This reflection will be segregated into three parts, the celebration of All Saints Day, the solemn observance of All Souls Day and my reflection of how SIM’s Catholic Society’s ” Call of Peter” series has made known that there is hope for us, sinners.
The first part would be the celebration of All Saints Day on 1st November 2014. Since it was a day of obligation for All Souls Day as well, the Church of the Holy Spirit which I attended was packed to the brim so that people were made to stand outside the church. This was my first time experiencing such a crowded church, but the question was “Were Catholics merely fulfilling their obligation?” I felt that both days should be treated equally as the saints pray with us and we pray for those departed to be made ready for heaven.
In the gospel reading for All Saints Day, Jesus touches on the attributes that make a saint and that saints are ordinary people made extraordinary by their acts of humility, compassion, love for others and even their enemies. Jesus assures us that through his teachings we can “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven” (Matthew 5:1-12).
We are also called to be saints through our actions of surrendering our struggles to Jesus, the joy of experiencing Jesus in our hearts and our actions of giving the love of Jesus to others. It is important to know that the saints never did waver through the face of temptations and hardships as they struggled to seek Jesus; and his providence is sufficient. In our lives, sometimes we think that we can do without Jesus and that is a misconception as without Jesus, we are nothing.He created us in his image, to continue his good work of eradicating sin and bringing joy to the oppressed, the weak, those who are suffering and those who are lonely.
Jesus calls us to follow his beatitudes of those that are poor in spirit, mourning, the meek, those that are thirsting for righteousness, merciful, clean of heart , peacemakers, persecuted for the sake of righteousness will experience the reward of eternal life. In our weaknesses, Jesus is present to help us as he knows that we stumble and we fall but at the end of day, we still get up through his grace. Therefore we are able to be saints to others by putting Jesus and others first before ourselves. The world may change but Jesus will never change.
The second part would be the solemn observation of All Souls’ Day on 2nd November 2014. I never liked the topic of death and would say that I try to avoid it as it brings back sad and dark memories of losing loved ones so dear to me. Ah, the fragility of life!
In the gospel reading for All Souls’ Day, Jesus speaks to the crowd and he promises that “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” (James 6:37-40). Rejection has always been an obstacle in my life as I have the fear and it has left me feeling lost and unworthy. Jesus always leads me back to restful waters to revive my drooping spirit through friends, family and even animals that have assured me that there is hope and mercy.
It is definitely painful to lose our loved ones and we remember those that have gone before us by offering masses for them so that we can pray for their souls to be purified for heaven, hence the notion of purgatory. I still struggle with regrets and guilt of not expressing my thoughts or appreciating those people close to me who have passed on when they were alive. Often, we take the present situation for granted and a simple affirmation of love or appreciation is often taken for granted.
Jesus does not abandon us in death as he promises that he will raise us up on the last day and that we will be reunited with our loved ones in the heavenly banquet. These past few weeks, I have been struggling with fatigue and restlessness but even so, I have learnt to surrender my fears and doubts to Jesus. He knows best and my best efforts are enough.
The last part of my sharing would be a short reflection of the “Call to Peter” series that was conducted last month by the students of SIM Catholic Society. The series focused on Christian identity, who Jesus is, the unconditional love of Jesus, knowing Jesus better, responding to Jesus and being able to see Jesus in our lives – how St Peter journeyed with Jesus.
I found the sharing and praise and worship sessions useful and inspiring as it helped me to reflect on my life as a Catholic, to grow more in faith and to help one another understand our struggles through sharing. Also, I am able to better understand Jesus’s teachings through the sharing of the seniors who give weekly sessions during the series. Their personal experiences helped me to relate better to the teachings of Jesus. Also, I think that it is more than a series or programme but a journey with Jesus. We are walking with him and trying to be able to understand our purpose and identity as Catholics better.
I am grateful for the friends that I have made from joining the Catholic Society and as we start a new month, may we continue to love and trust Jesus. God Bless!
“Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise
Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame”
– From the Inside Out, Hillsong United
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong