Tag Archives: silence

9 February, Friday – Eyes Of The Heart

9 February 

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1 Kings 11:29-32,12:19

One day when Jeroboam had gone out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh accosted him on the road. Ahijah was wearing a new cloak; the two of them were in the open country by themselves. Ahijah took the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve strips, saying to Jeroboam, ‘Take ten strips for yourself, for thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel, “I am going to tear the kingdom from Solomon’s hand and give ten tribes to you. He shall keep one tribe for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’

And Israel has been separated from the House of David until the present day.

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Mark 7:31-37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’

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Be opened

Have you ever experienced hearing your name being called but you are unresponsive? I have, so many times, and not only when it comes to my name. Even when I am listening, there were moments when I was hearing everything but my mind was ‘spaced out’ elsewhere. There were times when I recorded lectures so that I could listen to them again when I study. There was a topic that seemed to be easy but I could not comprehend any of it. I re-listened to my recordings, but still, I could not move forward with that topic.

The gospel today is about a deaf and mute man who was bought before Jesus. And Jesus cured this man. Jesus wanted to keep this miracle a secret. But people are human. The more rules are imposed on them, the more likely they would break them. The gospel teaches us that we can be mute and deaf spiritually. On our own, we do not have the capacity to share the good news nor understand it. It is by the grace of God that we can fully understand and speak the message of the readings. This gift is given freely. Sometimes, we just have to ask for it and develop it. We must always pray to God that our deaf and mute heart will always be healed.

I believe everyone prays. But prayer is a two-way communication. We talk to God and then we listen to him. Sometimes, we just want to do the talking. We do not know how to listen. There are times when we think we were listening, but we are not. We persevere by asking God for everything, but we do not give Him the chance to speak to us. Being silent is a way where we can listen to God. It seems easy to shut our mouth, but our mind is still noisy. It is not easy to silence ourselves. It takes practice, perseverance, and patience. It is easier to think about being silent but more difficult for it to be done. There are people who are already experts on this, there are others who are just starting. I am an example of someone who is struggling with silence. I try to set a time for it, but I am not always faithful with my schedule. The thing is, we must not give up doing what is pleasing to God because God never abandons us.

I gave up listening to that recording. Instead, I asked a very knowledgeable classmate to explain it to me. It did help. Sometimes when we think we have done so many things, we tend to forget that we also need to listen. Silence is a necessary part of our life in order to hear more of what God is saying to us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please open our hearts to know your will. Give us the humility to accept it so that we may fulfill your will.

Thanksgiving: Ever dearest God, we are truly grateful for everything you have given us. Thank you for giving us another chance to do Your will. Thank you for the gift of hearing and understanding, which we hope we may use well.

26 May, Friday – Wisdom in Silence

26 May 2017

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Acts 18:9-18

At Corinth one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you.’ So Paul stayed there preaching the word of God among them for eighteen months.

But, while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a concerted attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. ‘We accuse this man’ they said ‘of persuading people to worship God in a way that breaks the Law.’ Before Paul could open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘Listen, you Jews. If this were a misdemeanour or a crime, I would not hesitate to attend to you; but if it is only quibbles about words and names, and about your own Law, then you must deal with it yourselves-I have no intention of making legal decisions about things like that.’ Then he sent them out of the court, and at once they all turned on Sosthenes, the synagogue president, and beat him in front of the court house. Gallio refused to take any notice at all.

After staying on for some time, Paul took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut off, because of a vow he had made.

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John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
you will be weeping and wailing
while the world will rejoice;
you will be sorrowful,
but your sorrow will turn to joy.
A woman in childbirth suffers,
because her time has come;
but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering
in her joy that a man has been born into the world.
So it is with you: you are sad now,
but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy,
and that joy no one shall take from you.
When that day comes,
you will not ask me any questions.’

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Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you.

So often we look up to great orators, charismatic leaders and speakers, and admire them for their gift of inspiring and persuading with commanding speeches. Rarely do we celebrate the ones who know when silence is instead the greatest gift needed for the moment. I know I do.

In the first reading today, the Lord tells Paul, one of our greatest evangelists and one whom we know for his wonderful letters, to not be afraid to allow himself to be silenced. When I first read that, I misunderstood that God had asked him to not allow himself to be silenced. It is so much easier to think that must be the case when it comes to defending one’s faith and evangelizing God.
Instead, we see Paul completely quiet in this episode of accusation by the Jews who plotted to bring him down in front of Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia. Paul had no chance to retort, as before he could open his mouth to defend or explain himself, Gallio silenced not only him, but also the Jews who accused him.

Sometimes silence is wiser than speaking, listening more healing than words, quietness more empowering than ideas. This can happen in all sorts of settings – from official and professional situations, to private and personal moments.

Henri Nouwen once wrote, ‘somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.’ I have lost count of the many times when my silence and humble observation has saved me, and when my brashness or confidence has cost me belated anxiety and anguish.

At the same time, we would do well to seek the gift of wise silence from God, and to exercise more silence in our spiritual journey. I noticed that when I am out of sorts and not at peace with myself, my prayers become anxious chatters bouncing off the inner walls of my head. I may think that I have spent time in prayer, but actually I had been gratifying my inner voice and justifications, instead of being truly present to the Lord.

Again, Nouwen cautions us, “the real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing – that demands real effort.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: We seek the gift of silence, and the gift of wisdom, to know when to practice this powerful instrument of peace.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for listening to my chattering noise, and revealing to me that your gentle silence is often the greatest gift I need in my prayer.

18 September, Sunday – Be Still and Know that I am God

18 September

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Amos 8:4-7

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy
and try to suppress the poor people of the country,
you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over
so that we can sell our corn,
and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?
Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel,
by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money,
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’
The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob,
‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’

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1 Timothy 2:1-8

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and – I am telling the truth and no lie – a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.

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Luke 16:1-13

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.

‘And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’

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I urge that entreaties and prayers… be made on behalf of all men… that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

My life is a constant buzz right now. From dawn to dusk, I am constantly on the move. My sleep is not one of peacefulness nor full rest, and most of the time I wake up feeling tired, not energized. The reason for my whirlwind of activity is my role as a new mother; had I been single say ten years ago, I would have said that my job was the reason. Or my social life. Now in the dim glow of my night light while I attend to my infant son, I sometimes call out to God in desperation. And in the quiet of the night, sometimes God answers.

Nothing could have quite prepared me for motherhood. You can read all the books ever written on the subject, but until your child arrives on the scene, you never quite know the extent that your life can be turned around. I used to be a stickler for house chores and having my home in right order and cleanliness. Now I would be lucky if I can get ahead of my ever-piling laundry. In the past, I would dream and cook up elaborate meals; I would be satisfied now to have something that I could whip up or reheat instantly. I tried to do it all. I still try to do it all, the cooking, cleaning, caring of baby. Between work and home and being a mother, I have not even had the time to look for hired help. I confess for an OCD person like me, it was hard to get used to this “new way of life”. Sometimes I feel like a tightly wound up toy let loose, and I can’t stop.

And so something gave in me during that time, and unfortunately it was my time with God. I stopped seeking Him as much as I used to, seeking Him only in my sleep-deprived state of mind, which was when the busy-ness of my life got out of control. My need to be on top of my hectic life not only pushed God out, it also pushed other people out, relationships that matter to me.

Have we ever felt that way before, when we are so busy with life – our work, social commitments, extra -curricular activities, even church activities – that we forget who the Lord of our work is? He made all this possible for us, giving us the responsibilities because He knew we could be trusted with our roles. At the same time, He also hoped that in challenging us to strive to be our best, we would also call out to Him to help us. Or perhaps sit a while with Him to thank Him for the blessings or just to talk about how our day has been, chaotic or otherwise.

It is funny that I am realizing this whilst writing this reflection, that my life has just been so busy that I have not reached out to ask God for the one thing that I crave the most at this point: a quiet and tranquil moment, where I can sit for a while and reflect. I know it is not too late, for God is everywhere. We only have to seek Him, and He will be there.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

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Thanksgiving: Lord, it has taken me this long to reach out to You for help. I thought I could do it all, but I know I can’t. Help me to take a step back, quieten down, and reflect. Help me to appreciate the small but wonderful moments in life that You have blessed me with. Help me to realize that in peace, shall I find sanity, serenity, and You.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for helping me to realize that I should slow down before I self-destructed. Let me remember always, to “be still and know” that You are God.