21 June 2019
2 Corinthians 11:18,21-30
If I am to boast, let me boast of my own feebleness
So many others have been boasting of their worldly achievements, that I will boast myself. But if anyone wants some brazen speaking – I am still talking as a fool – then I can be as brazen as any of them, and about the same things. Hebrews, are they? So am I. Israelites? So am I.
Descendants of Abraham? So am I. The servants of Christ? I must be mad to say this, but so am I, and more than they: more, because I have worked harder, I have been sent to prison more often, and whipped many times more, often almost to death. Five times I had the thirty-nine lashes from the Jews; three times I have been beaten with sticks; once I was stoned; three times I have been shipwrecked and once adrift in the open sea for a night and a day. Constantly travelling, I have been in danger from rivers and in danger from brigands, in danger from my own people and in danger from pagans; in danger in the towns, in danger in the open country, danger at sea and danger from so-called brothers. I have worked and laboured, often without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty and often starving; I have been in the cold without clothes. And, to leave out much more, there is my daily preoccupation: my anxiety for all the churches. When any man has had scruples, I have had scruples with him; when any man is made to fall, I am tortured.
If I am to boast, then let me boast of my own feebleness.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and woodworms destroy them and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworms destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
‘The lamp of the body is the eye. It follows that if your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be all darkness. If then, the light inside you is darkness, what darkness that will be!’
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
During my university studies, someone once shared with me that life is about priorities. This statement was made when I made a remark expressing my envy of schoolmates who could seemingly balance everything in their lives. They were able to get good grades, participate actively in non-academic life and also to maintain strong relationships. That statement got me thinking and the Gospel of today reminds me of the need to remain focused on what matters to me.
The time which we have is a gift which God has given to us. Every moment we spend cannot be returned and this is especially important for all of us as we will be called to account for every unit of our time in life when we meet God. As Christians, we are called to radiate God’s love to all the people around us. This is what our primary duty calls us to do – to be an example for the people around us. This is definitely not easy but the fact that we put in the effort is testimony to that we are aware of what we are supposed to do and are learning how to become better. Every fall in our attempt to live as a Christian is another opportunity for us to be a better Christian.
The same person in the first paragraph who shared with me the insight that life is about priorities then continued by saying that, “And I know what your priority is – that of being a good Christian.” Frankly, I was surprised by his observation and naturally asked him why. He shared that he noticed I would always make an effort to go for Mass whenever I could and that I was always trying to listen to the other person’s side of the story and not try to impose my perspective.
God has a plan for us and we will need to co-operate with Him to allow the plan to achieve its completion. We can follow the example of St Paul who shares with us how he suffered greatly for Christ. This was not something which is easy to do especially since St Paul was put through tremendous risk in his life to proclaim the Gospel. I do hope that when the time comes for us to face such trials, we may be able to handle them with grace and patience.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us the grace to bear with the challenges in life with patience and love.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who teach us patience.