Holding On. I wanted to attend mass after a work event and was trying to figure out how to travel to the nearest church and not be late. I decided to go to Saints Peter and Paul which I have not stepped into since its renovation. I was glad that I could see the interior of such a beautiful church.
I was not too sure of the directions to the church and being almost late did not help. As I was trying to figure out the way, I heard the ringing of the church bells and I instinctively followed the sound- praying to God that I not be late for mass. Luckily , I had five minutes to go and I felt so comforted that Jesus had answered my prayers of being able to attend mass and not be late.
The church was crowded and I was finding a place to stand. Unknowingly, I stood beside a brass statue of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist made me realise that there is always renewal and peace in the waters- only if we keep on searching.
The gospel reading opens by saying,“The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,”Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”They replied, “Caesar’s.”At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”(Matthew 22:15-21).”
How often do we try to prey on other people’s weakness and to turn our backs on them? Sometimes, we do it out of personal gain or entertainment. We try to trap others in our daily interaction with people to gain the upper-hand or to get our own way. Even in prayer time, I used to find myself asking for more and more things from God and to trap Jesus through prayer.
But God I realise is not a magician and now I trust in Him more and instead place my burdens in His surrender and grace. Most of the time, the flesh is weak and it can be difficult to rise above the traps in our lives and those we place on others. We belong to Jesus for He created us and we should not be putting Him to the test.
We need to pray for the light to shine and illuminate to shine the light of Christ in our hearts to always try and ask for little but pray for the grace that God will answer in His own way and time. We must learn to discern the way to Jesus is through Him alone and not the way that the world wants it to be.
It is important that we always be like lights in practicing fraternal correction, Christian charity and gentle acceptance in looking at the strengths, rather than weaknesses or flaws in others. It takes great effort and prayer to change that perception which I am also trying to achieve. When I fall, I ask for guidance and humility to fix the hurt or pain that I have caused.
May we pray that we can give back to Jesus what belongs to Him which is our commitment and sincerity to give time to deepen the relationship as Christians to journey towards the eternal reward of paradise where the good and bad will be separated- those that turn away from sin and accept the healing grace will be saved. We should keep others in prayer and ask others to also pray for us. Amen.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong