Daily Archives: February 18, 2019

19 February, Tuesday – God is my GPS

19 February 2019

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Genesis 6:5-8,7:1-5,10

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that the thoughts in his heart fashioned nothing but wickedness all day long. The Lord regretted having made man on the earth, and his heart grieved. ‘I will rid the earth’s face of man, my own creation,’ the Lord said ‘and of animals also, reptiles too, and the birds of heaven; for I regret having made them.’ But Noah had found favour with the Lord.

The Lord said to Noah, ‘Go aboard the ark, you and all your household, for you alone among this generation do I see as a good man in my judgement. Of all the clean animals you must take seven of each kind, both male and female; of the unclean animals you must take two, a male and its female (and of the birds of heaven also, seven of each kind, both male and female), to propagate their kind over the whole earth. For in seven days’ time I mean to make it rain on the earth for forty days and nights, and I will rid the earth of every living thing that I made.’ Noah did all that the Lord ordered.

Seven days later the waters of the flood appeared on the earth.

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Mark 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to take any food and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then he gave them this warning, ‘Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ And they said to one another, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And Jesus knew it, and he said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ They answered, ‘Twelve.’ ‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ And they answered, ‘Seven.’ Then he said to them, ‘Are you still without perception?’

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“Do you still not understand?”

I love the GPS I have in my car. It has pretty cool graphics and a very soothing voice-over. Most of all, it has been a life-saver from the countless times I sat clueless trying to figure out where my destinations were, or when I find myself trying to find the quickest possible way to get to where I am going and worrying that I would not make it there in time. I love it also for the times my GPS has steered me away from endless frustrations and hours lost, getting caught in jams.

As great as these features of my GPS may be, there is one aspect which I love even more… for all the times I have taken a wrong turn, and trust me, there are plenty of those despite the best efforts of my GPS, it does this wonderful thing – it recalculates the route to get me back on track.

God is my GPS and He recalculates my route for me for the countless times that I have taken a wrong turn. And the fact that I still take wrong turns despite having such wonderful technology at my service, is due to no fault of the GPS, but to my lack of attention, to my confusion, to my stubbornness and pride (for the times I said to myself against my GPS “nah … I am pretty sure it was this way when I drove on this road 20 years ago”,) only to discover, that a certain part of Singapore has since changed beyond recognition.

God is the divine navigator in our lives and he has an in-built Google Map that is accurate and updated at every second; in fact, He is the Google map. When we turn to him and allow Him to lead us (and this is usually the big IF in our lives), we get to our destination safely, efficiently and in precise time. We will not encounter any undue traffic jams (although traffic jams will always be around, which we cannot avoid because of sin in this world), and we will not waste ‘fuel’ in terms of emotional, physical and spiritual energy wasted along the way. And, of course, most importantly, we get to the place we are supposed to get to – the places in our lives where God’s presence can be found and experienced. With God as our GPS, we get to our ultimate final destination – the bosom of God himself, when we complete our earthly road-trip.

My GPS is also infinitely patient with me – regardless of how many times I make a wrong turn, especially for the times I choose to disregard it. It does not scold me or mock me, nor give up on me (I trust your GPS system is the same?) – it simply recalculates. It finds the new path which I need to take, even if sometimes, a U-turn may be needed. It shows me how to get back on track. It stays true to its purpose and mission – which is to get me to my destination.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father help us. Our lives are confusing and complicated, our wills are stubborn and prideful, our world is full of deception, temptation, dangers and perils. Our souls are tired and battered and we often feel like not carrying on in the journey. It is easy to get lost, discouraged and tempted to stray away from you. We need you to recalculate our way back to you, our true north, where we can always find light, hope, clarity, strength and salvation. Where we can come home to you – our Father who loves us and rejoice that we have arrived safely back into your arms.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you the gifts of your love for us, of your Son, the Holy Spirit, our Blessed Mother Mary, the Saints and the sacramental life of the Catholic faith. In these you have given us the GPS we need to bring us safely back to you in all the cross-oads of our lives and for when we make the final journey back to you.

18 February, Monday – Yes, God does demand the best from us

18 February 2019

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Genesis 4:1-15,25

The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. ‘I have acquired a man with the help of the Lord’ she said. She gave birth to a second child, Abel, the brother of Cain. Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil. Time passed and Cain brought some of the produce of the soil as an offering for the Lord, while Abel for his part brought the first-born of his flock and some of their fat as well. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering. But he did not look with favour on Cain and his offering, and Cain was very angry and downcast. The Lord asked Cain, ‘Why are you angry and downcast? If you are well disposed, ought you not to lift up your head? But if you are ill disposed, is not sin at the door like a crouching beast hungering for you, which you must master?’ Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out’; and while they were in the open country, Cain set on his brother Abel and killed him.

The Lord asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I do not know’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s guardian?’ ‘What have you done?’ the Lord asked. ‘Listen to the sound of your brother’s blood, crying out to me from the ground. Now be accursed and driven from the ground that has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood at your hands. When you till the ground it shall no longer yield you any of its produce. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer over the earth.’ Then Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear. See! Today you drive me from this ground. I must hide from you, and be a fugitive and a wanderer over the earth. Why, whoever comes across me will kill me!’ ‘Very well, then,’ the Lord replied ‘if anyone kills Cain, sevenfold vengeance shall be taken for him.’ So the Lord put a mark on Cain, to prevent whoever might come across him from striking him down.

Adam had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she named Seth, ‘because God has granted me other offspring’ she said ‘in place of Abel, since Cain has killed him.’

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Mark 8:11-13

The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ And leaving them again and re-embarking, he went away to the opposite shore.

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“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, for your burnt offerings are before me always.”

In my reflection today, I point to another parable that is probably very well-known to us – that of the Widow’s offering of the 2 coins found in Mark 12:41-44. In that parable, the message is clear that in the eyes of God, offering 2 little coins means everything to God, if it is everything you have left to your name on planet earth, versus giving 2 million gold bars if you have 2 billion more in reserve somewhere collecting dust. It is therefore simple and clear – God does not look at the absolute value of our offering to Him but in relative terms. In fact, God does not consider our offering, in and of themselves, at all … be it in our gold, our time nor our talents. He considers instead, our sincerity. In God’s reckoning, he looks at the sincerity in our hearts in what we offer Him.

Do we give him sincere adoration in prayer, or do we hope to gain His favor when we praise and worship Him? Do we offer him authentic service in Ministry or do we or put on a good show of our ‘devoutness’ to gain the adulation of men and seek privilege in Church? Do we offer him true sorrow and repentance for hurting our brothers and sisters when we fail to love them as God did, or do we hope to avoid retribution and punishment? Are we truly grateful for all God has given us, including the crosses in our lives, or are we grateful to God only when He has granted our wishes?

In the story of Cain and Abel, let us examine again the specific offerings brought to God:

“Cain brought to Jehovah an offering from the fruit of the ground. Abel, he also brought from the firstborn of his sheep, their fat portions”. (Genesis 4:3-4).

In the ancient cultures, people were not supposed to bring just any old ordinary fruits, grains, and animals to their God. For the gift to be acceptable, it had to be the best of what they had to offer. And the first of their harvest, as well as the firstborn of their flocks and herds, was to be offered to God. Why did God have regard for Abel’s offering, but not for Cain’s? Abel brought God his best, and put God first. With his offering, Abel richly thanked and honored the God who had given him life, health, wealth, and wellbeing. Cain just brought whatever ordinary produce he had on hand. Was that any way to thank the One who gave him his very life, and made his crops to grow, flourish, and bear fruit? In short, God accepted Abel’s offering because it was offered out of a heart full of sincerity and gratitude. God did not accept Cain’s offering because it smacked of being a half-hearted effort to curry God’s favor or to do the bare minimum so long as we need not get inconvenienced and to stay within our comfort zone.

What then are our own offerings to God – the best we are able to from the sincerity of our hearts? Or what we can spare? Sometimes, because we believe in an all-loving, all merciful, all faithful God, we think that is ‘okay’ if we fall short of giving our best to God. On the contrary, dear brothers and sisters, it is not okay …for God does demand the very, very, very best from us. He knows we will always fall short of it but that does not mean that He does not expect us to make the sincere effort on our part. And it begins from our hearts; start from there to offer your best – most loving, most sincere, most authentic, offering to God. For our God deserves only the best from us. He has said so when He commanded us to love Him with all our hearts, our souls, our minds and to love our brothers and sisters the same. The first and THE most important commandment since the beginning of time.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, free us from the great evil in us of our ingratitude and insincerity to you. Deliver us from the spirit of this world that deludes us into the falsehood that you deserve only our mediocrity, our inauthenticity and our compromises in our worship and service of you and our brothers and sisters. Help us Father. We cannot rise above all these without your saving grace and love. Forgive us for all the times, we have been too human, forgetting that we are your children – children of the Almighty God.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you for giving us your very best – your first born and only Son to save us, Mary to bring us the love of a perfect mother and the Holy Spirit, to sanctify, empower and advocate for us, for all the times we have given to you anything and everything… except our best.