Wednesday, October 20, 2021

In Spe | In Hope

"... and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." — Romans 5:2 (ESV) 


Photo by Jozef Trzebuniak


Our reflection for today is taken from Romans 5:1-2 "We rejoice in our misery".

For people who do not know God or for believers who have no hope, tribulation is the greatest cross in life. Tribulation is sometimes seen as a curse for sins committed in the past. Today Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans, reminds us that as believers we may stand in grace and may even boast in our affliction because Jesus who is the Source of our hope always gives us the grace to persevere in hope.

As Christians, we should be proud that we have not lost faith in Him, God who never discriminates His people. He is not choosy upon hearing all the complaints and groans of His people. At the appointed time, our prayers will always be answered as long as we are patient in hope and wait for His time because God's time is not ours. In difficult moments when we are almost desperate, God the Holy Spirit who always inspires, reminds us not to lose hope, but to surrender completely to God's will.

Brothers and sisters, let us always submit our will to God, asking that our daily plans and activities and life services may be pleasing and in accordance with God's will. Thus, our lives will always be blessed. God bless us all.



Reflection on Romans 5:1-2 by Sr. Yanti Purnawati SFSC

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Contra Spem | Hope against Hope

“In hope against hope he believed…” — Romans 4:18 (NASB) 


 


Life is unexpected, challenging and could be devastating. Relying on our own power to survive is proven fallacious. The pandemic has taught the world of how weak we are, just when we thought we could manage everything. Even without the pandemic we have to be ready when difficulties come. Abraham, known as Father of the faithful, set a great example for us in Today’s reading.

It was when God promised to make him a father of many nations from his own offspring, of his old barren wife, Sara – while  he himself was about a hundred years of age, as good as dead (v.19). In hope against hope he believed (v.18). Verse 20 says, “…yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God”. Believing in God is not only in hope for a better situation regarding our well-being, but moreover a challenge whether or not we give glory to God in any circumstances.

Are we dealing with impossibilities? Does darkness ahead scare you? Has fear started to weaken us? Let’s hope against hope as Abraham did. It’s like the Lord Jesus ignored all the doubts for the synagogue ruler’s faith on Jesus - regarding the death of his daughter. Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” (Mark 5:36). Abraham's faith is based on “…God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that do not exist” (v.17). Our God is the Lord over any hopelessness. Just believe. To God be all the glory! Amen!

 


Reflection on Romans 4:13-25 by Desire Litaay 

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Secundum Gratiam | According to Grace

"However, to the one who does not work but trust God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness." — Romans 4:5





 
Today’s reading was a bit confusing and baffling for me, and I needed to read it a few more times. In the end, it spoke to me of two messages: (1) God is Lord to everyone, and (2) that everything is grace.

Today’s verses remind of this truth – God is for everyone. He has said it thousands of years ago – that Jesus actually came for us sinners! He is not just the Lord of the righteous, but moreso of sinners like me who need Him more. He has that much Love in Him that can contain us all in His Kingdom should we be willing to do so. He never imposes, as this is what it means to have free will, but His invitation is extended to all of us. He is loving, generous and understanding. God is inclusive – and what a comfort that brings to a sinner like me. May this encourage me more to try to sin less every day. This is what Romans chapter 4 verse 12 tells me: “And He is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.“

The second message to me is this – that everything is grace. Even my faith is grace. Everything is grace, and that grace is open for everyone, should we choose to accept it. How humbling it is to be loved and adored so much by God who has dominion over everything but loves me for all that I am. It reminded me of a line in a book I previously read – we all know that we have a God-shaped void in our hearts that only God can fill, but do you know that in God’s heart, there is also space meant only for you and you alone? And that God will forever hold that space in His heart until we are ready to go home to Him. And for me, this will always be both humbling and amazing.

May we go through life knowing that God loves us and loves us individually, and that everything is grace available for us, should we only choose to receive it. May God bless you today.


Reflection on Romans 4:1-12 by Blessie Sto Tomas

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Fides Lesu | Faith in Christ

"This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." — Rom 3:22-23 




Reflecting on the beautiful theological statement which the blessed St. Paul had written in verses 22-23 above. It's simply unimaginable that the Son of God set aside His Royal Robes, stepped onto the earth in lowly human form, to save me, an angry and sinful man from the consequences of my poor choices in life.

In another part of the Bible, St Paul also wrote,"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21). It's mind-blowing. Someone who was sinless all His life on earth would bear the sins of the world when He gave up His Spirit on the cross.

Knowing that I am loved so deeply by my Saviour gives me confidence that no sin of mine could separate me from my Saviour and no good works of mine could earn my way into His favour and grace, but what is needed of me is to simply trust and acknowledge Him as my God, and loving Saviour. I will close this short sharing with a beautiful song by Maranatha Singers, as an invitation for Jesus to enfold us all in His loving arms and satisfy the desires of our hungry hearts and soul. That the Spirit of God will infill us and make us whole. Amen.

Spirit Song – Maranatha Singers
Oh, let the Son of God enfold you
with his Spirit and his love;
Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.
Oh, let him have the things that hold you,
and his Spirit, like a dove,
Will descend upon your life and make you whole.

Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.
Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.

Oh, come and sing the song with gladness
as your hearts are filled with joy.
Lift your hands in sweet surrender to his name.
Oh, give him all your tears and sadness,
give him all your years of pain,
And you'll enter into life in Jesus' name.

Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.
Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.

Oh, let the Son of God enfold you
with his Spirit and his love;
Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.
Oh, let him have the things that hold you,
and his Spirit, like a dove,

Will descend upon your life and make you whole.
Will descend upon your life and make you whole. 



Reflection on Romans 3:21-31 by Chris Tan

Monday, October 11, 2021

Ex Operibus Legis | Works of The Law

"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin." - Rom 3:20 (NIV)

 

 


Paul says that both Jews and Gentiles are all under the power of sin (10) so that no one is better than the other (9). No one can be 'safe'  from the dominion of sin. Challenges and trials are present all around us as well as within us. Our thoughts, words, actions are polluted by our nature as sinners.

So if God reveals himself to us, will we automatically become holy and become His faithful followers? No. It is not automatically. The more we know the Scriptures the more we know about sin. Similarly, when a child does not know that stealing is evil, he will continue to steal and steal. But when he knows the law that stealing is evil, then he will know that it is not worth doing. That's what Paul said, that the Torah opened the way for people to know sin (20).

But even though stealing is a sin, why do so many people steal? Rules cannot prevent humans from sinning. It was what actually happened with the Jews. Torah, which was the guideline, was not able to prevent humans' desire to sin. Moreover, the law of Torah is numerous. There are 613 laws in Torah. It's even impossible for humans to do all the laws. No man can save himself by the virtue of deeds. However, thanks to God, that it is God Himself who has carried out (fulfilled) the Torah perfectly through His Son, so Torah is not a condition of salvation. Salvation is completely a gift, and the only way to receive it is through faith.

So there is no other way for humans to be saved than to hope in God's grace. The Bible often tells that God has a concern for humans.  Not because humans are perfect, but because we are fragile, weak, sinful and need the grace of God.

The main thing Paul is trying to say is that salvation is a gift from God and it is not the result of human efforts. We should not do good in order to get salvation from God, but we should do good because God loves us.

 

 

Reflection on Roman 3:9-20 by Fr. Fransiskus Diaz, SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Lustitia Dei | The Righteousness of God

"But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?" — Romans 3:5 (NASB) 


Photo by Garon Piceli from Pexels


One day, a kid broke a plate when she tried to wash the dishes after lunch. This kid did not tell her dad because she was scared he would be angry. At night, she was silent. She felt worried and regretted it. She could not dare to look at her dad and make him suspicious - what happened to this child? Is she sick? Then, her dad asked, “Do you have something to tell?” There was no answer. The kid was so afraid if he knew it. And then stammering, she said to her father, “I am sorry, today I broke a plate”.  After saying this, she looked at her dad. Tears were flowing down her cheek. Hearing and seeing that, the father smiled at the daughter and said, “It is okay. You can learn from your mistake.” So the kid felt free and released from her depression.

Just like that story, a human being always makes mistakes toward God and others. Even though the person regrets but as long as there is no confession, one will be bound by depressed feeling. The effect is discomfort with oneself and others. There is no peace in heart. Thus, confession is a way to get peace as it is an openness to admit failure and mistakes honestly

From God perspective, before a person admits his sin, it is already known and forgiven. And if someone comes before Him to confess, He will stretch His hand and accept the person since God is merciful. We are so grateful to have such God. Having a forgiving and loyal God is a blessing for a Christian. Sin makes human beings unfree but coming to God liberates one from worry and fear. 

A question to examine our heart is, what makes us sin today? And what makes us afraid to come before God?


Reflection on Romans 3:1-8 by Fr. Aris Mada, SVD 
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Forma Veritatis | The Truth

"No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit..." — Romans 2:29  (NLT) 


Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash



Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this passage, Paul was admonishing the believers to live according to what they believe. For a study comparison, Paul used the Jewish people as an example. Although they are the heirs of the promise of God to Abraham, but what happened instead they became and acted like unbelievers. They, having seen the fruition of God's promise of Messiah lived among them, didn't believe Him instead they killed Him. They have become apostates toward the things of God. In other words, they have been blinded by the light of the Gospel, that actually should have saved them. It was not because of the Gospel , but because of the hardness of their heart. 

This example of Jewish people gave us a warning, that it is possible to know the Truth but didn't have the Truth. To know everything about Jesus, but does not have him as the Lord of your life. This warning also was given by Jesus in Luke 6:46, "And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say." 

In closing, one way to know and to measure if you are the child of God or not, is the desire to do everything to please Him (may not be perfect, but striving to be). That desire was put there in your heart by the Holy Spirit, who was sealed in the heart of believer at the moment of salvation. Please examine your heart. Amen.



 Reflection on Romans 2:17-29 by Pst. Devy Nanlohy 
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Occulta hominum | Secrets of men

“God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus“ – Romans 2:16.

Photo by Kamaji Ogino from Pexels


Do you have any secrets? For sure you have. Because each of us has some stories hidden deep inside. It is not wrong to have such secrets. Yet, it is important to allow God to judge your stories. He is not a judge without mercy. But, he is a merciful one who wants to help you face your stories. 

God the Father sends his beloved Son to be with you in all your circumstances. Especially in those moments of your life which are the most painful. It could happen that you keep your wounds far from the divine Medician. You don't need to share them with anyone. But Apostle Paul invites you to let the Son of God touch your scars. 

Don't be afraid. He knows how to cure you. You need to make such a step if you desire to live a peaceful and joyful life. Otherwise, you will always feel sad and depression will be waiting at your door.  

It is not a problem that you committed awful sins. Trust in the Divine Mercy. It is not a big issue that you have bad experiences. Almost everyone has to go through painful situations. Go to Jesus Christ. Embrace his cross and tell him everything. God the Father wrote the divine law in your heart. It is the law of love. So do not be a prisoner of hatred but witness of God's love. Yes, you are a beloved child of the heavenly Father. 


Reflection on Romans 2:12-16 by Fr. Józef Trzebuniak SVD. 

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Non sicut Deum | Not as God

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God “ – Romans 1:21.

 


God the Father created all human beings. So their duty is to worship and give thanks to God. Yet, many people do not pray. They prefer to stay far from God. It's very sad and painful, especially for God who loves them. The consequences of such a life are ungodliness and unrighteousness (v. 18).

We sometimes consider why people hurt one another and commit sins. In the passage from the Letter to Romans, we find the answer. If we forget about God, we find other gods and serve them. We become slaves of our passions and desires. We behave like monsters and make our world like hell. Moreover, we try to justify our bad behavior. For we do not want to follow God's commandments.

Why does God the Father allow it to happen? Because he gave us free will. We can exchange the truth for a lie, worship, and serve the creature rather than Creator (v. 25). It is a sad story.

Nonetheless, we as followers of Christ praise him. We bless God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We recognize other people as our brothers and sisters. We know God's righteousness. We keep praying for the whole world and even for our enemies. Because we look for a better world - the Kingdom of God. Thus, we are proud as God's beloved children. Amen.


Reflection on Romans 1:18-32 by Fr. Józef Trzebuniak SVD. 

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Non Erubesco | Not Ashamed

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ… “ – Romans 1:16 (NLT)

 

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro from Pexels
 


The faith we have in Christ offers a very essential thing men fight for, which is the eternal salvation. Religious people all over the world strive to do good to obtain the reward of future assurance. Romans 1:16 says that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes. Although true believers are marked by their good deeds, it is not because of the good deeds that they are saved. But through faith in Christ.

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ…” (v.16). Why the Apostle Paul needs to emphasize about not being ashamed of Christ? Is it difficult to testify about Christ?

The beauty of the Truth we have in Christ exceeds the world’s wisdom. God knows we are weak and impossible to save ourselves. Therefore the Son of God – who has the same nature as the Father, incarnated in human form and died for our sins. Never before, in any religions, that the Powerful Divine Person comes to die for redeeming undeserved sinners while all they are asked for is just to believe in Him.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch lady, was arrested in 1944 for hiding Jewish refugees from The Nazis in The Netherlands. With a Bible she had together with her sister, she shared her faith to the prisoners and converted many of them to Christianity. One of her famous quotes is “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.” Her sister died because of an illness in the prison with a very deep faith, while she was released from the prison a week before all other people of her group were sent to gas chamber. Later it was found that her release was a clerical error. She continued working underground bravely and saved around 800 Jews.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago, I did not have enough resources to survive or to ease the case. Mostly due to my personality who just could not share much with others. It was a huge struggle inside myself when I realized I would do the chemotherapy. Thinking of the consequences that I had to stop working as my body would be weak, who would take care of my young children, how could I hide my bald head, what should I say to others who see me, would they think it was God’s punishment or…, and what about the financial support to do all the expensive procedures and so on. I remember reading Lord Jesus’ words in Luke 12:6-7 during that difficult moment: “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The rest was a magical experience. I prayed for Jesus’ will as the doctor was writing the prescription for my first chemo, when he suddenly stopped and asked for my medical records before the surgery. He then found out some statements there which gave indication that my cancer did not spread. And so no chemo needed, but just taking a pill each day for hormone control and so the doctor tore the prescription. I did not have to spend millions of Rupiahs for that procedure, and the medicine was so affordable.

Do we still have so many resources to back us up? Are we wealthy and healthy enough? Are we good enough – never mess up our lives, always being good people or feel good about ourselves? Until Christ is the only one we have, we would never get the message. Have you testified to the world about the goodness of God in Christ in your life? Please do. He is your Treasure. God bless you. 



Reflection on Romans 1:16-17 by Desire Litaay 

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, September 27, 2021

Gratiae Spiritalis | The Spiritual Gift

"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." - Rom 1:11-12



Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash



Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

Have you ever heard a famous saying, “A good Roman can go anywhere”? The intention of the statement is that the solid understanding of the book of Romans helps Christians to understand all the other books of the Bible - the Old Testament and the New Testament. Studying Paul’s epistle to the Romans, we can learn the content of the Christian faith like nowhere else in the New Testament.

Paul opened his letter with greetings and his longing to visit the Christians in Rome, and meet them in person. So that he might use his gift to strengthen the Christian Romans'  spiritual life. (v.11), after that, he hoped that they might be mutually encouraged by each other's faith (v.12).

What are the spiritual gifts? Some of us think they are prophesy, healing, miracles, teaching, preaching, wisdom, etc. Actually, it is more than those just listed. According to its original language (v.11), it is the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue. Such as, when someone needs to vent, we are there to listen without any judgment and interruptions. When someone is in a challenging situation, we are there to encourage. When someone is lonely, we are there to care. When someone is weak, we are there to support. So a spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to express our faith effectively (in word or deed) for the strengthening of someone else’s faith.  It is not important to label the deeds as a specific spiritual gift, but it is important to have much desire to strengthen people’s faith.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, for our own reflections:
- Have I asked God to give me a pure heart to be led by the Holy Spirit?
- Have I asked God to let me cross the  path of someone at the end of this day so that I can share my spiritual gift to strengthen him/ her in God's promises and be more joyful in His grace? 

Amen. God bless you.



Reflection on Romans 1:8-15 by Veralin Uneputty

Thursday, September 23, 2021

In Gentibus | Among Gentiles

“And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” - Romans 1:6



Dear brothers and sisters,

One day, I was asked to celebrate a Eucharist in an orphanage community in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. This was a special moment for me as I could serve those who are marginalized. Most of them do not know who their parents are because since they were babies they were brought to this place and fostered by some religious sisters. Not only that, some of them are disabled children. After celebrating a mass, we had a wonderful moment together when we danced and sang together. I could see how happy they were in their personal circumstances. I realized how important a community that grows and brings love to one another is. Besides, to convince these members that they belong to one community and they are not alone. To make sure that these children are accepted because feeling accepted has a massive impact to grow their self-esteem as this world promotes a “throw-away culture”.

If we reflect on what Paul the apostle said in his letter in Romans 1:6, he emphasizes the community life. It means that we cannot live alone in this world, we cannot rely on ourselves for our power. We need others to complement ourselves as human beings. From others, we can learn a lot of things such as being gritty, perseverance, resilience, and commitment. Moreover, our community life must be centered on Jesus Christ. By this, we can release and let go our egoism, arrogance and self-importance to establish peace and equality then serve Jesus who is present in those who are suffering and marginalized.

Indeed, we are called to belong to Jesus. Sometimes, we feel unaccepted by our surroundings. We are removed from our family, community, or society but remember that Jesus is always with us. He never lets us walk alone. Once we belong to Jesus, he will live forever in our hearts.


Reflection on Romans 1:1-7 by Fr. Aris Mada, SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Cognoscere | Examine Yourselves

"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?... " - 2 Cor 13:5 (ESV)






For today's verses, I want to focus more on the call for self-examination.

It is a call Paul makes on the last chapter of this book, and it is a relevant call then as much as it is now. We are given this golden opportunity for a pause – in a pandemic nonetheless. It has personally given me so much time to reflect. The world slowed down and most of us found ourselves separated from our usual routines and distractions. It is such a blessed time to self-examine, to go deep into ourselves, and hopefully find Jesus living in the depths of our hearts.

The verses today remind us that even if Jesus was crucified, He lives by God's power – the unimaginable blessing of allowing our weakness to turn for God's purpose and glory. I will always be in awe as to how God never conforms to the ways of this world and has always set the path for the truth. He sees the glory in what may the world see as weakness, and he sees life that can come from the death of Christ. His love sees us through, and I will always be in awe.

And finally, I have always sought the blessings of others upon me. There is such anointing in saying "God bless you". There is power in God's Word, and I find it strengthens further when it is said upon you – "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

I wish this upon you, brothers and sisters. Rest assured you shall be in my prayers today, and I ask the same of you – that may God be glorified as we pray for each other.


Reflection on 2 Corinthians 13:1-14 by Blessie Sto Tomas

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Libentissime | Spend Myself

"Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you... I don't want what you have - I want you... I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you..."  — 2 Cor 12:14-15 (NLT)





Apostle Paul emphasized that his ministry to the Corinthian church was not for profit.  Why did the Apostle Paul make this affirmation?  The reason was because at that time, there were "fake apostles" who preached the word of God in order to earn money.  The apostle Paul did not want his ministry to be hampered because of money problems.  Therefore, he refused to accept money from the Corinthian church.  Instead, he worked hard as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3).  Since the Apostle Paul's motivation in serving was to do God's will, not to seek profit, he did not want his ministry to be disrupted by money matters.

The attitude of the Apostle Paul teaches an important thing: our service in the church should not be based on the motivation to seek profit.  What about each of our services? If we still have a desire for profit in our service, we must evaluate our love for God and for others.

Currently, many medical personnel and volunteers are giving their time and energy freely. There are others who donate blood, distribute masks and food for no charge. At home, we see a housewife cooks for her neighbor who is in self-isolation.  Some of us comfort friends who are sick or grieving and pray for them.

Ironically there are also those who are always looking for profit and do not want to lose anything.  They do not want to give up their money, time, positions, nor status.  Because of their greed, the safety of many people was neglected.  The desire for profit will ignore many while the desire for self-giving will save many.

 

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 12:11-21 by Fr. Fransiskus Diaz, SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Friday, September 17, 2021

Excusemus | Defending Ourselves

"Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? ... everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening." — 2 Cor 12: 19 (NIV) 

Photo by Papaioannou Kostas on Unsplash

In this passage, Saint Paul expressed his concern for the Corinthians. He was worried about their behavior and reactions which adhered to their personal principles which he found difficult in respecting others.  They did not even respect Paul who was responsible for them at that time.  As the person in charge, of course Paul felt pressured by the situation he was in.  However, he had to straighten out the situation, he had to express how he felt about the community, whatever the cost.  And so, in Verses 20 and 21 Saint Paul expressed his heart clearly to them.

Living in today’s world, whether we are given the task of being in charge or even any other tasks, in the course of time each of us is going to encounter various difficulties, obstacles and challenges, both from friends, others and even from ourselves.  Facing such a complicated problem, will there be a solution if we just sit back and wait for a change?  Of course, not.  Like Saint Paul, we must have the courage to express what we feel.  Whether it’s anger, disappointment, sadness, hurt or satisfaction, happiness or any other feelings, we should express them so that our friends especially those who are working with us can understand the situation we are struggling with.

Through Saint Paul, Jesus is telling us that our struggles as Christians are quite difficult.  Intense communication with God and others will greatly help us continue the pilgrimage of a more fruitful life in developing God’s kingdom in this world. May God give us peace.



Reflection on 2 Corinthians 12:11-21 by Sr. Yanti Purnawati SFSC

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Virtus in Infirmitate | Perfect in Weakness

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” - 2 Cor 12: 9 (ESV)

 



The Apostle Paul knew very well that he was remarkably blessed with extraordinary experiences with the Lord. He saw and heard things others didn’t. He was entrusted with divine revelations and visions even secrets. Such a privilege to be invited to God’s place. It was that great that he could easily boast on his personal achievements (v.4-5).

However, to keep him from becoming conceited or proud, God put a thorn in his flesh. To be more specific, “a messenger from Satan to torment him”.  He begged the Lord three times to take the thorn away but God did not grant it (v.7-8). One may ask, why was it important for God to put such a thorn in his flesh? Why is weakness a valuable perspective? Why not keeping him strong so he could work even harder for the Lord?

Let’s contemplate on our own lives. When we are weak, we seek for help, we are careful, we consider things comprehensively, but I think most of all, it forces us to depend on God – to put our trust and hope in Him. On the other hand, when we feel strong, we are confident, often careless, less calculative, might overlook any potential problems and mostly we trust our own selves – we don’t really need God. Arrogance separates us from Him.

There is a significant difference the Bible provides about this:

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert, and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt that is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream, and does not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.’” (Jer 17:5-8).

We think we knew already that we have to trust God. But to be honest, it’s not easy to depend on God completely, right? We want to add our own judgment and analysis. It’s hard to just keep calm and wait for the Lord. Our fear just pops up regardless the wisdom we gain. It is what happens to me in the matter of working to provide for my little family, although He kept me amazed with His own ways many times. We are prone to anxieties, while He prepares abundant blessings for those who trust in Him, but curses the other way around. The word ‘curse’ is a very strong warning. He wants to be our sole confidence - other than that is a disbelief.

Are we somehow helpless – spiritually, physically, financially? Moreover, after following Christ wholeheartedly, do we face more challenges and trials? Let’s rejoice, because we are about to see the magnificent work of God. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (v.9). Even Satan can be God’s tool for His purpose. Praise be to God - the powerful omnipotent One, nothing or no one ever exists can be compared to. Amen.





Reflection on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 by Desire Litaay 
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, September 13, 2021

Gloriatur | Boast (2)

"If  I must  boast, I will  boast of  the  things that  show  my  weakness."  — 2 Cor 11:30 (NIV) 


Photo by Luke Pamer on Unsplash



Reflecting on the Scripture text today - the life of Paul before and after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Before the resurrected Christ revealed His Divinity to Paul, with these soul-scorching words which burned deep into the core of his zealous Jewish soul, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?", Paul was in his own words, a Pharisee of Pharisees, a high flyer in the Jewish religious community and was armed with letters from the high priest to weed out (exterminate) followers of what he deemed as blasphemous teachings of Jesus. In this Divinely-appointed encounter, Jesus revealed Himself as the resurrected Christ and gave this fiery preacher a new Mission in life. A mission to bring the gospel to the Gentile nations and preach the Good News until his dying breath as a prisoner in chains.

Before his encounter with the Risen Christ, the Zealous Saul (the Apostle Paul), had relied on his human wit - being trained by Gamaliel, a man held in great esteem by all Jews, and faithfully adhered to complex religious rules that bounded the Pharisees. He had considered himself a man of God and for God, and had often boasted of his Jewish lineage and great learning to obtain letters to persecute early Christian followers. 

Yet in the aftermath of his Damascus encounter with the Risen Christ, his spiritual eyes were finally opened to see that Jesus was truly the Son of God, and the Promised Messiah whom all the Major and Minor Prophets had written about and longed to see in their lifetime. It was also in fact the fulfillment of all the laws with 2 beautiful Commandments that bounded all the Laws of God: 
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40).

This was why he was able to write with much joy even in the depths of suffering these encouraging words to the persecuted Christians in the church of Philippi, "If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead..." (Philippians 3:4-11).
Words that parallel what he wrote in his 2nd Epistle to the church in Corinth, "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying." (2 Corinthians 11:30-31).

Therefore, my personal reflections in the light of Paul's writing is this: As a child of God, if there is anything to be boasted, it will be in God's love for me - a broken and sinful human, who was destined for Hell, if Christ had not revealed Himself to me as the Son of God, and living personal God and Saviour - and propelled me on this new life journey to proclaim His faithfulness and goodness in my own life until my dying breath. 

It's my prayers too, as we live in unprecedented times - where an invisible virus has confounded brilliant scientists and top government officials, while wreaking a horrendous toll in human lives and stalled economies - that the Church of Christ may rise up to proclaim the glory of our Risen LORD who has the power to raise the dead and heal the sick, in body, mind, and spirit, because we truly have no idea when our Lord will return to rule the Earth with His conquering heavenly hosts. Amen.

I will close with these Spirit-inspired words - written by the Prophet who had experienced much heartache in his lifetime, witnessing the apostasy of the nation of Israel, the departure of God's Shekinah glory from His Temple, and an unbearable desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem by a pagan king Antiochus IV in 167 BC:

"This is what the Lord says: 'Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord. 'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh – Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the wilderness in distant places. For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.'" (Jeremiah 9:23-26).




Reflection on 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 by Chris Tan

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Gloriatur | Boast

"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord" - 2 Cor 10:17.




We usually quarrel with people - even with our friends and family members - because we are too proud. For we know better. We are wiser than others. It happens everywhere. 

Apostle Paul teaches us how to be humble. You can be a leader in the company or a pastor in the church, but you need to humble yourself. You are not so important. Who are you that you boast? If you like to boast it means that you are "walking according to the flesh" (v. 2).

The evil spirits are much wiser than you. Only if you are a humble person, you can overcome those divine powers. For the Holy Spirit works on you when you humble yourself. You do not have to obey other people but Christ. Especially, in moral arguments and discussions about truth. You are to obey Jesus. The Son of God could achieve success in his ministry because he was obedient. He didn't follow only his knowledge, but fulfill the will of his Father. 

As Christians, we belong to Christ. Yes, we can boast but boast as humble stewards of Christ. Yes, we can boast because we are disciples of the Gospel. Let us always boast in the Lord, Jesus Christ. O Lord, help us to become more humble in all circumstances. May your Holy Spirit change our attitude towards one another. 



Reflection on 2 Corinthians 10:1-17 by Fr. Józef Trzebuniak, SVD.
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, September 6, 2021

Sufficientia | Abound in good work

"God can bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." - 2 Cor 9:8


Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash



My brothers and sisters, 

Near my community house, there is an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) where people can draw their money without going to a bank. In front of the ATM, there is an old woman with her stuff who is sitting there waiting for people’s generosity after drawing their money. Her life depends on people’s kindness. This old woman catches my attention every time I pass her because she reminds me of people’s relationship with God. Our life depends on God’s Grace and without God, we are nothing. Also, about human’s relationship in this world that we rely on each other.

As Paul reflects the Corinthians that God blessed them abundantly, God also blesses us in all things and all times. We can reflect on our life now, that what we have is from God and God always gives the best thing that we need. Undeniably, besides all the material world that we get in this life, we have Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. This is a precious gift that we have. We may not have all things but by having Jesus, we are rich in faith, hope and love. Those aspects empower us to get through every situation we deal with. Hence, people who always see God as a guarantee will never lack in life.

Since God has provided such things that we need, God impels us to be generous to one another like what Jesus commands in Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbour as yourself”. Rethinking of the old woman that I use to see in front of the nearby ATM, and many people who are suffering, you and I could ask, how wide is our love to others as we love ourselves? 

Then Paul reminds us, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”. This means that what we do will get back to us in return. Often, we are worried if what we give will not generate the same gain from others but indeed, God will measure our sacrifice and give us an indescribable gift.




Reflection on 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 by Fr. Aris Mada, SVD 
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Templum Dei | Temple of God

“Because we are the temple of the living God” - 2 Cor 6:16

 

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels


This Word of God reminds us of the sanctity of our bodies, hearts and souls because we were formed or created by God in His own image and likeness. Many of us do not realize that our bodies are God's temples. Evil deeds, drunkenness and various kinds of heresy and idolatry take us far away from God. Often we don't even realize that our sins are piling up and we need to go for a confession. But precisely at times like that, usually we are convinced by the devil that we haven't sinned much and so it's okay not to confess. On the other hand, the devil laughs because it makes him freer to control us if we do follow and obey him.

Facing hardships and difficulties in today’s world, there are temptations in the midst of so much suffering due to the global pandemic. The choice is in our hands, we are the one who will determine the welfare of our souls after our death. If we realize that we are the temple of the living God, surely we will never make a wrong choice for the welfare of our souls in the eternity. May God bless our intentions.




Reflection on 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:4 by Sr. Yanti Purnawati, SFSC 

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Deus Efficit | God Prepares

"God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit." – 2 Cor 5:5 (NLT)


Photo by Andry Roby on Unsplash


Did you ever experience fear of death or dying? If you did, you are not alone, even David, the King of Israel and the man who after God’s own heart, sometimes was afraid of dying (Psalm 55:4). Or did you ever worry about end-of-life issues? For example, some people fear that they will be a burden to others in their final years or the sufferings that will be experienced by their loved ones, such as spouses, children and parents after they’re gone.

In Paul the Apostle’s 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, he reminded the Corinthian Christians and us modern Christians, that our earthly life – that is our body to be precise – is like a tent (Tabernacle). We move from one goal to another to fulfill God’s mission. And when the mission is accomplished, this tent will be destroyed. It is not our home. Our home is in the afterlife in heaven (v.1). So that all the wealth, all the physical appearances, and all material assets are mortal. On the other hand, the suffering, groaning, and burdens are mortal as well. Sufferings, etc., are consequences of living in the mortal tent.

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, Paul was not seeking death, but he was contented to accept it. He wasn’t worried nor disturbed by it. What could be the cause of his confidence? Because Paul wrote in v.5, God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit – NLT. God works us out. He makes us fit and prepares us by a course of training until the faith grows stronger. God sent His Spirit to us in advance, to guide us and to help us.

According to my experience, God has trained me in some steps:

1. Setting my priorities in order (Exodus 20:3, NLT).

“You must not have any other god but me”

Sometimes in my life, I was worried about being separated from my child and husband for the rest of my life and was anxious because of those troubling thoughts. During those times that God was training me, He led me away from my loved ones, for a season. During my contemplation, I learned to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10) and He is in control. I also learned to let everyone and everything I loved in God’s hand. Since then, I have learned to be careful not to let anyone in my life become more important or be set at a priority higher than my relationship with God.

2. Making me holy and whole as an image of God (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, MSG)

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, makes you holy and whole, puts you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keeps you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!”

Only the broken can be made whole. There is no mistake, scar, flaw, discrepancy, failure, or sin that is too much for Him to handle or make Him stay away from me. He accepted me in all of my brokenness. God also used my pain, suffering, and brokenness to draw me close to Him. One step at a time, God helped me to find and patch the missing puzzle pieces of my soul. In order that I learned to stop struggling with being accepted by others and started feeling confident in who I am. The Holy Spirit leads me to be holy because God is holy. God had put me together – my spirit, soul, and body. I am whole and holy and fit for the coming of Jesus Christ.

3. Making me content (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV)

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the secret to being content in any and every situation. He gives me the strength to do all things. Being content is the first and foremost step to help us in accepting our mortality. What am I supposed to do to feel contented? By identifying my values in life, and it is found in prioritizing my relationship with God in life (see step 1). Therefore, I know my driving force is to please Him and glorify Him in whatever I do and in all situations (see step 2).

Dear brothers and sisters,

Be confident in facing whatever happens in this earthly life, even if it will lead us to our own death. "For God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit" – 2 Corinthians 5:5 NLT.

God bless you.




Reflection on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 by Veralin Uneputty