Daily Archives: September 20, 2006

Thursday, Sep 21 – An Open & Loving Relationship

21 Sep – Feast of St. Matthew, apostle, evangelist

Matthew was a tax gatherer, born at Capernaum, called by Jesus, for whom he left everything and turned to a new life. His Gospel was written in Hebrew. Tradition tells that he preached in the East.

– the Weekday Missal
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Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13

I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear wit one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.

Each one of us, however, has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it. And to some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unit in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself.
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Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus was walking on he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When he heard this he replied, “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.”
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Sometimes when chatting with other Catholics, we hear things like, “I don’t know where God is calling me to serve.” The first thing that pops into my mind when I hear this is, “Are you listening?”

We often think that unless we are serving God in some way, we are not good Christians. We develop a guilty complex and try to find some way that we can serve God in. But often, this type of service doesn’t last long, because God is not the focus of the service; we are. We serve because we feel bad that we are not serving.

As a continuation from yesterday’s sharing, service is nothing without love. The first and most important thing is to have a loving and open relationship with God, one in which you can talk to God and he listens, and in which he talks to you and you listen. Obviously this means having quiet time for prayer everyday, if possible. God’s not going to pounce on you when you miss a day because you’re tired and can’t focus. But the important thing here is that the focus is on God, not on ourselves.

Only in an open relationship in which all things can be honestly shared between you and God can you slowly begin to discover where God is calling you. Today’s readings are not the only ones that tell us that each of us has a specific place in the Body of Christ that has been reserved for us; only we can fit that role perfectly, no one else can.

The difficulty of course is finding out what that role is. What are some of the reasons that we cannot find where God is calling us to? As mentioned, the first is lack of prayer and a open and loving relationship with God. The second reason we find in the gospel reading of the day.

When God chooses a person for a certain role, he deliberately chooses the unqualified, or at least those who know that they are unqualified. This is so that his glory can make itself known in their service. A person who knows he is qualified, or even overqualified will be tempted to depend on their own qualifications to get the job done. It then becomes something which comes from himself or herself, and not from the loving relationship with God.

This is why when we try to discern where God is calling us to, we must make God the centre of our discernment, not ourselves. By being loving, that is, directing our love towards God, we focus our attention on God, not ourselves. By being open, we give God the necessary quiet time and space each day to speak to us, telling us each day how he is calling us to serve him.

Discernment isn’t a one-off thing; it’s a life-time thing. Every day, we are called to discern how God is calling us to serve him. Thus, every day, we must try to reserve some quiet time to spend with God, to nurture this open and loving relationship with him. Only then will we know just how God is calling us to serve him with love.
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Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help us to manage our priorities. Give us time to sit down with you, to sort out what’s really important in our lives, and to find out where we place you in our lives. Help us to realise how much we need you, and with your Holy Spirit guiding us, teach us how to manage our time better, so that we can always reserve some time each day to spend with you. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Telling me what he wants my relationship with him to be.

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, 22 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 8:1-3
Sat, 23 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49; Luke 8:4-15; Memorial for St. Pio of Pietrelcina, priest
Sun, 24 Sep – Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16 – 4:3; Mark 9:30-37; Twenty-Fifth 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.

Wednesday, Sep 20 – A Lesson On Love

20 Sep – Memorial for Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon & companions, Paul Chong Hasang, martyrs

I apologise for the very late OXYGEN. Wednesday was an extremely hectic day and there was not half an hour that I could squeeze in to peacefully reflect on the day’s readings until late at night. Thank you for your understanding.

Peace,
Catholic Writer
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Andrew Kim Taegon (d. 1846) was of Korean nobility. His parents were converts and his father was eventually martyred. Andrew was baptized at 15, then travelled 1,300 miles to the nearest seminary in Macao. He became Korea’s first native priest, and the first priest to die for the faith in Korea. He was the leader of the Martyrs of Korea, a group of 103 priests, missionaries, and lay people who died in the early days of the Church in Korea. Most were murdered during waves of persecution in 1839, 1846, and 1867.

He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 6, 1984. At his canonization, the pope said, “The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these many martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today’s splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians of the Church of Silence in the north of this tragically divided land.”

Paul Chong Hasang (1795-1839) was also canonized on the same day. He was the son of Yak Jong Church who was martyred in 1801 in the persecution of Shin-Yu, an attack on the faith that killed all the clergy in the country. He was also the son of St. Yu Cecilia, and brother of St. Jung Hye.

Paul, though he was a layman, reunited the scattered Christians, and encouraged them to keep their faith and live their faith. He wrote the Sang-Je-Sang-Su which explained to the Korean government why the Church was no threat to them. He crossed into China nine times, working as a servant to the Korean diplomatic corps. Once there, he worked to get the bishop of Beijing to send more priests to Korea. He pleaded directly to Rome for help, and on Sep 9, 1831, Pope Gregory X proclaimed the validity of the Korean Catholic diocese.

When the clergy began to return, Paul entered the seminary. However, he died in the Gi Hye persecution of 1839 before he could be ordained. He was one of the great founders of the Catholic Church in Korea.

Prayer:

O God, you have created all nations and you are their salvation. In the land of Korea, your call to Catholic faith formed a people of adoption, whose growth you nurtured by the blood of Andrew, Paul, and their companions. Through their martyrdom and their intercession, grant us strength that we too may remain faithful to your commandments even until death. Amen.

– Source: Patron Saint Index
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1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13

Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.

If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I a a man, all childish ways are put behind me. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall known as fully as I am known.

In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.
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Since September 15, the newspapers have carried about three to four articles a day on the pope’s comments on holy war during his address at the University of Resenburg in Germany. First we have the pope saying something that perhaps he shouldn’t have, then we have had the response of the Muslim communities around the world.

In some countries, they called for an apology, but in other countries, violence emerged. Churches were attacked, and the pope’s life was threatened as well. The Vatican first responded but this was insufficient to pacify the Islam world who still called for the pope to make a personal apology, which he did on September 17.

This morning, I spoke to an imam (equivalent of parish priest for Catholics) about the situation, and I was genuinely surprised to find that he “made excuses” for the pope, such as perhaps the pope has not had much exposure to Muslims, or that he was misinformed, etc. Then, as I reflect on today’s first reading, I realised that I was taught a lesson on love for the pope by a Muslim.

Someone once said to me that today’s passage on love is unattainable; it is an ideal that we have no way of ever achieving in our relationships. I find that this is not true. St. Paul, in this passage, is speaking particularly of our love for God and his love for us. This love that we have for God must be the centre of our relationship with him. Only from this relationship does serving God do any good.

It is easy to serve God. Just go to any parish and join a ministry, and you can start serving God. But to serve God with love is quite another story altogether. We cannot serve God with love unless we first love God, which implies that we must have a loving relationship with God.

A relationship is not built up overnight. It takes time and effort on our part to cultivate and nurture our relationship with God. It involves communication and most importantly, quality time spent with him, in prayer, and in reading and reflection on the Word of God. By doing this, we begin to know God (not just knowing about him) better, and we will be more in tuned with what he wants of us.

St. Paul provides us with guidelines on what love is, for us to look at ourselves and identify the areas in our life that we are not loving him as fully as we can. When we die, our soul will leave our earthly body, and then we will see God face to face. When we do, our love for him will become perfect. All our gifts will no longer be important. Our faith will be fulfilled, our hope realized, and our love perfected in God.
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Prayer:
Dear Jesus, we pray for your grace to fill us and your Holy Spirit to teach us to love in a more perfect way. We know that you are always ready to give us your grace, and we pray that we might be able to use that grace to love as you love us and want us to love others. Help us, dear Jesus, to become perfect in love, just as our heavenly Father is perfect in love. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: An encounter with a loving person.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 21 Sep – Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; Matthew 9:9-13; Feast of St. Matthew, apostle, evangelist
Fri, 22 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 8:1-3
Sat, 23 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49; Luke 8:4-15; Memorial for St. Pio of Pietrelcina, priest
Sun, 24 Sep – Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16 – 4:3; Mark 9:30-37; Twenty-Fifth 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.