The Lord God called to the man after he had eaten of the tree. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.’
Then the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, ‘Be accursed beyond all cattle, all wild beasts. You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust every day of your life. I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman,your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.’
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
As we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God.
That is why there is no weakening on our part, and instead, though this outer man of ours may be falling into decay, the inner man is renewed day by day. Yes, the troubles which are soon over, though they weigh little, train us for the carrying of a weight of eternal glory which is out of all proportion to them. And so we have no eyes for things that are visible, but only for things that are invisible; for visible things last only for a time, and the invisible things are eternal.
For we know that when the tent that we live in on earth is folded up, there is a house built by God for us, an everlasting home not made by human hands, in the heavens.
Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.
‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’
His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’
“… if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
Last week, I had a conversation with a colleague about leadership styles, and we were discussing the rationale behind a particular type of leadership style that preferred a divided team over a cohesive and united one. This type of leadership not only creates animosity and distrust amongst staff, but the office environment becomes filled with negativity. In such an office, the well-being of each staff is compromised and the quality of work is also affected. Archbishop William, during one of the retreats conducted by him, has cautioned against this style of leadership because it not only reflects negatively on the leader, but because of the effects it has on the employees as well.
Personally, I am someone who hates conflict and I would normally run away when I anticipate conflict coming my way. Being in an office environment like the one described above, I started to see my emotional well-being decline and suffer, especially in the past year. My close friends have encouraged me to resign as they could see that I am no longer happy, not because of the nature of my job, but because of the negativity in the environment. Many people in my office have lost the passion and reason why they started work here, and most end up staying because the pay and benefits are good; but this causes the quality of work to decline. I could see myself going down the same path as my colleagues, as it would be less emotionally draining. However, I found myself fighting this as I could not bring myself to produce a poorer quality of work.
My work was not the only thing in my life that seemed to be affected by such a leadership and office environment. I started becoming irritable and my emotional meter seemed to be hitting a negative, and my family experienced a lot of my outbursts due to a shorter fuse. I also contemplated pulling away from ministry as well because I could sense myself losing my patience as I dealt with certain issues pertaining to the ministry I am in. I started to doubt my capabilities, and the effects of work started to become the truth in my life; and it took me some time to realize how it was affecting me and how I need to move on.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus cautioned against the division of kingdoms and households as it would not sustain during times of difficulty. It is also a reminder not just for leaders, but for everyone, that a division in any setting could have destructive consequences that not only affects one person, but everyone involved. Let us learn to seek cohesion instead of disharmony, and to seek for God’s unity in all that we do.
(Today’s Oxygen by Hannah Huang)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to work towards cohesion as a cord with three strands is not quickly broken. We pray for unity in our lives and in the relationships we form.
Thanksgiving: Dear loving Father, thank you for your gentle mercies and for reminding us that a divided house is detrimental for the wellbeing of all its members.