Daily Archives: September 7, 2006

Thursday, Sep 7 – An Empty Cup

07 Sep

Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God’s best gifts. It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one’s self, and appreciating whatever is noble in loving in another. – Thomas Hughes

1 Corinthians 3:18-23

Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are: or again: God is not convinced by he arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

Luke 5:1-11

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.” And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point. When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, “Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.” Then bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

There is a saying: A cup must be empty before it can be filled.

That’s like duh! but it’s surprising how many of us cannot seem to grasp this basic fact. There are many people who attend talks, courses, seminars, discussion groups etc, thinking that they already know everything and are simply there to share with others what they know. There are also many people who help out in church or join cell groups “as a favour to others” because they have more experience and can probably “give” to others.

“I am here to give, not to receive,” says their attitude. Such an attitude belies one’s confidence in his own wisdom. Yet it closes the door to gaining more, not just in terms of knowledge, but also in terms of spiritual graces.

There is a rule in the Catholic Church that says that when Catholics come to receive Holy Communion by the hand, their hands must be empty and not holding anything else. If we want to receive God in our lives, we need to make space for him. Not just a bit of space, but we need to clear our hearts of everything else that occupies any space at all, because God is going to occupy our whole heart. Our God is a jealous God. He doesn’t want our hearts to be cluttered with anything else.

“But what about those things which are important to me? My family, my loved ones, security in my future, etc? Those things are important to me too!” we say. But isn’t it God that gives all these gifts to us? All these gifts were given to us for our use, to bring about the kingdom of God in the whole where we are. Now God, the king himself, wants to dwell in our hearts. All his gifts to us must make way for the king himself. Our trust in his gifts should not overshadow our trust in him.

Yet to some, it might seem foolish, to give up what is secure e.g. a job with a good pay, a university degree, a promising career, a potential marriage, for what seems terribly insecure – a call from God. But in the eyes of a believer, such a move is even more secure, since it is God himself who provides us these gifts. If we can thank God that we have the gifts, can we not trust him to provide for our needs when we follow his call?

God’s call does not have to be to become a religious or priest, or missionary in some other country. God’s call to us can take place where we are, asking us to give up something precious to us, to be someone for him, someone special he wants us to be as part of his grand plan. In answering this unique call, we will be securing our future even more than we can on our own, because we are putting our security in the hands of the Provider who provides even afterlife retirement.

Prayer: We pray for the grace to trust God and follow him when and where he calls us to follow.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Contentment in life.

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, 8 Sep – Micah 5:1-4a or Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23; Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sat, 9 Sep – 1 Corinthians 4:6b-15; Luke 6:1-5; Memorial for Bl. Peter Claver, priest
Sun, 10 Sep – Isaiah 35:4-7a; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37; 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.