Monday, September 27, 2021
Thursday, September 23, 2021
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
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
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.
Sunday, September 19, 2021
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
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.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
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.