strengthened in the faith through service in the apostolate, they become bitter and resentful.  They fail to realize that even whilst serving in the Church, there will be fellow Catholics and not just non-believers who will attack them and thwart their good deeds and intentions.  Instead of persevering, they give up not just on the Church but on God as well.

If we are to be like St Paul, we need to learn to depend on the Lord.  The psalmist assures us, “The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds.  He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts.”  We cannot depend on our own strength and efforts alone.  Rather, we must call out to God as Jesus did, going to the mountain and desert to pray in the early hours of the morning.  Without intimacy with the Lord and basking in His love and enlightened by His Word, we cannot find the courage and inspiration to continue the mission.  Only then can we remain focused and transcend our enemies. Like St Paul, we too must commend everything to the Lord as Christ Himself did when He prayed for His enemies on the cross.  So too St Paul made excuses for his enemies, for those who were weak, instead of holding grudges in his heart.  He wrote, “May they not be held accountable for it.”

That is why the Lord told the disciples, “Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals.” This is to remind them that the mission is not the work of human hands but the work of God. The Lord works through and in us.  This motif is repeated in the bible in many different ways.  When David fought with Goliath, he said, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”  (1 Sm 17:46f)  Total reliance and dependence on Him alone is the cause of our victory.  This was what St Paul felt when he wrote, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear.”  The Lord will never leave us completely alone.  The Lord encourages us that as far as possible, we should proclaim the gospel, never alone but with our brothers and sisters.  We must bear in mind that the Lord “sen(t) them out in pairs” to strengthen them in their mission.  Mission must be accomplished in communion with the Lord and His Church.  In this way, our mission would be fruitful.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/