I just finished my first examination paper yesterday, and it is a huge burden lifted off from my shoulders, one down, two more to go! In the midst of my examination preparation, I still find the time to listen and ponder on the word of God. I am thankful that my parents are praying for me for my examinations which has given me confidence. Pardon me for my late post.
Last Saturday (29 November 2014), the Church of St Francis Xavier celebrated the feast of St Francis Xavier. It was a celebration on the life of St Francis Xavier and it dawned on me that before he was a saint, he was a proud person as he was born to a wealthy family and went to the University Of Paris where St Ignatius of Loyola was studying at also. It was St Ignatius that guided St Francis to put away his pride and to form The Society of Jesus or Jesuits in 1534. Jesus works in marvelous ways of bringing about conversion in the hearts of men and to make his presence known through other people. According to sources, there are 38 members of the Society of Jesus who have been declared Blessed and another 38 who have been canonized as saints. Both the saints have taught me to persevere, have humility and humbleness of self to reach out to others as a Catholic witness.
The gospel reading also tells us to be watchful and alert as, “you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33-37). It is not a message to scare us into hiding but a meaningful message which is to prepare ourselves in the lead up to Advent and Christmas, both of which are joyous celebrations as it marks the birth of Jesus. Christmas has been largely commercialized as a festive season of gift exchange and good food. Most people miss the message that it is also a time to be re-born again in Jesus, which is to reconcile our past, make amends for our mistakes and be mature Christians.
Just like the two saints, we are called to be a witness of God which is to be prepared now or we will never be prepared at all. The past week has been a flurry of activities as I finished up my miscellaneous school assignments and attended Catholic Society meetings. During the sharing at last week’s cell group meeting, we were posed this question, “At Christmas, what are we looking for this Christmas?” It got me thinking that I want to spend more quality time with Jesus, my family, friends and also make time for myself to do some writing and get my energy level back up again.
I also attended a Holy Hour that was conducted by Fr Alex and it was one of the meaningful and special moments in my Catholic journey as it got me into seriously contemplating and revising my praying habits. Throughout the Holy Hour, we were made to reflect on passages from the bible and real life examples to just find our composure in God’s presence and be in deep thought. I learn that it is important to also invite the Holy Spirit and not to expect miracles but more of a communication line with Jesus.
Since I know that there are people praying for me, I have also learned to pray for others as their needs might be more urgent than mine, and this has allowed me to put others before myself. These days, I am learning to keep my emotions in check through prayer, trust God more and just surrender my negative thoughts in his hands. One of the greater struggles is to pray for those we dislike so that they might change for the better and Jesus can convert even the hardest or coldest of men’s hearts.
MSGR Philip Heng who was the main celebrant of the St Francis Xavier mass spoke about a real life story of how a Catholic lady put up with her mother in law for 25 years; her mother in law hated her for no reason but the lady refused to retaliate but kept praying to Jesus and crying herself to sleep every night. When the mother in law fell sick, she took it upon herself to feed and care for her despite the odds. One day, the mother in law on the hospital bed asked the lady, ” Why do you still care for me despite knowing that I do not like you at all?” The lady replied, ” It’s because Jesus told me to do so.” The mother in law burst into tears and said, “I want to know your Jesus.” In the end, the mother in law was converted and baptized before she passed on.
I believe that despite being put to the test, a prayer can help a person, whether in a small or big way and that short prayers throughout the day will help us thank and appreciate Jesus and those that he sends along our way. This will help us to spread the message of Jesus to others and help us to be true witnesses of Christ!
I would like to end my sharing with a hymn “The Servant Song” which I identified with during mass which summarizes both the life of St Francis Xavier and St Ignatius of Loyola during their journey with Christ where their faith never wavered and they continued to proclaim God’s word to many countries.
“Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too
We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load
I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the the peace you long to hear.”
Rejoice in the Lord always and let us prepare for an ADVENTure with Jesus as we prepare to welcome him!
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong