17 April, Monday – Fear Not

17 Apr 2017

Monday within Octave of Easter
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Acts 2:14,22-33

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.
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Matthew 28:8-15

Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’

While they were on their way, some of the guard went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened. These held a meeting with the elders and, after some discussion, handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, ‘This is what you must say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” And should the governor come to hear of this, we undertake to put things right with him ourselves and to see that you do not get into trouble.’ The soldiers took the money and carried out their instructions, and to this day that is the story among the Jews.
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Do not be afraid.

I recently reconnected with an old friend and was quite surprised by how he appeared to have changed drastically since the last time I met him a few years ago. While outwardly, he seemed alright, I could sense a very negative aura around him; one that was rooted in fear and doubt. So I took the opportunity to invite him to one of our regular Friday growth sessions at CSC to help him reconnect with God and to help him discern how fear was enslaving him and not allowing him to live freely as a child of God.

So far,  over the past few weeks, I have been journeying with him (mainly via WhatsApp) to see how he is doing and whether he is at least beginning to appreciate God’s hand in his life. Happily, he has managed to make an appointment with a priest to get his house blessed and is open to perhaps attending the next Conversion Experience Retreat in August. I continue to pray for him and to ask God to watch over him each day as he starts to come out of the ‘darkness’ that I perceived he was trapped in.

Fr Erbin, our spiritual director at CSC, has a favorite word that he likes to utter. “Courage,” he always says to the congregation as he urges us to die to ourselves and to learn to appreciate how God constantly forms us in our various ministries. He has also openly shared his own weaknesses and challenges and is certainly not afraid nor ashamed to admit his sinfulness and his fears. Amazingly, his weekly homilies/talks never fail to uplift me and steel me to face my own daily challenges. Indeed, his Stations of the Cross over the last 3 weeks of Lent moved me tremendously and allowed the Lord to reveal how I have been crippled by fear, as He invited me to deepen my journey with Him in my ministry.

Brothers and sisters, we all know that fear and anxiety are not of God. They are the tools of the evil one and, if we scoff at them (which I did before), they can take root in us and lead us down a very dangerous and rocky path. At the recent CER, I was comforted by a verse I picked up when the Lord exhorted that I should not be afraid and that I should hope in Him so that I could soar as if on eagle’s wings. Lo and behold, we sang ‘Spirit Wings’ that very day as I let go of my fears and, in my heart, made another definite ‘Yes’ in answer to the call that I was discerning for a long time.

Since then, my journey continues to open up new avenues and has led me down many different paths with people I would never have associated with nor even spoken about God to. I continue to be amazed at His providence and His generosity as He leads me down an unknown road filled with mystery. Yes, this relationship with our Father is indeed a mystery and goes beyond human comprehension. All He asks is for us to surrender to His love and graces. And to not fear but to trust. For He is knocking at the door of our hearts and the doorknob is inside. He is waiting for us to open the door.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Lord, we pray that you give us the desire to trust in you fully so that you can fulfil in us the plan for your Church.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your constant faithfulness.

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