15 April, Monday – Growing in Riches

15 April 2019

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Isaiah 42:1-7

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom my soul delights.
I have endowed him with my spirit
that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud,
or make his voice heard in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed,
nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice;
he will neither waver, nor be crushed
until true justice is established on earth,
for the islands are awaiting his law.

Thus says God, the Lord,
he who created the heavens and spread them out,
who gave shape to the earth and what comes from it,
who gave breath to its people
and life to the creatures that move in it:

‘I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right;
I have taken you by the hand and formed you;
I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations,

‘to open the eyes of the blind,
to free captives from prison,
and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.’

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John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom he had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there; Martha waited on them and Lazarus was among those at table. Mary brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair; the house was full of the scent of the ointment. Then Judas Iscariot – one of his disciples, the man who was to betray him – said, ‘Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions. So Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’

Meanwhile a large number of Jews heard that he was there and came not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. Then the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well, since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.

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You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me

Today, the message that I’ve gotten out of the readings is that of growing in riches. In our present world, we focus on growing in riches, in terms of financially, growing in reputation such as to seemingly be able to live a ‘comfortable’ and secured life in the future.

What is comfortable? What is secure? In today’s Gospel, we read of how the chief priests planned to put Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, to death as many of the Jews were leaving them and following Jesus. And in contrast, we see Mary using costly perfume and anointing Jesus’ feet with her hair. We even hear of how Judas Iscariot feels that the expensive perfume should be sold and money given to the poor.

Sometimes, we can be too focused on the ‘mission’ that we are blinded and fail to acknowledge the giver of the mission in the first place. In losing the reason why we are alive, we then equate it to the need to grow in riches because we want to lead a comfortable and secure life. While it is important that we look after our lives financially, the true growth — which is our mission — is to be a witness and a disciple of Jesus, to lead all to Him. We will then focus on growing in riches, as in the first reading, growing in relationship with Christ and His people, growing in faith, growing in humility, growing in sight, in listening and in formation to understand and live out our mission better.

Recently, I was asked to lead a short sharing about the raising of Lazarus from the dead and on that day itself, I felt out of sorts and wasn’t in a good disposition — my mind and heart were all over the place. It was just minutes before my sharing that I prayed. Lord, I’m sorry and I am a sinner, I do not deserve this opportunity but the people who will be hearing the sharing deserve to know of your love, how great you are and to know you are real. Please take over me. And when it was time, it was He who led the sharing and the words from my own mouth even inspired me. Thank you Jesus. I grew.

As we continue to prepare our hearts for His passion, death and resurrection this week, may we also continue to grow in the riches of our faith, that we may be poor in spirit, in order to be rich in you.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that you continue to reveal yourself to us and lead us to the path that leads to you. Help us to be constantly reminded of our call as your disciples and not be distracted by the missions of the world.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for this time of prayer, thank you for allowing us to go deeper into your word. Thank you for being there especially in our times of need.

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