18 February, Tuesday – Sharing the Lord’s providence

18 February

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James 1:12-18

Happy the man who stands firm when trials come. He has proved himself, and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Never, when you have been tempted, say, ‘God sent the temptation’; God cannot be tempted to do anything wrong, and he does not tempt anybody. Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire. Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it too has a child, and the child is death.

Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers: it is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created.

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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 have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?”

Today’s gospel readings are particularly relevant to the situation in Singapore, where the ongoing novel Coronavirus crisis has sparked off a spate of supermarket runs and hoarding of daily necessities by citizens. In these times, everyone is hoping to obtain enough food and necessities for his or her own family. The fear that drives these actions is reminiscent of the doubt that must have arisen among the disciples, both in today’s gospel and in Matthew 14:13-21, where Jesus had fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes.

Indeed, that latter event is precisely why Jesus asked His disciples: “Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?”, for they appeared to have forgotten about the time that Jesus himself provided food for everyone, even when it did not seem there was enough. In these dire times, we too must take our Lord’s words to heart. If He had provided the five thousand with sufficient food, what more us, who live in abundance but act as if there was none to share.

If we are to take the Lord’s lesson to heart, perhaps a way out of this situation would be to share what we have, and consume only what we need. Beyond Singapore and the novel Coronavirus, this applies to our use of the world’s natural resources as well. The Lord has already provided us with all that we need in this world. Are we ready to accept this truth, and live confidently in His providence, rather than live in constant fear of deprivation and lack?

(Today’s Oxygen by Jacob Woo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please give us the strength and grace to overcome the daily afflictions that we face in our daily lives. May we learn to receive your love and to trust in Your providence. 

Thanksgiving: Lord, we are thankful for the life that You have given us, and for always providing Your children with all that they need.   

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