24 July – Memorial for St. Charbel Makhluf, Priest
St. Charbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, St. Charbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice and prayer by the way he lived his life.
The Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’
The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ the Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’
Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No,’ he replied ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ Again Abraham said to him, ‘Perhaps there will only be forty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’
Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the twenty.’ He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the ten.’
You have been buried with Christ, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.
He has overridden the Law, and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross.
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray:
“Father, may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come;
give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test.”’
He also said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
…how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
We were asked earlier this year to help with our parish fundraising activities and in expectant faith, I said ‘Yes’. Strangely, I wasn’t perturbed nor did I feel daunted by the task ahead to raise the final 40% needed in order to complete our church building annex. I truly believed that the Lord would send us angels along the way and true enough, for each major project that we have started planning for, somehow, we have been blessed by generous, caring parishioners who have rallied to help out.
We even have an artist who is based in the United States helping us with designs for a calendar that we never thought would see the light of day. I remember the day we discovered her work on Pinterest. G asked if we should just go ahead and approach her. My reply was, “We will never know till we ask. We have nothing to lose.” And lo and behold, we made the connection and it turns out that the artist flies into Singapore regularly to help out at OYP (Office of the Young People). Indeed, God has His way of working things out for us, his sons and daughters. All we need to do is to ask.
But most of the time, I find that we are too afraid to ask. We tend to rationalize away the probability of success by imposing our human will (negative at that) on a situation. I have found myself encouraging other subcommittee members to ‘have faith’ more often in the past few months. Don’t ask me where it comes from. It is more than a mantra, for me, it is what keeps me going each time we hit a roadblock or a hurdle. There is no denying that we must put in our human effort and make sacrifices of time and, in some cases, money. But at some point, we must also remember that our endeavours on this earth are not solely ours. For we are all part of a divine plan, something that no one can fathom nor control.
So brothers and sisters, for whatever issues, challenges or burdens we all face on a daily basis, let us learn to ask the Lord for His divine intervention and for Him to work his wonders on our lives. How we do it is really up to each one of us to determine. But we can always start with the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come…” It is a prayer that we know by heart and recite each week at mass. Next time you recite it, believe that He will indeed give us all that we need in order to live the life that He has chosen for each and every one of us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Thanksgiving: Lord, we give thanks to You for our lives, our families, our friends, our colleagues, our challenges, our burdens and our daily crosses.