As I am counting my blessings this week, I am glad I got to help people along the way – some of them friends, others strangers. Also, I am happy that the previous writing session that I led went well and our theme of compassion was the main focus under the umbrella of mercy. Each experience has instilled in me valuable lessons in character building and being grateful for life. It has allowed me to learn to help and to give without conditions.
In the busy underpass near the MRT stations, how many of us are approached by people asking us to sign up for that insurance plan and credit card? The answer? We are offered many instances and they do come with various terms and conditions. Sometimes, there is a need to read the fine print first before taking up such policies.
The gospel reading shows that Jesus had resilience and determination when he was journeying to Jerusalem. He was disappointed by the unwelcoming reception at the Samaritan village but he pressed on. Being merciful, he did not give in to his disciples request of burning down the village which was punishment.
Jesus encountered people on his journey and they had their own conditions before agreeing to follow Jesus. “And to another he said, follow me.”But he replied,”Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But Jesus answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”And another he said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God”(Luke 9:51-62).
There are always conditions and it is similar to a time when we want to be followers of Christ. Jesus is very patient as he just wants us to say Yes Lord!
I will follow you wherever you go. If we trust and accept Jesus, then we need to do away with these conditions. By opening our hearts to be followers of Jesus, our lives would be better because he will live in us.
The journey will be difficult and fraught with complications, but Jesus promises us that he will walk the path with us. Also, we need to be ready for the journey ahead by reconciling our own differences and trying out Jesus first in our lives. Only then will we have the confidence and resolution to follow Jesus, no matter where he is leading us. He will lead us away from our vices and addictions as he is the way and the light that brightens the path ahead for us.
It is important that we do not keep looking back on our past and focus into on the present as that is where Jesus is. If we keeping looking back and lamenting on the past, we can easily miss Jesus and we might end up further away from him.
Keeping our focus and fixing our eyes on Jesus is the key to be in union in happiness and peace with ourselves and in Jesus. I noticed that the more I trusted in Jesus and not worry so much, things do eventually fall in place in his own time. True to the Year of Mercy, Jesus did not punish those that did not follow him, rather he continues to give them chances to come back and repent.
The reading makes it clear that if we hope, love and help without conditions, we will find satisfaction in the things that we do. I feel that by doing things without expecting any returns is better and more fulfilling. I do hope that others can do so as it will allow society to be more tolerant, compassionate and where love for each other can grow.
Likewise in caring for creation, if we respect all of God’s creation without conditions because Jesus is unconditional love,then we would be able to take care of ourselves and in taking responsibility for the environment and in living sustainably. In the words of Pope Francis, he says,“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with respect and gratitude.”
Jesus gave and sacrificed so much for us without condition, so are we ready to also do the same for him in giving him our hearts and time to engage with him in prayers and in building our spiritual lives?
I will leave you, dear readers with some words from Saint John Paul II titled, “Do not Forget the Creator!” in that by remembering Jesus, we are able to accept his invitation to love, give and help without conditions but with pure sincerity of heart and mind.
To you, humanity, who look with pleasure on the works of your hand, the fruit of your genius, Christ says to you: Do not forget the One who gave birth to us all! Do not forget the Creator!
Further, the more profoundly you know the laws of nature, the more you discover its wealth and potential, the more intensely you must remember him.
Do not forget the Creator – Christ tells us – and respect Creation! Do your work using the resources that God has given you as they should be used! Transform these riches with the help of science and technology, but do not abuse them; be neither a usurper nor an exploiter, without considering the goods that have been created! Do not destroy or contaminate! Remember your neighbour and the poor! Think of the future generations!
God Bless! as we discern and pray for the gift to love, help and follow Jesus without hesitations or conditions.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong