Daily Archives: September 10, 2006

Monday, Sep 11 – Looking Beyond The Miracle

11 Sep

“We must strengthen, defend, preserve and comfort each other. We must love one another. We must bear one another’s burdens. We must not look only on our things, but also on the things of our brother. We must rejoice together, mourn together, labour and suffer together.” – John Winthrop
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Matthew 9:18-26

While Jesus was speaking, up came one of the officials who bowed low in front of him and said, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and her life will be saved.” Jesus rose and, with his disciples, followed him.

Then from behind him came a woman, who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years, and she touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I can only touch his cloak I shall be well again.” Jesus turned round and saw her; and he said to her, “Courage, my daughter, your faith has restored you to health.” And from that moment the woman was well again.

When Jesus reached the official’s house, and saw the flute-players, with the crowd making a commotion he said, “Get out of here; the little girl is not dead, she is asleep.” And they laughed at him. But when the people had been turned out he went inside and took the little girl by the hand; and she stood up. And the news spread all round the countryside.
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“Get out of here; the little girl is not dead, she is asleep. And they laughed at him.”

I have been encountering several pieces of sad news lately. A close friend’s father has just passed away after a three-year battle with cancer. Another priest whom I know has cancer too and whose condition seems to be worsening.

Sometimes it is not simply the enemies of the faith who laugh and scorn at our Christian belief in miracles. Sometimes, faced with illness and the bitter fruit of death, we Christians are sorely tempted to cry out and laugh in bitter irony at Our Lord’s seemingly inept power. “He healed before, why does he not do so in my case?”

Other Christians, out of a sense of desperation or otherwise, attempt to explain away the miraculous elements of Jesus teaching and reduce it to the level of pure ethics. It somehow seems less disappointing when Our Lord did not work any miracle for anybody.

Yet I believe both attitudes will not save us from despair. We must hold that our Lord’s miracles are true miracles, they are a demonstration, a token of God’s mercy and power of death and destruction.

Yet we must also hold that our Lord’s mission was not primarily that of a miracle worker but a saviour from sin and to restore man once again to friendship with God and eternal life. Our human condition is fundamentally flawed. The clock of death continues ticking even if we are miraculously cured. We know that the little girl’s mortal life ended again. She too is in need of a saviour to bring her to eternal life.

Yes indeed, for those who do not believe, Our Lord turns them away for they only see death and annihilation. But for us who do believe, through the eyes of faith, our loved ones who have passed from this world are truly risen in the Lord. Yes indeed, our loved ones are not dead, only asleep and they will awaken unto the Lord and into his eternal rest forever. And we too, will see them again in paradise when we pass from our earthly journey to our heavenly home.

My friend and her brother gave a very moving eulogy of faith. “When I was born, I had an earthly father and a heavenly one, now I know that both of them are in heaven watching over me”. – Yes indeed, perfect love casts out all fear!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nick Chui)
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Prayer intention: For those who are experiencing desolation and a crisis in faith.

Thanksgiving: For those whose faith is a pillar for others to lean on.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 12 Sep – 1 Corinthians 6:1-11; Luke 6:12-19; Most Holy Name of Mary
Wed, 13 Sep – 1 Corinthians 7:25-31; Luke 6:20-26; Memorial for John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor
Thu, 14 Sep – Numbers 21:4b-9 or Philemon 2:6-11; John 3:13-17; Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Fri, 15 Sep – 1 Hebrews 5:7-9; John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35; Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Sat, 16 Sep – 1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Luke 6:43-49; Memorial for St. Cornelius, pope, & Cyprian, bishop, martyrs
Sun, 17 Sep – Isaiah 50:5-9a; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35; Twenty-Fourth 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.

Sunday, Sep 10 – Doing All Things Well

10 Sep – Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord Who Does All Things Well

Today we celebrate our “unbounded admiration for the Lord who makes no distinction between classes of people, but makes the poor rich in faith, the deaf hear and the dumb speak.

– The Sunday Missal
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The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.
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Isaiah 35:4-7

Say to all faint hearts,
“Courage! Do not be afraid,

“Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy;

for water gushes in the desert,
streams in the wasteland,
the scorched earth becomes a lake,
the parched land springs of water.

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James 2:1-5

My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, “Come this way to the best seats”; then you tell the poor man, “Stand over there” or “You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.” Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?

Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.
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Mark 7:31-37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. “He has done all things well,” they said, “he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”
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Why did Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears and touch his tongue with spit? He could have just laid his hand on him, as asked, and he would be healed. But Jesus did physical actions because the man was deaf and could not hear him. His actions were a sign through which he showed his love for the deaf man. In the same way, when Catholics receive the seven sacraments, physical actions accompany all of them, because it is through these physical actions that God shows his love for us.

Sometimes in church, we see people who are well-dressed, and we see people in less-than-well-dressed clothing. Do we shake our head at them because we think they should respect God in their choice of dressing? Remember, in the confessional box, the priest cannot see you. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing when God is loving you.

Sometimes in our daily life and on the road, we see people who are less well-dressed than others, perhaps wearing a bright luminous green vest. Do we see them as people, children of God like us, or are they invisible to us? We smile to our clients and our bosses; do we smile at the bus drivers, the road sweepers, the construction workers, and the security guards? They remember our smiles and will surprise us by remembering us when we next see them. This is what it means for us to be like God by doing all things well.

Why did Jesus tell them not to tell anyone of the miracle? Because that in itself was a lesson he was teaching – that good news cannot be kept secret; it has to be shared with as many people as would listen. In the same way, when we have good news in our lives, we are not able to keep it a secret, but want to share it with others.

We share our good news in different ways. Just the other day, someone shared the good news of God to two non-Christian friends of mine that I’ve known for two years. I’ve never once spoken to them about Jesus, and I was impressed that this person, at his first meeting with them, is already speaking to them about God. On the other hand, I share my good news with other people through my writing, such as reflections like OXYGEN.

Examine your life and see how and where you share good news with others best. Learn to identify it as your way of sharing good news, and focus your efforts on building up that method.
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Prayer: We pray for all Christians to share their good news of Christ with all peoples, regardless of status and standing in life.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Equality in the eyes of God.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 11 Sep – 1 Corinthians 5:1-8; Luke 6:6-11
Tue, 12 Sep – 1 Corinthians 6:1-11; Luke 6:12-19; Most Holy Name of Mary
Wed, 13 Sep – 1 Corinthians 7:25-31; Luke 6:20-26; Memorial for John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor
Thu, 14 Sep – Numbers 21:4b-9 or Philemon 2:6-11; John 3:13-17; Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Fri, 15 Sep – 1 Hebrews 5:7-9; John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35; Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Sat, 16 Sep – 1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Luke 6:43-49; Memorial for St. Cornelius, pope, & Cyprian, bishop, martyrs
Sun, 17 Sep – Isaiah 50:5-9a; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35; Twenty-Fourth 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.