10 Dec – 2nd Week of Advent
The OXYGEN team would like to invite interested writers to contribute a reflection or two for the Christmas mass readings at the end of this year. If you feel called to put the sharing of your faith into writing, please do drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
The OXYGEN team
‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’
…and go in search of the stray…
As I walk home each night, I take a little longer route through the estate garden. It is a space where I unwind. Here too, is where I meet my estate stray cat, Chloe. Or she waits for me.
Some weeks ago, I noticed her limping crooked gait and her failed attempts to jump up and join me on the park bench. She would fall mid-way on her back – then choose to remain curled up at my feet, refusing to be examined. Her pain was obvious. This happened over some days. I began contacting friends with cats, to borrow a cat basket to take her to the vet. Busy with work during this time, I would return past midnight most days, and heavy rains made the chances of seeing her even harder. Through the day, my thoughts would wander to her as I recalled her painful jump attempts. She was broody and would ignore my attempts to coax her out of her small corner between the bicycles at the void deck. Something was wrong, and I could not help her.
The readings today of God’s protective and nurturing nature – the image of Him as shepherd – brought to my mind the aches and sighs I felt whenever I thought of Chloe in pain. We are made in His likeness. This natural instinct that we possess to protect and fend for a weaker being or creature reveals to us, only in small measure, the longing God holds in His bosom to gather us to Himself and nurse our woundedness with tenderness.
My experience with this cat is such a pale comparison. Yet one thing is for certain, if we know the unceasing love and grace our Father has for us, we would definitely not scowl or hide away in our corners. He is always reaching out to us in myriad ways. The gospel tells us that He is more joyful at the return of that one stray sheep, than the wellbeing and safety of the ninety-nine. Who is that one stray? It could be you, or someone near you who is hurting, or someone who has hurt you.
Yet it might take us however long to acknowledge our need for His rescue and healing, because of our human nature of pride and foolishness. But when we let our defenses down, and gaze into His Holiness, we will find His heart meeting ours swiftly with no hesitation – as the father to his prodigal son and the elder brother.
I have scowled and hidden away from God before. Even when I believed myself to be closest to Him, I eventually discovered that there were still parts of me I was holding back from His healing and love. I don’t know of a more poignant image of Christ – his power and loving vulnerability – than in the face of the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist. He is both Supreme Divinity and Sacrifice, all at once. I am always floored. The other, the beautiful image of the Divine Mercy of Jesus speaks to me of His unmeasured forgiveness and mercy poured out for me. In these two faces of God I found solace, opened up my heart, and began to find healing in my life. Two simple but profound images, disarming and embracing all at once.
One night, after my constant worrying, I sought Chloe out. This time, she managed to jump up on my lap. The same night, the aunty who is her regular feeder, told me she was wounded by a kick from someone. She too, had been nursing Chloe. No “stray one” is left forgotten; no one is less longed for. He wants us all back in His arms. You, me, and everyone who seems unworthy.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Thanksgiving: We thank God for all those who seek out and bring healing to people and creatures in need.
Prayer: Loving Jesus, open my eyes to the wounds in others, so that I may be your instrument of peace this Christmas.