Daily Archives: November 18, 2014

Wednesday, 19 Nov – We Are What We Feed

19 Nov

_________________

Apocalypse 4:1-11

In my vision, I, John, saw a door open in heaven and heard the same voice speaking to me, the voice like a trumpet, saying, ‘Come up here: I will show you what is to come in the future.’ With that, the Spirit possessed me and I saw a throne standing in heaven, and the One who was sitting on the throne, and the Person sitting there looked like a diamond and a ruby. There was a rainbow encircling the throne, and this looked like an emerald. Round the throne in a circle were twenty-four thrones, and on them I saw twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white robes with golden crowns on their heads. Flashes of lightning were coming from the throne, and the sound of peals of thunder, and in front of the throne there were seven flaming lamps burning, the seven Spirits of God. Between the throne and myself was a sea that seemed to be made of glass, like crystal. In the centre, grouped round the throne itself, were four animals with many eyes, in front and behind. The first animal was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third animal had a human face, and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle. Each of the four animals had six wings and had eyes all the way round as well as inside; and day and night they never stopped singing:

‘Holy, Holy, Holy
is the Lord God, the Almighty;
he was, he is and he is to come.’

Every time the animals glorified and honoured and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship the One who lives for ever and ever, and threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying, ‘You are our Lord and our God, you are worthy of glory and honour and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.’

___________________

Luke 19:11-28

While the people were listening, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and they imagined that the kingdom of God was going to show itself then and there. Accordingly he said, ‘A man of noble birth went to a distant country to be appointed king and afterwards return. He summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. “Do business with these” he told them “until I get back.” But his compatriots detested him and sent a delegation to follow him with this message, “We do not want this man to be our king.”

Now on his return, having received his appointment as king, he sent for those servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in and said, “Sir, your one pound has brought in ten.” “Well done, my good servant!” he replied “Since you have proved yourself faithful in a very small thing, you shall have the government of ten cities..” Then came the second and said, “Sir, your one pound has made five.” To this one also he said, “And you shall be in charge of five cities.” Next came the other and said, “Sir, here is your pound. I put it away safely in a piece of linen because I was afraid of you; for you are an exacting man: you pick up what you have not put down and reap what you have not sown.” “You wicked servant!” he said “Out of your own mouth I condemn you. So you knew I was an exacting man, picking up what I have not put down and reaping what I have not sown? Then why did you not put my money in the bank? On my return I could have drawn it out with interest.” And he said to those standing by, “Take the pound from him and give it to the man who has ten pounds.” And they said to him, “But, sir, he has ten pounds . . .” “I tell you, to everyone who has will be given more; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

“But as for my enemies who did not want me for their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence.”’
When he had said this he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

____________________

To everyone who has will be given more; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away

There is an old folk tale which tells the story of an old Cherokee, who says to his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.” The grandson thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

In today’s Gospel story, we see Jesus narrating the parable of a noble man and his servants. Before leaving for a distant country, to be appointed as King,he gives his servants one pound each and tells them to do business with it. Of the ten servants, we learn of one who goes out and earns ten more, while another earns five more. And then we have the last servant who, instead of doing business, decides to hide the one pound entrusted to him instead, for fear of his Master as an “exacting man”. I have always found this parable to be a challenging one. In the parable, the noble man refers to Jesus. Why would he, our Lord of Compassion, regard the frightened servant as a “wicked one” for having failed to invest and multiply his one pound?

The difference lies in the attitudes of the servants. The first two had reacted with faithfulness to the noble man’s command. They invested the little that they had been entrusted with and did not allow doubt or fear to hamper them. They persevered and carried out business on behalf of their master in a town where he was clearly resented by his compatriots and openly renounced as King. It was in this climate of uncertainty (as to whether the noble man would return as King) and hostility that the servants dutifully carried out their master’s bidding. They wavered not in the face of their circumstances, but focused instead on living out the noble man’s command. The third servant, however, was not as steadfast. Frozen by fear and hampered by doubt, he chose instead to put away his one pound, hidden safely in a cloth, out of fear that it would not multiply due to his master’s enemies. He wavered and eventually did nothing, despite the noble man’s unequivocal command.

By this parable, Jesus probably intended to encourage his disciples and remind them especially after his death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven, that although the Kingdom of God is not a physical one (as they had envisioned it to be) but a heavenly one, it is one which they had to carry on building here on Earth. He is reminding them to be like the faithful servants who forged on, even in a climate of uncertainty and hostility, to share the Gospel of hope and the Good News of  God’s love and salvation for mankind.

What does this mean to me? Today’s parable challenges me to re-examine my attitudes and my thoughts as a follower of Christ, especially in the way I approach God and the people around me: do I allow myself to be like the fearful servant, hampered by circumstances and living in fear and doubt of God’s faithfulness? Do I allow anger, anxiety and resentment to stop me from loving God and from sharing His love with others? Do I prevent God from using me as his instrument?

Or do I choose to feed my mind on God’s word and hold fast to his promises instead, remaining steadfast in faith, even in the face of uncertainty? Do I choose to cultivate a grateful heart by thanking and praising God for all that I have everyday, even when my circumstances do not appear to change? Do I choose to be compassionate towards others and treat them with God’s love, in spite of my own afflictions?

My brothers and sisters, like the old Cherokee tale, what we choose to feed within ourselves will grow in the end. We become what we feed. May we pray for the wisdom to choose wisely.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)

________________

Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord for your loving patience and guidance in our lives, even when we have been blind.

Prayer: We pray for the grace to remain faithful as your servants, to spread your love and share the Good News.

Tuesday, 18 Nov – My Beloved, I am Standing Outside, Knocking…

18 Nov 

________________

Apocalypse 3:1-6,14-22

I, John, heard the Lord saying to me: ‘Write to the angel of the church in Sardis and say, “Here is the message of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know all about you: how you are reputed to be alive and yet are dead. Wake up; revive what little you have left: it is dying fast. So far I have failed to notice anything in the way you live that my God could possibly call perfect, and yet do you remember how eager you were. when you first heard the message? Hold on to that. Repent. If you do not wake up, I shall come to you like a thief, without telling you at what hour to expect me. There are a few in Sardis, it is true, who have kept their robes from being dirtied, and they are fit to come with me, dressed in white. Those who prove victorious will be dressed, like these, in white robes; I shall not blot their names out of the book of life, but acknowledge their names in the presence of my Father and his angels. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

  ‘Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, “Here is the message of the Amen, the faithful, the true witness, the ultimate source of God’s creation: I know all about you: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, but since you are neither, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. You say to yourself, ‘I am rich, I have made a fortune, and have everything I want’, never realising that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too. I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you really rich, and white robes to clothe you and cover your shameful nakedness, and eye ointment to put on your eyes so that you are able to see. I am the one who reproves and disciplines all those he loves: so repent in real earnest. Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him. Those who prove victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I was victorious myself and took my place with my Father on his throne. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”’

________________

Luke 19:1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance: he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: ‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. ‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’ they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.’

________________

Today salvation has come to this house… for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.

As it always is with the drawing close of every year, we begin to take stock of everything that has happened to us and around us. Even the one who claims not to believe in making New Year’s resolutions, will inevitably make mental notes of what he/she hopes will be different and better in the coming year. Nobody wants to be in the same place, or the same person when the curtains fall. There is no need for clever psychology articles about personality types who can or cannot embrace change. Every one of us is intuitively hard-wired to desire becoming a better person. Even the most obstinate and self-righteous soul in the room secretly harbours this hope, “if only change isn’t that challenging.”

As we approach Advent, our Scripture readings begin to hark on the end times – the fairest and most definitive destination of death. For our own lives, as it is for the world. We are reminded that Christ has come, and Christ will come again. That is why, the Book of Apocalypse prophesizes, ‘Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him. Those who prove victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I was victorious myself and took my place with my Father on his throne. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying…’

If one of you hears me calling and opens the door… 

This calls forth a very strong imagery for me – of servants huddling behind the door of a ramshackle hut where they are taking cover after a post-apocalyptic decade of natural disasters, famine, wars, civil strive and devastation. They could be us – the last few ones. Here we are, having persevered against the worst, counting down our weeks, days, and minutes – until a series of knocks raps the door.

I wonder if I would be the servant who walks confidently forth and throws the door open, or the fifth guy at the back trying my lamest best to seek coverage from the next trembling soul in front. Frankly, I realised I could be either. But what I wholeheartedly desire, is to be the first man to unlock the door and fling it wide open so that the Light may come in.

And it takes courage. It especially takes a persistent and constant self-searching that does not surrender to slothfulness, to change for one’s own good.

Jesus inviting himself into Zacchaeus’ house for a meal is a prefiguration of the Apocalyptic rap on the door, “The hour has come, will you join me?” If Zacchaeus had not already privately acknowledged and figured out that he wanted a radical transformation in his own despicable life, he may have climbed to the top of the tree only to satisfy mere curiosity. However, upon Jesus’ request, he humbly and generously receives Him into his home – ‘And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully.’ Zacchaeus did not self-righteously deny the request for hospitality from Jesus. Instead he throws a fine feast and declares publicly his decision to restore to all whom he had wronged and ill-treated, many times more.

This is not a mere ‘returning’ of what was due to others, but an utter conversion of Zacchaeus’ soul that causes him to renounce his own past! This transformation occurred because Zacchaeus not only received Jesus into his home; more precisely, he flung open his heart’s doors to admit Jesus’ Love and Divine Mercy into his soul. This is why Jesus exclaims, ‘Today salvation has come to this house.” This ‘house’ is more than a physical dwelling. Jesus was referring to our Soul – the house in which He longs to dwell.

As I approach Advent, I really need the grace of God to enfold me and draw me closer into His Sacred Heart of Divine Love and Mercy. Advent is a time when we prepare to receive Christ, the Word Incarnate, into our lives… Jesus is coming to us, the Holy Spirit is hovering like a dove above our ‘houses’… are we ready to step forth, open our doors and say, “Come, Lord Jesus”…?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

________________

Thanksgiving: I am grateful for the grace God has given me to open my eyes once again to recognise my flaws and weaknesses, to show me where I need to improve – that I can make the choice to grow into a better version of me.

Prayer: I seek Your forgiveness Lord for the many times I have hurt You, turned my back from You, or bolted my door shut. It still takes so much courage to say “Yes, come in Lord Jesus”, but I know Your grace covers all my inadequacies, and I surrender all.