2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Now here, brothers, is the news of the grace of God which was given in the churches in Macedonia; and of how, throughout great trials by suffering, their constant cheerfulness and their intense poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity. I can swear that they gave not only as much as they could afford, but far more, and quite spontaneously, begging and begging us for the favour of sharing in this service to the saints and, what was quite unexpected, they offered their own selves first to God and, under God, to us.
Because of this, we have asked Titus, since he has already made a beginning, to bring this work of mercy to the same point of success among you. You always have the most of everything – of faith, of eloquence, of understanding, of keenness for any cause, and the biggest share of our affection – so we expect you to put the most into this work of mercy too. It is not an order that I am giving you; I am just testing the genuineness of your love against the keenness of others. Remember how generous the Lord Jesus was: he was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
But I say to your, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
Some months ago, I found myself gradually straying away from a group of friends – people whom I grew up with over the years. The group dynamics seemed to have changed and I found myself disagreeing more and more with them. Our mindsets seemed to have become poles apart. Initially, I wondered if it was because they had changed. I found it more and more difficult to love them and accept them for who they were, but then I realised it was because I too had changed and they were also learning to adjust to me.
I am sure all of us have people whom we find it difficult to accept or love, simply because we do not condone their actions, have different values or are appalled at their mindsets or behaviour. They may end up being people whom we clash with in the office or at school, or people whom we constantly struggle and argue with at home. They become our crosses because we find it a challenge to co-exist peacefully with them.
However, I am reminded by today’s Gospel that God is just and fair to all. He does not discriminate by making the sun shine only on the good, but on the bad and the good alike. I realised that’s because as long as we are here on earth, our time is not up yet and all of us are still works-in-progress. Our challenge is to learn how to help one another grow, by our experiences or even by our differences. We are challenged to keep an open mind about the individual who is vastly different from us, challenged to respect and learn more about that person’s life experience and to look beyond what we perceive him or her to be.
Overtime, we learn the best ways or methods of dealing with certain people constructively and more importantly, we discover truths about ourselves.
Look at it from a different perspective – are we currently an obstacle to someone else becoming Christ-like? Are we currently an obstacle to that person’s growth? Have we persecuted or condemned others consciously by our actions and the judgments we’ve passed? Have we become another’s “enemy”?
If so, let us not become the cause for someone else’s stumbling, but strive instead to become instruments of growth for ourselves and for others.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: We pray for those who are being persecuted, that God may grant them the strength and wisdom in dealing with their persecutors.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for people who have given us their love.
Wed, 15 Jun – 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; Matthew 6:1-6; Matthew 6:1-6.16-18
Thu, 16 Jun – 2 Corinthians 11:1-11; Matthew 6:7-15
Fri, 17 Jun – 2 Corinthians 11:18.21-30; Matthew 6:19-23
Sat, 18 Jun – 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Matthew 6:24-34
Sun, 19 Jun – Exodus 34:4-6.8-9; 3 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18; Trinity Sunday