Tag Archives: Discerning vocation

12 February, Tuesday – Good Fruit

12 February 2019

__________________

Genesis 1:20-2:4

God said, ‘Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth within the vault of heaven.’ And so it was. God created great sea-serpents and every kind of living creature with which the waters teem, and every kind of winged creature. God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas; and let the birds multiply upon the earth.’ Evening came and morning came: the fifth day.

God said, ‘Let the earth produce every kind of living creature: cattle, reptiles, and every kind of wild beast.’ And so it was. God made every kind of wild beast, every kind of cattle, and every kind of land reptile. God saw that it was good.

God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.’

God created man in the image of himself,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.

God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I give you all the seed-bearing plants that are upon the whole earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this shall be your food. To all wild beasts, all birds of heaven and all living reptiles on the earth I give all the foliage of plants for food.’ And so it was. God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day.

Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he had rested after all his work of creating.

Such were the origins of heaven and earth when they were created.

_____________________________

Mark 7:1-13

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:

This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.

You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ And he said to them, ‘How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! For Moses said: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. But you say, “If a man says to his father or mother: Anything I have that I might have used to help you is Corban (that is, dedicated to God), then he is forbidden from that moment to do anything for his father or mother.” In this way you make God’s word null and void for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many other things like this.’

_______________________

Be fruitful and multiply.

When I was younger in my faith journey, I thought that when God said ‘Be fruitful and multiply’, it meant procreation. In my youth, I had it all planned – I would be married and have children. That’s how I would be fruitful. I looked up the definitions of the words. ‘Be fruitful’ means to be producing good results or being productive, the word ‘multiply’ means to increase or cause to increase greatly in number or quantity. Fast forward to today – I am not married, nor do I have children. Does that mean that this line in today’s first reading has little to do with me? Or am I not being fruitful because I have not produced any offspring?

Jesus was 33 years old, did not have any wife nor kids; does that deem him also unfruitful and unproductive? As I pondered on this deeper, I know that we are all called to be fruitful. Whether married or single. We don’t have to ‘produce fruit’ in order to be fruitful. We could have a fruitful trip to the store if we bought all we wanted at good discounts. Or if we made a trip to the market and came home with the freshest produce. For me it would be finding good quality chorizo at the weekend market.

As Christians, we are called to be fruitful with our vocations, our time and gifts that God has given to us. Fruitful in our behaviour, attitude, words, and thoughts. To be fruitful means to follow Christ. To love what He loves. To do what He commands from a loving motive and with a joyful spirit. This obedience is both predestined by and empowered by God Himself which removes any grounds for boasting in how fruitful our lives or ministries become. It is by God’s grace and our abiding in Christ that we produce good fruit.

So what are some ways we can be fruitful and multiply?

In the workplace, we have to be responsible, diligent and do our part in the organization. Getting away with the bare minimum, getting our colleagues to do the heavy lifting, gossiping, back stabbing and being a ‘tai chi master’ is not fruitful.

As caregivers or parents, when we care for, love and look after the needs of our children, parents or aged relatives.

As children, when we are responsible for our actions, when we do the very best at our studies, when we volunteer to help a friend who is struggling with a subject, when we take out the trash after dinner or clean out our room.

As a single, when we can give of our time to help a charitable organisation, look out for the elderly in our neighbourhood, be a listening ear to someone struggling with depression, cook for someone who doesn’t have regular meals, or when we use our talents and resources to benefit others.

So as long as we are living lives that pleasing to God, when our lives are a reflection of Jesus in our hearts and we bring Him glory (whether we have children or not) – we are fruitful and multiplying. Indeed, we can be spiritually fruitful and multiply the citizens of the Kingdom of God when we obey Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

So go forth my brothers and sisters, with Jesus in living in us, let us be fruitful and multiply.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, and help us to live fully and faithfully to our covenant. May our lives be spiritually fruitful and pleasing to You. May our hearts burst with love and a great desire to bring joy to others because you, Jesus, first loved us. 

Thanksgiving: God, thank you making us in your image and your likeness. Thank you for looking at us and saying ‘indeed it was very good.’ Now may we live our lives worthy of you.

15 July, Sunday – On Finding Your Vocation

15 July 

________________

Amos 7:12-15

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos, ‘Go away, seer;’ get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple.’ ‘I was no prophet, neither did I belong to any of the brotherhoods of prophets,’ Amos replied to Amaziah ‘I was a shepherd, and looked after sycamores: but it was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, and the Lord who said, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

________________

Ephesians 1:3-14

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.
Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ,
to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence,
determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ
for his own kind purposes,
to make us praise the glory of his grace,
his free gift to us in the Beloved,
in whom, through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.
Such is the richness of the grace
which he has showered on us
in all wisdom and insight.
He has let us know the mystery of his purpose,
the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the beginning
to act upon when the times had run their course to the end:
that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head,
everything in the heavens and everything on earth.
And it is in him that we were claimed as God’s own,
chosen from the beginning,
under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things
as he decides by his own will;
chosen to be,
for his greater glory,
the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.
Now you too, in him,
have heard the message of the truth and the good news of your salvation,
and have believed it;
and you too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise,
the pledge of our inheritance
which brings freedom for those whom God has taken for his own, to make his
glory praised.

________________ 

Mark 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

________________

“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two”

It’s been 5 years since I left my job. I was reminded of this when I tried to log into my LinkedIn account this week and couldn’t remember my password. I don’t even know why I keep a LinkedIn profile anymore. That life seems so foreign now. I miss some aspects of it – the adrenaline rush, the buzz when trade strategies worked, the organized chaos. I had always dreamt of working at a hedge fund, so when it happened, it was like living a dream – for the first few years at least. And then life happened, and my career path became untenable.

Trading did help me find my way back to God though, which is a little ironic since Scripture tells us how we are to be “in the world but not of the world” (John 17:14-16). I started reading Oxygen around 2009, and writing for it in 2010, just as the global financial crisis was beginning to trough. The whole concept of ‘reaching a trough’ is entirely backward looking. When you’re in the ‘trough’, there are few signs around to assure you that things are about to get better. Quite the opposite – my time in 2008-2010 was spent obsessing about how many months’ mortgage cover I had in my savings account. I watched people get fired around me. My boss got fired. I miraculously survived.

I’m a full-time housewife now. To my own surprise, I left my job, moved countries, got married and became stepmother to two lovely young adults. We got a dog, whose devotion reminds me daily how much farther you’ll get with love than ambition (he rules the roost, whether he intends to or not). People often ask, “What do you do?” and look terribly disappointed when I tell them that I am a housewife. Like Amos’ statement, “I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores”, there is something decidedly unglamorous and underachieving about tending a flock, or a garden, or a home. I myself chafed against the notion at first. But then I realized that there is a difference between one’s ‘career’ and one’s ‘vocation’. When the two intersect, you can have a long and satisfying career. When they don’t, is when you run into all kinds of issues with fulfilment – as I did towards the end. A career is something you choose for yourself; a vocation is what God chooses for you. You are called to a vocation. Jesus, ‘summoned’ his disciples. Amos was taken from following the flock and tending to sycamores, called by God to be a prophet. All the apostles had day jobs, but were called elsewhere to their life’s vocation.

As stepmother to a newly-minted college graduate, I know that the stress to find a job is real. This is when the rubber hits the road. If I could go back and tell my impatient twenty-year-old self something, it would be this — to be patient, to have fortitude, to be aware and vigilant. I would tell her to quieten her own ambition and listen instead, for the whispering voice of God. I would tell her to open her heart to instruction, to allow herself to be coached, to not bail for short-term gain. Because true and lasting fulfilment comes only when your dreams intersect with the will of God. And finding that vocation can sometimes take you the better part of a lifetime. But oh boy, is it going to be worth it in the end!!

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for all those who are seeking employment or who may be trying to discern their vocation. We pray that God will help them to make good decisions. We ask that He send them mentors who will help them find their way.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks not just to all the doors that were open to us, but also for those that were closed in our face. There is blessing too in the path not taken, the path that would have led to certain destruction.