Daily Archives: March 15, 2020

16 March, Monday – God vs People’s Approval

16 March 2020

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2 Kings 5:1-15

Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper.

Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.’

Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’ he reported ‘is what the girl from the land of Israel said.’

‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’

So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: ‘With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you for you to cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said ‘that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’

When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, ‘Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’

So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.’
But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, ‘Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?’ And he turned round and went off in a rage.

But his servants approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, “Bathe, and you will become clean.”’

So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.

Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’

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Luke 4:24-30

Jesus came to Nazara and spoke to the people in the synagogue: ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

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“I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.”

“I hope to be a religious sister one day,” I told my friends.

They laughed at me. They couldn’t see past my flaws and accept that I was a child of God, beautifully, wonderfully and fearlessly made.

We expect people to be perfect if they want to join the religious vocation. We may even expect the religious to have a halo over their heads. We put them on so high a pedestal that if they fall, they are condemned by us to be failures.

But I remember reading somewhere that God calls sinners to be His friends, and He does not want perfect people to serve Him. Instead, He wants imperfect people to join the religious orders, so that through serving Him, they may be made perfect.

This brings me to the sexual scandal that the Catholic Church faces in modern times today. Indeed, we should feel compassion and fight for justice for the victims; but, do we also reject the priests immediately and cold-heartedly? Justice does not mean that we retaliate or shun the wrongdoer, it just means that we bring the truth to light. We should remember that all the clergy are human and imperfect as well, and we should always keep them in our prayers.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Father, please help those who are called to You to join the religious vocation to be courageous, and stand up for themselves and for You, even if they are being ridiculed. Please help those who are in the vocation to accept and embrace their imperfections, yet learn how to be perfect like You through service. Please help us to forgive priests who have fallen in scandals, and to never lose our faith. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for showing us Your example to always do what is right and to have the faith even when there are scandals in the Catholic Church. Amen.

15 March, Sunday – God is always with us

15 March 2020

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Exodus 17:3-7

Tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’

Moses appealed to the Lord. ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’ This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

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Romans 5:1-2,5-8

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.

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John 4:5-42

Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:

‘If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.’

‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied:

‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.’

‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’ ‘Go and call your husband’ said Jesus to her ‘and come back here.’ The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:

‘Believe me, woman,
the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know:
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’

The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’

At this point his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking to her?’ The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’ This brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat; but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples asked one another, ‘Has someone been bringing him food?’ But Jesus said:

‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me,
and to complete his work.
Have you not got a saying:
Four months and then the harvest?
Well, I tell you:
Look around you, look at the fields;
already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life,
and thus sower and reaper rejoice together.
For here the proverb holds good:
one sows, another reaps;
I sent you to reap a harvest you had not worked for.
Others worked for it;
and you have come into the rewards of their trouble.’

Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

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“Is the Lord with us, or not?”

The number of cases keep rising. The death toll is increasing. Racist attacks are proliferating.

In view of this trying time of the COVID-19 situation, it seems that God isn’t listening to us. Or maybe He isn’t even with us. We’ve been praying every day for a cure, but the situation isn’t abating anytime soon. Some of us may have known patients who have passed away from this virus.

But we should never put Him to test. Instead, we should pray that God is with us amidst this affliction, and we should count our blessings during these difficult circumstances. Many of us are spending more time at home, so we can use this opportunity to catch up with our loved ones and spend some bonding time together. For instance, my family and I had some quality time last week playing card games together. We had never done so for a long time, and for a moment, we were back in our younger days, living life, carefree.

Moreover, we can continue showing care and love to people around us, like the couple who distributed free masks outside the Punggol MRT station. We should stop being racist because it is certainly not how God wants us to behave during such tough times.

For those of us who know of patients who passed away due to the virus, we can support and grieve with those who are in similar circumstances and remind ourselves that God is grieving together with us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Lord, please help us to see the good in others and love everyone around us despite the coronavirus situation. We trust that You will help us out of this challenging circumstance soon enough. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for helping us to love others and to spend more time with family during these trying times. Amen.