26 July – Sts. Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Virgin Mary
By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary’s father and mother come to us through legend and tradition. It was the parents of Mary who nurtured Mary, taught her, brought her up to be a worthy Mother of God. It was their teaching that led her to respond to God’s request with faith, “Let it be done to me as you will.” It was their example of parenting that Mary must have followed as she brought up her own son, Jesus. It was their faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed her to stand by the cross as her son was crucified and still believe. Such parents can be examples and models for all parents.
The Lord said to me:
Say this word to the people:
‘Tears flood my eyes
night and day, unceasingly,
since a crushing blow falls on the daughter of my people,
a most grievous injury.
If I go into the countryside,
there lie men killed by the sword;
if I go into the city,
I see people sick with hunger;
even prophets and priests
plough the land: they are at their wit’s end.’
‘Have you rejected Judah altogether?
Does your very soul revolt at Zion?
Why have you struck us down without hope of cure?
We were hoping for peace – no good came of it!
For the moment of cure – nothing but terror!
the Lord, we do confess our wickedness
and our fathers’ guilt:
we have indeed sinned against you.
For your name’s sake do not reject us,
do not dishonour the throne of your glory.
Remember us; do not break your covenant with us.
Can any of the pagan Nothings make it rain?
Can the heavens produce showers?
No, it is you, the Lord.
O our God, you are our hope,
since it is you who do all this.’
Leaving the crowds, Jesus went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
You alone have done all these things.
The world has been undergoing tremendous turmoil of late. We read of terror attacks in France, Turkey, India and even closer to home, in Malaysia. Financial markets are fluctuating with no sign of stability in sight and the mass migration of refugees is a real concern, especially in Europe. Amidst all this, one wonders whether or not our God is indeed present and why He allows all these atrocities to happen.
At mass this weekend, our parish priest gave us a mantra to take home. He quoted from Philippians 4:5 and said that all we needed were four words, “The Lord is near.” He repeated it many times and made us all repeat it with him so that the phrase would sink into our minds. Indeed, brothers and sisters, the Lord is near at hand. In face, it is in these troubled times that we must learn to lean on Him even more. Yet, we tend to forget and even shun mass, opting for a much more enjoyable brunch or long lunch, then feeling tired at the end of a work week and telling ourselves that we need to rest at home rather than to ‘fight’ with parking at church or the wardens who seem to have no sense of direction in directing traffic flow.
But wait, surely Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for us and gave up his life for all of us deserves much more than a cursory hour every weekend. All He asks of us is some quiet time with Him so that we can learn to discern and start to understand why He sacrificed himself for each and every one of us. And why at times when we are down and the situation seems hopeless, somehow, a small miracle presents itself or a door opens to an opportunity.
We spend too much time and effort worrying about the wrong things. Easy for some of us to say perhaps; yet, when you look back at your life and reflect on all those times when you have been rescued, bailed out or had a tough situation suddenly resolve itself, who do you think has been there for you? Who is the one who prompted a family member, colleague, or even a kind stranger to lend a helping hand? To reach out to you and say, “Let me help you”?
The Lord is indeed near.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Lord, we want to experience your saving touch and feel your presence each and every day of our lives. Show us how to discern your presence and reveal to us your hand in our lives.
Thanksgiving: Lord, we give thanks to You for the many times we witness Your works through friends, family and others.