1 June, Friday – Asking

Jun 1 – Memorial for St. Justin, martyr

He was born at the beginning of the second century in Nablus, in Samaria, of a pagan Greek family. He was an earnest seeker after truth, and studied many systems of philosophy before being led, through Platonism, to Christianity. While remaining a layman, he accepted the duty of making the truth known and travelled from place to place, proclaiming the gospel. In 151, he travelled from Ephesus to Rome, where he opened a school of philosophy and wrote defences and expositions of Christianity, which have survived to this day, and are the earliest known writings of their kind. In the persecution of 165, in the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was denounced as a Christian, arrested and beheaded. The transcript of his trial by the prefect of Rome, Rusticus, has also survived: it can be found in today’s Office of Readings.

Justin treats the Greek philosophy that he studied as mostly true, but incomplete. In contrast to the Hebrew tendency to view God as making revelations to them and to no-one else, he follows the parable of the Sower, and sees God as sowing the seed of wisdom throughout the world, to grow wherever the soil would receive it. When we dispute with people who disagree with us, we would do well to assume that they too are seeking wisdom, and have found truth of a kind. Since there is only one God and one Truth, it is our task not to contradict or belittle their achievement, but to show them how their strivings and searches are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. This is harder to do – not least, because we have to take the trouble to understand our own faith thoroughly – but it is ultimately more worthwhile.

– Universalis

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1 Peter 4:7-13

Everything will soon come to an end, so, to pray better, keep a calm and sober mind. Above all, never let your love for each other grow insincere, since love covers over many a sin. Welcome each other into your houses without grumbling. Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory, through Jesus Christ, since to him alone belong all glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

My dear people, you must not think it unaccountable that you should be tested by fire. There is nothing extraordinary in what has happened to you. If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.

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Mark 11:11-26

After he had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’ he said. And his disciples heard him say this.

So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, ‘Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’ This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.

Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. ‘Look, Rabbi,’ he said to Jesus, ‘the fig tree you cursed has withered away.’ Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself into the sea,” with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.’ But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.’

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…everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours.

If only life were so easy. That all we desire, wish for or hope will simply appear before us as long as we ask for it. “Give me a nice house. Give me a good job. Give me a good spouse. Give me a good family.” And ‘poof’, miraculously, we have it all.

Yeah, right.

Because the life we have here is a constant battle to achieve, acquire, attain and then hold on to. We seek happiness in what we have worked hard to acquire all our working life. Then when we ‘retire’ and have to declutter so that we can live more freely, we start to question ourself. We ask whether it was all worth the struggle. Whether at the end of it all, has our life come down to the four walls around us and the three square meals we can afford each day. Whether we will be remembered for what we had, instead of what we gave while we had friends and family to give to.

I want to be remembered for the heart I have, whatever people say it is – generous, giving, joyful, embracing, patient, etc. Mind you, I am still working on just being able to not judge others, so I am extremely far from my goal. Will I ever get there? Not on my own strength but by the grace of God.

Because events of the past few weeks have whittled me down to a blubbering mess at times. The feelings of hopelessness, of letting a loved one down, of not being able to fulfil my promise (especially after discerning His call to be a pillar of support) have left me questioning the very verse that I have been drawn to. Maybe I still cling on to the hope that somehow, during this period of doubt, He will truly provide. But should I dial back my expectations? Surely He will give me all that I ask. But hang on, St Mark writes “believe that you have it already” How do I ask for something that I already have?

I can’t see it. Not right now.

Maybe I need to stop asking and just keep praying in hope.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Lord, I ask you to provide in my hour of need.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for all that you will give to us.

2 thoughts on “1 June, Friday – Asking

  1. This passage is difficult. Why did Jesus curse that fig tree? It was not the time for fruits. You are saying that we should stop asking and keep on praying. For me,both are same.

  2. Hey Eugene, indeed it is not an easy one to figure out. Never thought about asking and praying being the same so will certainly reflect on that. Thank you for your comments.

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