Tag Archives: fear of unknown

5 October, Wednesday – Facing up to challenges every day

5 October

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Galatians 2:1-2,7-14

It was not till fourteen years had passed that I went up to Jerusalem again. I went with Barnabas and took Titus with me. I went there as the result of a revelation, and privately I laid before the leading men the Good News as I proclaim it among the pagans; I did so for fear the course I was adopting or had already adopted would not be allowed. On the contrary, they recognised that I had been commissioned to preach the Good News to the uncircumcised just as Peter had been commissioned to preach it to the circumcised. The same person whose action had made Peter the apostle of the circumcised had given me a similar mission to the pagans. So, James, Cephas and John, these leaders, these pillars, shook hands with Barnabas and me as a sign of partnership: we were to go to the pagans and they to the circumcised. The only thing they insisted on was that we should remember to help the poor, as indeed I was anxious to do.

When Cephas came to Antioch, however, I opposed him to his face, since he was manifestly in the wrong. His custom had been to eat with the pagans, but after certain friends of James arrived he stopped doing this and kept away from them altogether for fear of the group that insisted on circumcision. The other Jews joined him in this pretence, and even Barnabas felt himself obliged to copy their behaviour.

When I saw they were not respecting the true meaning of the Good News, I said to Cephas in front of everyone, ‘In spite of being a Jew, you live like the pagans and not like the Jews, so you have no right to make the pagans copy Jewish ways.’

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Luke 11:1-4

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray:

“Father, may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come;
give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test.”’

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And do not put us to the test.

Every day, we are faced with tests. From the time we hit the road, making our way to work, to the time we reach home, having to deal with other personal matters, God puts before us situations and people that test us to see if we truly are worthy to be called sons and daughters of God. Having just returned from three weeks in Spain and having faced certain challenges while there, I have finally settled back in to life at work and at home.

They say that walking the Camino changes you. That while a part of you remains on The Way, the person who returns is different. Over the past week, I have had various colleagues and ministry members remark that I seem to look different now. A few have even said that there is a certain glow. While I certainly feel diferent inside, I am not too sure if I look different on the outside. But after my various encounters along The Way, I know that I return with a deeper appreciation of God’s love for us.

The three pilgrim masses I attended in the cathedral in Santiago were truly anointed. Many of the pilgrims had themselves endured their own ‘tests’ along their journeys. Many had to endure blisters, some ran out of money, others were battling their own inner demons and frailties. There was, however, one thing for certain – everyone who arrived at the Plaza del Obradorio in Santiago de Compostela celebrated a personal victory. There were tears of joy, relief; there were people hugging each other. And as we queued for more than two hours in the Pilgrim’s Office just to get our compostela (the certificate issued for pilgrims who had walked more than 100km), no one complained about the wait. We all spent the time joking and sharing our own experiences, and getting reacquainted with pilgrims we had encountered along The Way.

Brothers and sisters, God does not put us to the test. Rather, He places situations in front of us and allows us to choose what we ourselves would do. So in many ways, the problems and challenges we encounter are of our own doing. However, what God does is that He protects and watches over us by sending us angels to guide and help us. Or He fashions solutions for us which we put down to coincidence or plain luck. During my 300-plus km journey, I prayed the rosary a lot. And I know that each day, as we negotiated rough terrain, inclement weather and weariness, He was always there by our side pushing us along. Just as He does each and every day of our lives.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

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Prayer: Dear God, pour out your Wisdom on us, so that we may always know to choose the right path whenever we find ourselves at a crossroad in our life.

Thanksgiving: I thank you Lord, for always giving me the opportunity to choose my own path in life. And for always being there to catch me whenever I fall.

12 May, Thursday – Courage

12 May – Memorial for Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs; Memorial for St. Pancras, Martyr

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Acts 22:30,23:6-11

Since the tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing, he freed Paul and gave orders for a meeting of the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin; then he brought Paul down and stood him in front of them. Now Paul was well aware that one section was made up of Sadducees and the other of Pharisees, so he called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ As soon as he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was split between the two parties. For the Sadducees say there is neither resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, while the Pharisees accept all three. The shouting grew louder, and some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested strongly, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?’ Feeling was running high, and the tribune, afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered his troops to go down and haul him out and bring him into the fortress.

Next night, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.’

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John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.’

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…courage

What really struck me today, is that one word, “courage”. Oftentimes we fear the unknown, the future and its many uncertainties. We can plan all our lives and believe we are prepared for all outcomes, yet still be unsure when the time comes.  Sometimes we fail to confront or address the issues that are preventing us from moving on. We fail to accept our mistakes and continue to live in the past. Bury our regrets.  But what really happens when we bury our sins, regrets and hurts, is that they will always remain in us.  They will continue to affect us.  We end up living in the shadow of our past.

Seeing the word “courage”, made me want to encourage all who are suffering in silence. Because the truth is, it’s never about the past but whether we have learned and how we are going to improve. For mistakes are many and we will always continue to make them. But hopefully we also have the courage to admit our faults and failings and be more aware of our actions in the future.

Many of us also struggle with finding the courage to trust, to love and to forgive. We build walls around ourselves.  Wear many masks.  But eventually, we lose our identity and we lose ourselves.

Today let us embrace this word. Not just to be bold, but to take that leap of faith.  To believe in God. To believe in ourselves.  To believe that we can afford to lower our walls because God is our strength.  Lower our masks, because when others see us, it’s Christ they see. Embrace our failings and weaknesses, because they have brought us to where we are now. To move on, because we simply deserve better.

Let us not judge ourselves.  Let us give ourselves another chance and know we are all created good and in the image of Christ Himself. Let us find courage through Him. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that You be our courage in times when it seems that we are doing something that isn’t us or allowing something that isn’t right to happen. Lord, we need the courage because many times we simply prefer to choose the simpler way out. Dear Lord, give us wisdom to know how to act when it calls for us to be courageous.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for speaking to us today. We may not know what the future entails but we thank you for all the years we’ve managed to live. Thank you for Your courage at your passion and death.  May we continue to look to you in times of need.