Come, And You Will See

 

Adversary. I have been engaging in a uphill battle to be on top of the challenges of everyday life. It has been tiring mentally as the demands of life begin to consume my being. I look at the cross for guidance and it is true that pain and suffering will always be with me, and just like how Jesus suffered on the cross, I too will need to shoulder the cross and hope for pockets of brief respite.

The gospel begins by saying, “John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?”

They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.

He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter (John 1:35-42).” 

I was having a conversation about Church and God and the question that came up was, “Does God reside in Church?” My response was “God lives in everyone’s hearts and the Church is where we experience him truly present.” God is never far.   He is, in fact, very near, like the simple cool breeze that moves around us.

Jesus says to us, “Come and See” because he invites us to his warm embrace in knowing we have shelter and can seek refuge in that moment when we are present with him. He is staying in the people around us, but it can be difficult to recognise him. There might be obstacles hindering us or that we choose to ignore him in our midst.

Do we invite others and ourselves to come and see our faith and to experience the hope and light that Jesus brings? It is that gentle invitation that will open hearts to have faith in a higher being because by our strength, and we are not strong enough to just rely on our own strength or courage.

He also extends his invitation to us who have come, but have not seen because of the things that we are holding onto in our hearts, and it is the heavy baggages that pull us down and prevent us from really seeing Jesus. May we know that Jesus wants to share in our burdens and that when we finally see him, he will give us rest and tell us to follow him all the days of our lives.

Learn to love without condition. Talk without bad intention. Give without any reason. And most of all, care for people without any expectation. God Bless and may we come to share in the love of those that really do care about us, in our highs and lows of everyday life. Hold them close and don’t let them go because like Jesus, they are here to stay for the long while. God Bless!

I would like to end off this post with a song”Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol because for me, it is a song about being free and being wanted by those that mean something to you. Treasure those moments because when they are gone, they are gone forever.

“We’ll do it all
Everything
On our own

We don’t need
Anything
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

I don’t quite know
How to say
How I feel

Those three words
Are said too much
They’re not enough

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life

Let’s waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see

I don’t know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?”

 

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Trust In God’s Wisdom

 

Yesterday Gone. Time flies and in a blink of a eye, it’s a brand new year in 2018. Holidays seemed so short and its back to the grind of working. I have been fumbling in the dark the past few months and I hope that for the new year, I can focus on self-care, spending time with loved ones and also find projects that will allow me to grow spiritually in finding God through these avenues.

The gospel begins by saying,“When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,  “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled,  and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,  He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,  for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way (Matthew 2:1-12).” 

I see the wisdom of God present in the magi who went to pay homage to Jesus because they recognized that he was King who had come to bring salvation to the world. They relied on God’s wisdom even though King Herod had other ulterior plans for them at hand. Everyday we are faced with choices that we can choose from and sometimes, we are pressed by the situation to make a quick decision. But before doing so, do we rely on God’s wisdom to know if we are making this decision in good faith? I think that is really important in making a mental note.

The next aspect would be through wisdom, we are able to find joy in knowing that God is present in our decisions. But we need to trust in him and to know that he is the one true source of joy. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh tells us that Jesus is King, God and also Man because he lived among us. However, it was also an indication of the suffering and pain that he had to go through.

Whenever there are difficult decisions to be made, do we end up trying to find another way when we feel pressured to make a decision that we are not comfortable in making morally? Sometimes, the ability to choose another way means making the decision that does not compromise our judgment or morals.

Therefore, at the bottom-line, many things in life call for our immediate decisions and sometimes, we just need to step back momentarily given the complexity of the situation to just ponder before we make the decision. May we always trust in God’s wisdom and know that he is always with us. Let us continue to pray that we have the courage and strength to stand tall admist life’s difficult decisions.

I was browsing Youtube and came across this clip starring Jim Carrey that showed me a silver lining despite life’s challenges which is in this case music. It is something that I had always relied on when the going gets tough and I will need more music in this coming year.

Happy New Year, dear readers! Stay safe and happy always! God Bless.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Merry Christmas: The Child Born in the Manger

 

Vacation Week. Finally I will be heading off for a short trip over the post Christmas week for a much awaited holiday. It is also the best way to spend time with loved ones and most importantly to calibrate my body and mind which is essential towards self-care.

The gospel says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,  who were born not by natural generation  nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth (John 1: 1-5, 9-14).”

The gospel foreshadows the suffering and rejection that Jesus will eventually face coming into this world. He is the true light despite being born in the cold winter night. It was definitely a difficult time for baby Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph because there were outside in the cold.

The manger is an endearing scene with the child Jesus inside, innocent and helpless, but the aspect that strikes me the most are that Jesus, Mary and Joseph represent the most blessed Holy Family because they are the testament of love and strength. Joseph did not leave Mary when she was with child despite the gossips that were going around. The Holy Family never gives up on one another and are called to love in the most difficult of times.

We must never be caught up in the commercialization of Christmas which involves gift buying, and lose the meaning of Christmas which is to give more and to reach out to others whom we might not have talked to in awhile. The simplest gestures are often the best presents. Walking down Orchard Road with your loved ones and just engaging in conversations with smiles and laughter to me are good enough because wealth cannot buy moments like these.

This Christmas allowed me to catch up with those important to me and I am grateful for the time spent with them. It is easy to take them for granted sometimes and we should treasure these moments with them because life is so unpredictable and to relive the laughter in this season of giving and sharing.

May we also pray for healing in families this Christmas and for hurts to be forgiven which will help mend ties. Jesus, Mary and Joseph pray for us! Amen. Merry Christmas to everyone and stay safe during the holiday period.

“All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.” 

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Christmas Eve: To Be Blessed Is To Be Happy

 

Battered. As I make my way out of reservist and into the Christmas season, I begin to contemplate the meaning of the Christmas celebration. The thing is peace alludes me as there is always a restlessness that I cannot seem to shake, and it must be due to me instinctively starting to plan for things before it happens. Today is a day where I lost more than I gained but I was reminded in the silence of my heart that to be happy is to be present in that moment and to hold onto that moment in never letting it go.

The gospel says, “The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).”

Being obedient in faith, even in suffering and hardship, I find it difficult to fully obey the church’s teachings, but Mary answered the call despite all the challenges ahead of her. By trusting in the Holy Spirit, Mary found peace because she accepted God’s will and favor. This has reminded me to always keep trusting even when the odds are not in our favor or when we are at our lowest.

Nothing is impossible with God as what scripture has said. Mary endured much during her life as a mother and friend when she visited Elizabeth and witnessed the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and her Son, Jesus. Mary was truly blessed because she remembered that she, being the handmaid of the Lord, trusted in God’s will because she found peace and happiness in her heart.

Many of us might be familiar with the happiness index and it is not the richest countries that are the most happy but the poorest countries. The reason is that the people are contented in living their daily lives with less and in simplicity of living life without the pressures of society or to conform. Indeed, they are truly happy and blessed!

Let us continue to pray that we treasure the happy moments and remain positive in the sad moments. May we also give our reassurance and peace to others who might be not be in the best places in this festive season. Amen.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Gaudete Sunday: Finding Permanent Joy

 

Going back. This week, I begin my one week reservist and I have mixed feelings about it as it is being so close to the holiday season, it is tough to be able to seek the joy that comes with physical and mental tiredness. But the joy is knowing that after this week, I can finally rest and catch up on my sleep. Gaudete reminds me to always find joy no matter the situation and to rely on the providence of God to get me through days of good and bad.

The gospel says, “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.””Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?”

He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,'”as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing (John 1:6-8, 19-28).”

Joy is different from pleasure as it is lasting and not fleeting. Rather, it is when our hearts are full of gratitude and peace in knowing that God is at the centre of our happiness, then we can feel the joy that neither material possessions or achievements can give to us.

It is similar to not expecting anything in return that we find great joy in giving to others rather than receiving. By having less, we can experience more in knowing that others have their needs fulfilled and by giving, we receive not in physical forms of returns but in finding great joy in sharing what we have with others.

The spirit works through us in giving us the joy we desire as being joyful is not gained by the number of works or results that we achieve, but that joy will find us in unexpected moments through the guidance of the spirit that comes from God.

We also need to keep making straight our paths and to welcome Jesus into our lives. This is a time to remember that through our baptism and our baptismal promises to reject evil and continue onward on the path of righteousness.

May we continue to keep one another in prayer and to bring our intentions and petitions to our Mother and Jesus in prayer because we all need one another and to support one another as we await for the birth of our savior. One prayer a day to get through all days. God Bless!

“My soul rejoices in my God.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed.”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Burn Bright, Little Candles of Love

 

The winding road. My heart is filled with gratefulness as I caught up with my university friends over the weekend as we were interns in the same department together. The best thing was that everyone could make it. We shared the good times that we had as one department and I am glad that I am not alone as we faced similar struggles in adapting to the work-life daily grind. Perhaps, the best is to take one moment at a time to get through each day. I just need to keep repeating “I will be okay” over and over again.

The gospel begins by saying,“As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist.

He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed:”One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:1-8).” 

This advent season, we are called to straighten the roads in our lives which have grown wild and overgrown with emotional baggage and sin. It is a time of forgiveness and repentance. The thought of it might sound easy, but the action that comes after is actually harder to achieve. Feelings are hurt, grudges are taken into consideration and relationships are broken.

Rather, we are tasked to prepare for the coming of Jesus who will live among us by doing some spring cleaning of our hearts and lives. We need to acknowledge our sins through the sacrament of reconciliation and to go to the Lord in prayer as he knows the heavy baggages we carry within us.

To dispel the darkness in our hearts, it is important to continue lighting small candles of love and light because only love can combat anything. It is difficult to love sometimes, but if we light these small candles of love by taking the first step, it will make the world a little brighter, a little more understanding and compassionate.

Through our daily struggles and challenges, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit who gives us the courage and wisdom to choose love over hate and I have learnt to lean on God’s providence because sometimes I know I am weary and need the Spirit to guide me through the rest of it all.

As we reach the end of another year, let us continue to reflect on the love of God whose love is always patient, kind and he never gives up on us. He brings us to restful waters where he gives us rest and the strength to pass the light to others who might be still living in darkness. Together, we can be beacons of light to one another in the things we do.

May we continue to keep each other in prayer and pray that we can grow closer to God as we are accountable to him and to lead a more prayerful life, especially during times of challenges that we do not grow distant from him. Amen. God Bless!

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Ignite The Candle Of Hope

 

My own prison. I feel that even though I want to slow down to take a breather, I find it so hard to do so because of the context of the situation. It feels like I am that of a caged animal with no where to go. I am trying my best to maintain the equilibrium amidst the uncertainty of each day. There are still glimmers of hope and I am trying to be these moments each day. Treasure these moments because you do not know if they might come again.

The gospel of the week says,” Jesus said to his disciples:”Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.

It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge,each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all:’Watch!'(Mark 13:33-37).” 

As the start of the advent season begins, we are called to turn our eyes and focus on the cross and also to ponder deeply on the end. It may seem like a morbid thought to think of demise and gloom to usher in the Christmas season, but in reality, we need to be ready for when the time eventually comes, we are called home to be with the Lord.

Though we cannot predict when God will call us back home, we are made to focus on the now which is to keep watch not only in our own spiritual lives but for others as well. As Christmas draws near, are we waiting in anticipation to welcome Jesus into our lives with renewed faith and conviction?

There is time to awake from our slumber and be active in our prayer and spiritual life if we have been asleep and stagnant in neglecting our spiritual needs. It is not about the quantity of prayers but the quality of a prayer that keeps the light on in our spiritual connection with Jesus. I do stumble in my prayer life, but I still keep trying and reflecting more to see where I can go from here. I need to learn to let go of the secular expectations and weights that the world puts on me through the strength and courage of God.

Thus,we should not wait for Jesus to check in with us, but to initiate and check in with him on a daily basis so that we will not be caught unawares in situations where we are filled with regret or sadness for taking the first step to accept and acknowledge him. Jesus is ever patiently waiting for us and we will be welcome into the light of peace and joy if we keep watch and are willing to take the first step and prayer to keep the spiritual fire to know about our faith and the goodness that Jesus brings.

May we continue to be the hope and bring this hope through our daily interaction to the best of our abilities. Though it might not be a perfect hope, through Jesus, he makes our hope perfect and whole again. Let us continue to keep watch, keep the faith and be beacons of hope of love, comfort and joy to the people that matters the most around us.

I would like to close this post with a song by Reyer titled, “Maranatha” which is to fix our eyes on Jesus because he is all we need and not what the secular world dictates of what we should or should not do. God Bless!

“Who are we without You?
Where else could we go?
There’s no other we could turn to
For all is found in You alone
No other name to call on
Than the name of Christ
There’s no other voice to follow
For only You speak words of life
With arms lifted, our eyes upon You
We cry out to heaven
With hearts burning for the one God we pursue
Let this be our anthem 

Maranatha, Lord let your glory fall
Maranatha, Your fire fill us all
Maranatha, Lord Jesus come
Maranatha, Our King is coming soon
Maranatha, And we will wait for you
Maranatha, Lord Jesus come
No other name to call on
Than the name of Christ
There’s no other voice to follow
For only You speak words of life
With arms lifted, our eyes upon You

We cry out to heaven
With hearts burning for the one God we pursue
Let this be our anthem
Maranatha, Lord let your glory fall
Maranatha, Your fire fill us all
Maranatha, Lord Jesus come
Maranatha, Our King is coming soon
Maranatha, And we will wait for you
Maranatha, Lord Jesus come
Lord Jesus come, Lord Jesus come, Lord Jesus come
Heaven is what we long for
Heaven is what we seek
Your presence in this place, let it come, let it come Lord
Heaven is what we long for
You are all we need
Your kingdom on this earth, let it come,let it come Lord”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong