Gratitude in my heart. I am deeply thankful and grateful especially for last week which passed by without a hitch. I managed to submit my assignments and projects despite being pressed for time. Also, I attended a career fair held in the university and I am glad that there are many companies who are interested to hire graduates and I am hoping to be one of them. I have entrusted these goals in prayer to God as I know His plan is the best plan.
The gospel reading begins by saying, “Jesus said to his disciples:”You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:38-48).”
How many of us have wanted to hurt our enemies? The temptation is always there. However, Jesus challenges us today to love our enemies and even pray for them. Surely, it is impossible? But for us to truly love those who are our friends and enemies, we first need to acknowledge that with Jesus, all things are possible. The only way, and the hardest, is to reconcile with ourselves internally the hurts or pain that we hold and then to forgive those who have hurt us. It is not an overnight cure but a journey which takes time and prayer to really forgive a person.
To be the better man in choosing to forgive and give in – this is the invitation that Jesus invites us to submit to. The path to holiness is recognizing that we are the temples that house Jesus and we are created in the image and likeness of God. But due to sin and temptation, we fall again and again. All is not bleak as, like the saints, we must undertake a journey that we need to walk time and time again. No one can become perfect in a day, much less over a few months or years.
For me, I see prayer as a channel to reflect on actions or words that I may have said; and depending on the situation, I might have initiated the conflict. Therefore, there are two form of prayers- The Examen Prayer and Contemplative Prayer which I find useful to help deepen our relationship with Jesus and also to reflect on our own being.
The Examen Prayer is taught by St Ignatius and it allows us to open ourselves to God and God to us. It asks us,”How has God been present and active in my life today?” and “How have I responded?” Here are some questions for us to ponder about:
- Thanksgiving: I give thanks to God for the gift of today, for faith, for graces…
- Light: I ask the Holy Spirit for light, to show me the way forward.
- Review: I review my day hour by hour and ponder on my experiences. Where have I felt God’s presence? Or ignored or rejected God?
- Response: I respond to what God has shown me, how I felt and what I learnt. I listen to God…
- Tomorrow: What do I desire for myself and for others? I surrender to God in hope.
On the other hand, contemplative prayer is silent prayer in pondering and reflecting on scripture. It is to speak with God in silence, in understanding and reflecting on the word of God. It is good to always ponder on the word of God and try to find God in all things. The purpose is to be still in the presence of Jesus and speak to him to have a closer relationship. We do this when we deepen our faith and love for prayer through the grace of God.
Prayer helps us take a step back in pausing and to review our life as a whole. It is similar to that of a cluttered desk where at the end of the week, it is of great relief to clear the desk and put things back to original positions in getting ready for the new week. Likewise, prayer helps us to reorganize and declutter the emotional baggages that weigh us down. Let Jesus help us with these baggages and make our burdens lighter for he is beckoning us to come and know him in the silence of our hearts.
May we continue to keep Pope Francis’ intentions for the month of February 2017 in our prayers,“Sacredness of Life, we pray for the children who are in danger of the interruption of pregnancy, as well as for persons who are at the end of life-every life is sacred!-so that no one is left alone and that love may defend the meaning of life.”
Being in the communion with Jesus, we can grow in holiness and it is a journey of a lifetime for it takes lots of experience and knocks to understand where Jesus is leading us. For his staff and right hand will guide us to greener pastures and restful waters. Amen.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong