15 December, Sunday – Love for God As the Basis for Everything

15 Dec 2019 – 3rd Sunday of Advent

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Isaiah 35:1-6,10

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult,
let the wasteland rejoice and bloom,
let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil,
let it rejoice and sing for joy.
The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it,
the splendour of Carmel and Sharon;
they shall see the glory of the Lord,
the splendour of our God.
Strengthen all weary hands,
steady all trembling knees
and say to all faint hearts,
‘Courage! Do not be afraid.
‘Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy
for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.
They will come to Zion shouting for joy,
everlasting joy on their faces;
joy and gladness will go with them
and sorrow and lament be ended.

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James 5:7-10

Be patient, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. Think of a farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon. Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. For your example, brothers, in submitting with patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

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Matthew 11:2-11

John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
  As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says:
‘Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way before you.
‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’

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And happy is the man who does not lose faith in me

The book of Revelation in the bible talks about heaven. It details how, in heaven, everyone stands and gives glory and honour to God.

I must confess that I was not impressed.

I did not find it appealing that what I would get out of eternal life was to stand around praising God; I felt that we were mere subjects of a King, and our role was purely to serve. What was in it for me?

This, however, changed for me only recently.

I was speaking with some people in the office and I was remarking how blessed I was to have met and married my wife. I was sharing about how despite being together for over twenty years, I enjoy spending time with her. In fact, I had hoped to be able to deepen my relationship with her.

This realisation was really very important to me. Our role is NOT just to stand and sing praises to God. If we walk closely with God, we cannot but help praising Him. It is not the chore we imagine it to be. Instead, we are invited to build this deeply personal relationship with Him. God knows us intimately and as we grow in love for Him, we desire to praise and honour Him.

When I first read Revelations, I had failed to understand this important element and looked at the songs of praises and honour by themselves. Without this love and relationship, all the praising and honouring will just be an empty show.

We do not even need to wait for heaven. I remember years ago, before I developed any real relationship with our Lord, I used to look at my watch while attending mass. In fact, I used to excuse myself to go to the washroom, in order to make the time go faster!

It is clear, in today’s Gospel, of Jesus’ relationship with St John the Baptist. The latter had been preparing the way for Jesus and John was the “servant”. Despite this disparity is statuses, Jesus talks about John in glowing terms, and calls him the greatest of all children born of women. Far from being a one-sided relationship, we see a mutually loving and respectful relationship.

Similarly, let us use our time here on earth to try and strengthen love for our Lord; to the level He loves us. Instead of it being a chore, I look forward to an eternity of desiring more time with our God!

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, we pray that we may always have the desire to know You better and to love You more each day.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father for being faithful to us, even before we are faithful to You. We are grateful for Your love!

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