Tag Archives: the love of God

28 July, Sunday – Focus on virtue and not just on sin

28 July 2019

Our Father in Heaven

Christ has given us in very truth the power to become the children of God. Compare the timidity and self-abnegation of Abraham’s prayer with the confidence with which Christ teaches us to pray to our Father in heaven.

– Sunday Missal

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Genesis 18:20-32

The Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’

The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ the Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’

Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No,’ he replied ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ Again Abraham said to him, ‘Perhaps there will only be forty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’

Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the twenty.’ He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the ten.’

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Colossians 2:12-14

You have been buried with Christ, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.

He has overridden the Law, and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross.

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Luke 11:1-13

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.”’

He also said to them:

‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

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for the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it

A youtube video I once watched began with a boy slumped on the floor. He did not look to be in a happy state. To make things worse, a large stone suddenly struck him on the head and he started to bleed. The boy jumped up, screaming and shouting at someone whose back was turned towards him, arms outstretched, blocking out other projectiles hurling towards the boy. The boy accused him of doing a bad job of protecting him from getting hurt. “How could you let this happen to me? You must be sleeping on the job!!”

The video then went on to show that person, turning sheepishly to the boy and apologizing for letting that one stone slip through and hurting the boy. Upon closer examination, I realized that the person himself was bleeding profusely from all sorts of cuts and bruises from the myriad of stones and other flying objects that kept hitting him as he used his own body as a human shield for the boy. Then came the clincher — the human shield was Jesus. And he was sorry to the boy for not doing a ‘good enough’ job because that one stone slipped through him.

Not possible? God does not make mistakes? He is perfect after all, isn’t He? And why on earth would Jesus apologize to the boy? Are we forgetting who the creator and who the creature is here? Instead, the boy should count his blessings that Jesus himself was protecting him from all the many other projectiles that did not reach the boy. We need to ponder on how often we have been that little boy.

I would like to focus my reflection on the first reading where Abraham bargained, it seemed, with God, to spare Sodom on the count of the handful of good and faithful people found there. Abraham was certainly shrewd in his handling of the Lord; he played to the mercy and compassion of God instead of His wrath. He played to the goodness of God that would sooner look on the goodness of His children than their evil. Abraham played on the one weakness God had – His incomprehensible love for His children, which makes Him appear even weak and foolish, by giving in so much to the ungratefulness and indifference of his spoilt children.

Yet, it was once said that conversion comes not from the judgment of God, but from His mercy. That for those touched by the grace of the Holy Spirit to true repentance, deep and true conversion swiftly follows a heart grateful to have experienced the compassion, understanding, forgiveness and unconditional love of a loving Father. This is the love of a Father God that has chosen to look upon the goodness and virtues of His children, even if these exist only in the most miniscule iota of a speck in that person, than on their all-too-obvious faults and failings. It is this deep, incomprehensible love and compassion of God that the second reading points to — that which has removed and nailed our transgressions to the Cross. It is this incomprehensible love that Our Lord’s prayer calls us to follow as we learn to forgive the transgressions of others against us, as we ourselves are forgiven by our own Father.

You see, God does not look at what we truly deserve, but what He truly wants to make deserving of us as His sons and daughters. I’ve said this before in earlier sharings – our focus must NEVER be on ourselves. It must ALWAYS be upon God.

Let me end with one more twist — that it is not we who ask, seek and knock but in truth, the Father who asks, seeks and knocks on the doors of our hearts. That it is He that is the one showing great patience, persistence and hope that one day we will finally come to our senses and realize that although we really have absolutely nothing to give to God, God is waiting to give everything to us. That God helps those who help themselves is a fallacy – this phrase does not exist in the Bible. But if you can allow me to cite a wisdom once said by Fr Erbin Fernandez, “God helps those who finally realize that they can no longer help themselves”.

To finally open that door, to see that our Father is at our door – waiting to embrace us once again. That He has always been there — waiting for us to finally come to our senses.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us. We have forgotten your love for us — that you are our creator. That you are the one who has loved us since before the beginning of time. That we are your own.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for never abandoning us despite our great unworthiness and incomprehensible ingratitude towards you. Help us to grasp the truth of the infinite love you have for us and to experience your love with the confidence of a child in his loving Father, who looks after His own with the utmost care. And to then be able to fully experience the joy of returning your love to you.

11 April, Wednesday – Easter’s Love Story

11 Apr – St Stanislaus, bishop and martyr 

Stanislaus of Szczepanów, or Stanis?aw Szczepanowski, was a Bishop of Kraków known chiefly for having been martyred by the Polish king Boles?aw II the Bold. Stanislaus is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Stanislaus the Martyr.

  • Wikipedia
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Acts 5:17-26

The high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Prompted by jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the common gaol.

But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out, ‘Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new Life.’ They did as they were told; they went into the Temple at dawn and began to preach.

When the high priest arrived, he and his supporters convened the Sanhedrin – this was the full Senate of Israel – and sent to the gaol for them to be brought. But when the officials arrived at the prison they found they were not inside, so they went back and reported, ‘We found the gaol securely locked and the warders on duty at the gates, but when we unlocked the door we found no one inside.’ When the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard this news they wondered what this could mean. Then a man arrived with fresh news. ‘At this very moment’ he said, ‘the men you imprisoned are in the Temple. They are standing there preaching to the people.’ The captain went with his men and fetched them. They were afraid to use force in case the people stoned them.
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John 3:16-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

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For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

John 3:16 for many of us, was the first verse we memorized as children. My grandmother was the one who taught it to me. A born-again Christian, she found God late in life and embraced her faith wholeheartedly. She would often sing hymns to us instead of lullabies. In fact, my first encounter with the Holy Bible was a beautiful illustrated version at my grandparents’ home. I was a practising Buddhist back then, so there was always something special about the Holy Bible because it was ‘forbidden fruit’ to me. The stories from the Old Testament, of heroism, of sacrifice and faith captured my imagination.

We all have a similar memory of that first encounter with God. I didn’t even know I was being called at the time. But on looking back, I can see how the dots connected forward. As I grew older, my relationship with God deepened despite myself. I say ‘despite’ because I never actively sought God out, yet He was constantly a part of my life. Like John Newton’s famous lyrics, “thru many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home”. I know that all I am, and all I have is because of the grace of God.

The apostles in today’s first reading never imagined that their lives would play out the way it did. That’s the thing about completely trusting God to direct your life – you never know what you’re going to get, or where you’re going to end up. “Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” (John 3: 21). When we commit to living in the light, we find ourselves instinctively giving up our old ways. We find contentment and peace in Him, even if we are in the midst of chaos. Our lives simplify, our priorities become clearer. It may take a year, it may take ten. He changes lives in His time. This Easter, let us remember the promise of John 3:16 offered up to all of us who believe. The great love story of Easter is captured in those simple lines – God’s love for us is so great that He opened up a path for us back to Him, despite ourselves. Embrace it and watch your life change!

(Today’s OXGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for those who have committed themselves to God. We pray they find peace and calm, even if they may be surrounded by chaos.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who work in apostolic vocations. We give thanks for their tireless efforts and courage at spreading His word. Thank you for the inspiration.