7 September, Friday – Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

7 September

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1 Corinthians 4:1-5

People must think of us as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God. What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust. Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not. I will not even pass judgement on myself. True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my judge. There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes; he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts. Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.

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Luke 5:33-39

The Pharisees and scribes said to Jesus, ‘John’s disciples are always fasting and saying prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees too, but yours go on eating and drinking.’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely you cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come, the time for the bridegroom to be taken away from them; that will be the time when they will fast.’

He also told them this parable, ‘No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.

‘And nobody puts new wine into old skins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost. No; new wine must be put into fresh skins. And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. “The old is good” he says.’

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Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time before the Lord comes

Prompted by my Spiritual Director a few months back, I started to take art lessons. I took art as a subject back in school and since then, never drew again until that one afternoon at the retreat centre. Unable to reflect or journal anymore, I found myself in the art room of the centre and started doodling an image of The Good Shepherd, it being Good Shepherd Sunday. That drawing turned out pretty alright, I felt. So my art journey started again. I have been painting now for 4 months.

Out of the many art studios here, I was led to this particular studio. It is run by a lovely Christian lady. From Day One, I felt that this was the hand of God. The owner of the studio shared her story of how her studio came about — for someone who really need not work (she obviously is well to do), and for someone who had no formal art training. It started with a desire in her heart. She wanted to provide a little pocket money for a family who was struggling. Sure, she could have asked her husband for the money but she really wanted to do this on her own. So she prayed about it – and that’s how her studio started. Today, she continues to provide for this family and, through her studio, she has been able to do so much more for the kingdom of God. What an inspiration that has been for me, for I too have been praying and searching for a mission, and how I can use the gifts that God has blessed me for His Kingdom.

At this time in my life, I am also going through some pretty drastic life changes. It’s a time of detachments to my ideals of what my life should be. Painful and uncomfortable as it is, I know that this is where the Lord is leading me and I have to be open. But even as I ponder upon it, I thought about my teacher. Sure it’s easy for these rich people to do more, right? They have the resources to do so. I built this image of her in my mind – where she lived, and the people she’s exposed to – easy for her to live out her mission. We all judge others – like in today’s first reading. As God’s servant, Paul must not be judged by human standards.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that she casually mentioned that she and her husband live in the public housing flats nearby. I was completely floored! All this while I thought she lived in a swanky house in some swanky district. She had. Until at some point, they felt that they were going to be more pragmatic. Not that they were unable to afford it. Something she said struck a chord with me, ‘Do not live according to the ideals of others but live for yourself.’ Her rich friends and her husband’s banking fraternity all thought that they must have run into financial difficulties to make the switch to public housing. But she shared that this change has given her so much more freedom and joy. She is blessed to be doing something she is passionate about, make a little money but more importantly bless others.

When we pray and ask God to show us our life’s mission; when we say ‘We surrender!’ are we ready to allow Him to pull the rug from under you? Can we allow God to work through us and use us in His mission field, and ignore how our secular society rates and judges us? I am slowly letting go and learning not to let others’ ideals of what my life and work should be rule me – as long as it pleases my God. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: God, as we pray today, we ask you to show us our vocations and life missions, give us the courage and steadfastness to move forward, according to your will. Help us to live not just for ourselves, or by others’ standards. May our lives be pleasing to you, Lord.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for your love and your providence. For counting us worthy to serve in your vineyard.  

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