Day 4 of the OYP retreat marked the conclusion of the combined university retreat. Yes, it is difficult to leave the place which has been our home for the past 3 days and return to the secular world. However, it does not mark the end of our lives with Jesus but a beginning of a new one with him.
Session 8 was called “Moving with God” and its central theme was “What Are You Going to Give your Life for?” It was to move forward as Christians into Christmas with anticipation of the birth of Jesus. The bible passage was taken from Luke 12: 22-38 and it focused on the stories of St Simeon and Anna.
When Jesus was presented in the temple, “there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord.” Anna was now 84 years old, never left the temple served God with fasting and prayer. ” She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.”
Have we ever wondered what it will be like in our dying moment? Do we have the courage like Simeon to be ready to meet Jesus? I have planned for this moment and the legacy that I will leave behind for many generations. We need to have the eyes of Simeon and Anna to recognize God’s great works in our lives and know the areas that God is present.
For the past few days, areas such as the beauty of communion, fellowship and the Christian family were all channels where Jesus communicated with us by drawing us closer to him, sitting with us during our rest time and working his healing through us and the people around us.
Also, there are definitely limitations in culture and tradition but this could be changed in time hence the phrase “new wine in new wine skin”. We need to rebuild our lives by reinstating the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and use the culture and tradition to uphold Jesus.
These few days have been an eye opener to me that the Catholic community is more than just the various communities in the universities but we are “one church, one Jesus” as it is true that any household divided will fall and we would not want that to happen. Within our communities, we need to have Touch Time to be committed to Jesus and not for our own gains. Like shepherds, we are called to bring the sheep back to our flock, even the lost ones.
Looking forward, I think that the church that I would like to hand over to the next generation would be one with authenticity, warmth of communal spirit and to be willing to go far to put our lives on the line to make this goal a reality. The young people of the church are the catalyst for change and to foster the radical relationship of love with Jesus so that others can know him better.
Through this retreat, I realised the importance of prayer and praying communities. This is the only way to be sincere and to encourage a deepening of relationship with love for Jesus. His Grace, Archbishop William Goh also celebrated the closing mass with everyone and he spoke of Grace. It means “God’s unmerited favour”, but it also means to accept the many graces that have been given to us.
Once we accept the graces, we have to pray about using these graces for meaningful purposes and to obtain redemption from our sinful ways that is holding us back from experiencing God’s grace and mercy. In our celebration of Christmas, we have ushered in Jesus. Jesus has shown us his love, favour and mercy towards humanity. I realise that when we are weighed down by sin, Jesus is there. He is in the boat telling his disciples to cast their nets out to be filled. Jesus is always there.
I would like to thank the team from OYP (prayer and service team) and the dedicated OYP staff (Edwyn, Julianna, Christina) / interns and Fr Jude, Brian, Jovita and Sam, religious brothers and other priests for taking time and putting in effort in organizing the various activities, Sacrament of Reconciliation sharing sessions for the young people to re-connect with Jesus and to find rest in him. After mass, we partook in the final fellowship with friends from the different universities and took many photographs with his Grace Archbishop, William Goh.
Also, I am thankful for the facilities that were provided such as the food, rooms and place to find Jesus and to retire after a long day of activities. The planning was well done in having sessions that were thought provoking and challenged us to deepen our relationship with Jesus. It also made me put down my sins that were huge burdens on me and to be rejuvenated in the spirit to be made whole again.
It is through God’s grace that there is the Office For Young People (OYP) to reach out to young Catholics in giving them direction back to the Catholic faith through events and outreach efforts in evangelizing the Good News of God.
Also, it is a positive sign that Jesus is moving within so many young people who had the courage to share their experiences with everyone during the retreat on how God has touched their lives. God is working within the young people in building his church and communities.
Through this retreat, I have tried even harder not to be tempted and to pray more for God’s patience and strength instead, and to be there for others and to help them in whatever ways I can. Now I am able to welcome Jesus at Christmas and he is present in our lives and families till the end of time! Jesus is joy and it is in this joy that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit for evangelisation and be better Christians.
Praise God that this experience of the 4-day retreat will continue to stay with us and burn within our hearts to constantly remind us to pray , worship and extend the communal spirit to all aspects of our lives!
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong