The Lord spoke to Moses. He said:
‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:
‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
‘“You must not steal nor deal deceitfully or fraudulently with your neighbour. You must not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God. I am the Lord. You must not exploit or rob your neighbour. You must not keep back the labourer’s wage until next morning. You must not curse the dumb, nor put an obstacle in the blind man’s way, but you must fear your God. I am the Lord.
‘“You must not be guilty of unjust verdicts. You must neither be partial to the little man nor overawed by the great; you must pass judgement on your neighbour according to justice. You must not slander your own people, and you must not jeopardise your neighbour’s life. I am the Lord. You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”
‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’
The command of the Lord is clear, it gives light to the eyes.
I remember observing my first Lent in 2009. Back then, my major sins were of over-indulgence in food and watching porn. I had many desires and struggled with keeping them in check. In the Bible it says, “Shake off all your sins – it is the Lord who speaks – and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” And so with great resolve, I put myself on a moderate diet (2 meals a day). I also roped in my dad to keep me from watching porn. This lasted for the month of Lent and was incredibly cleansing. I slimmed down, had better complexion, and there was even light in my eyes. All those around me, and even my parish priest noticed the change and complimented me on it.
“You must fear the Lord,” the Bible says. My experience tells me this is true. I used to think that love would be a better word for God; but fear has its purposes. Fear only comes when God is someone you look up to for His immense goodness. Fear teaches obedience to His commandments, which are set down for our own good. When you adhere to his rules, the change you see in yourself and your surroundings will be great, as I myself have experienced.
A good way to do this is to pick a commandment and start from there. This year, in my observance for Lent, I will practice being less judgmental and more loving to the people around me, especially my family. I will listen deeply and respond affirmatively to create love where love may be lacking. As it is said, “You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” Maybe you, the reader, can pick a commandment too!
(Today’s OXYGEN by Serene Goh)
Prayer: Dear Lord, teach me to trust in your ways and follow your laws with obedience.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for giving me fruits to my labor.