13 February – Saturday after Ash Wednesday
The Lord says this:
If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you,
giving you relief in desert places.
He will give strength to your bones
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never run dry.
You will rebuild the ancient ruins,
build up on the old foundations.
You will be called ‘Breach-mender’,
‘Restorer of ruined houses.’
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
and doing business on the holy day,
if you call the Sabbath ‘Delightful’,
and the day sacred to the Lord ‘Honourable’,
if you honour it by abstaining from travel,
from doing business and from gossip,
then shall you find your happiness in the Lord
and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land.
I will feed you on the heritage of Jacob your father.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him.
In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’
then shall you find your happiness in the Lord.
In my life, I often find myself stuck in certain problems and issues that I struggle to get out of. Sometimes the problems can get out of hand and balloon into something big. By the grace of God, someone or something will come along to remind me to let go and let God take over. That is when the Lord works His miracles and helps me to find a way out.
Like the lyrics of an old hymn, “All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me”, God is truly faithful to each one of us. If only we are open to Him.
We are all sinners, and in our pilgrim journey on this earth, we often struggle to keep on the path. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak as we often read in scripture. But the Lord never fails to assure us of His faithfulness and mercy. All we have to do, as the first reading tells us, is to “do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word”. We need to deny ourselves and decrease, so that the Lord can increase in our lives.
Like a good shepherd, the Lord guides us in the desert. Hence, when we find ourselves lost in our problems in life, He guides us and gives us the strength to persevere and press on till we find a solution.
And He is faithful to the end — all we have to do is to turn away from sin. Again the first reading tells us, “If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, and doing business on the holy day…then shall you find your happiness in the Lord and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land”.
But we are also called because we are sinners. The Lord said in today’s gospel that he came to call sinners, not the virtuous. As Archbishop William Goh often quips, only the sick need doctors, not the healthy.
So even if we falter and stumble in our lives, let us not give in to discouragement. But trust in His faithfulness and mercy which are new every morning.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we in this season of Lent, recognise your faithfulness in our lives. Help us to rest assured of Your Spirit that is with us as You have promised. When we struggle, enable us to allow Your hand to take over and cooperate with Your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
Thanksgiving: Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness and mercy, which are new every morning. Thank You for being with us in our struggles in life. Help us to be grateful for Your Holy Spirit who gives us peace.