Divine Mercy Sunday: Easter Joy & Faith

The things we left behind. As the situation worsens, I have been desperately clinging onto faith as I know that I cannot do this on my own.  It can be hard to keep my spirits up and pretend that I will be alright. Spending the weekend away during Easter week was probably the best decision that I had made, it gave me a glimmer of spark, but upon returning, I am left with the same empty feeling that on the horizon-darker days are looming ahead.

The gospel opens by saying, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name (John 20-19-31).”

We have probably known that the disciple Thomas doubted very much of Jesus being resurrected and struggled with the reality of belief and unbelief. Faith is the same as we are deeply rooted in trusting God, both in good and bad times. It is a gift during our baptism that we are given faith so that we may believe.

It can be difficult to keep the faith especially when things do not go right, and we are on the receiving end of bad news after bad news, and we wonder when we might see that glimmer of good or joy again.

I have been praying and also trying to take one day at a time, and just take one moment at a time. It is delving into the unknown that scares people and me also, but I know by trusting in Jesus, I will make my way out with him.  

Let us pray for the faith and joy to take up the challenges in life, that anything through Jesus is possible and that he conquered death and is risen! Through him, we can come back stronger and better persons in his time. God Bless!

Happy Easter! May we bring the joy to others and to keep touching the lives of others in our own way.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

Advertisements

Palm Sunday & Good Friday: From Kidron to Gabbatha & Golgatha

 

Breathing Underwater. Things have a knack for not turning out the way that I envision it and it has made me cross from bad to worse in terms of situations. Humans are complex people and that is the sad reality of life. I trust in faith that I will struggle to survive and through all these, I will be able to complete the tasks at hand, in spite of know how hard it will probably affect me.

I have always seen the palm tree as a hardy and sturdy plant with its waxy sharp leaves and deep green color. However, even though the palm may seem like a resilient plant species, it is prone to insect attacks especially when the young leaves start to grow out.

Similarly, I feel like the palm tree, I may seem determined and everything else to overcome all odds, but actually deep down, I am trying to just live through the moments of daily life, trying my utmost best to get myself down. Only with Jesus do I know I can cross the bridges of life together. Preserve me , O Lord.

Imagine the pain and betrayal Jesus must have felt when on Palm Sunday, everyone was welcoming him, but during Good Friday, the good people turned against him and had him crucified. Yet, Jesus still turned lovingly to them out of sadness and disappointment, but he still forgave them because he knew that the hearts of men were imperfect due to sin and self-interests.

Do we have to turn and look at Jesus to seek his way and will? I have learned to cry out in the depths of my heart in telling him all the things that have happened, for sometimes, relying on people can be difficult.

Let us continue to journey with Jesus by looking at the cross of our identity and faith as Christians to always remember how Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley to Gabbatha and Golgatha where he faithfully carried out the will of the Father despite all the circumstances against him. He prayed and we have to rely on prayers and also on our faith that we will see these through. Jesus is our saviour and answer to all the things in life. God Bless as we continue to remember the joy of welcoming Jesus in our lives on Palm Sunday and also the Passion of our Lord on Good Friday that we are never fully alone in our joys and pains.

Take me home into your embrace, Jesus. Amen.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Carry The Weight Between the Mountains & the Sea

 

If there is a light, it will find you. Next week, there is going to be a major event for me and I hope that it will go smoothly because of the amount of effort that have been put in. I know that by placing it in God’s hands and surrendering all to him, his will can be done.

The gospel opens by saying, “Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”

Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die (John 12: 20-33).”

Dying to self is a concept that has been repeated throughout Lent and it is also the most difficult to do so because we do not strive to do the Father’s will. Gaining the Father’s honour means turning away from sin and cleansing ourselves spiritually.

Only then can we follow Jesus and become witnesses of service to him. Producing fruit starts from within where we make the conscious choice everyday to do so. In doing so, we can do more, but not to seek anything in return. Therefore, whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. May we always seek to follow Jesus and when he calls us, may we respond with an affirmative, “Yes, let your will be done and not my will.” Together we can carry the cross that has been marked on our foreheads since baptism and carry it in knowing that whether we can climb the highest mountains or raging seas, Jesus will always carry the cross with us, and beside us.

God Bless as we continue to keep this aspect in our prayers so that we can be of service and to follow Jesus, always.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Third Sunday of Lent: Come Clean, Come Close

 

Weariness. These last few weeks, I have been putting my writing on hold because there are just too many things to do. Everytime I complete a task, another keeps coming up, and red flags , a sense of urgency captures my attention and I am thrown into the never-ending cycle of finishing that infinite to-do-list.

The gospel begins by saying, “Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there.

He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?”But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.He himself understood it well (John 2: 13-25).”

Often, the secular world tells us to maintain our physical appearance and to be drawn into the materialistic world of owning many of the latest items. We would gladly oblige, but this has also affected our spiritual lives.

The Father’s house becomes a mess and we all have the temple of God in us because we were created in his likeness and image. Sin and temptation has made us choose less than ideal actions and indulge in a reckless lifestyle. Jesus reminds us to get our things in order to better prepare for Lent and to make the best of our Lenten experience.

Jesus also reminds us about his impending passion and resurrection that by seeking reconciliation, we are able to find resurrection to new life. He calls us each to seek forgiveness and also to forgive others because life is short and as life is already full of worries and obstacles, we all could do with one less headache.

We all struggle in one way or another, but coming clean and being closer to Jesus should be that top of the priority list because it is not about the amount of zeroes in the bank account, or the number of material possessions that you own, and what matters is the relationship and spirituality in our hearts that will draw us to Jesus, because that is no greater joy and peace that the world can offer.

Let us keep those that have asked us to pray for them, those that are praying for us and those that have nobody to pray with in prayers because together we can come close and come clean to Jesus to make this Lent a truly meaningful one. God Bless!

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Second Sunday of Lent: Transfigured In Him

 

Have Faith In Me. I repeat the lines to myself as a reminder to keep trusting in Jesus as he resides in me. The weeks have thus far been challenging and I have been praying that things go well and at least I have some space to breathe. Keep trusting and following because Jesus is the light and that I will find him, whenever I feel down or lost for he is always near me, like the pulse beating in my heart.

The gospel begins by saying,“Jesus took Peter, James, and John  and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,  and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.

Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;  from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves,  questioning what rising from the dead meant (Mark 9:2-10).”

The concept of self-care has been floating at the back of my head that I find it difficult to find time for myself because there are always tasks for me to do, and this and that deadline to adhere to. I am still trying my best to find that high mountain to find peace within myself and to catch up on both physical and spiritual rest.

Being alone this Lent will be a challenge but I suppose that some paths are meant to be walked alone. Prayer and faith will sustain me as I trudge through week after week. Let us make a place for Jesus in our hearts this Lenten season so that we can be reconciled with ourselves and others through the mercy and grace of God.

The transfiguration sheds light on the purity that we should strive for to attain the rewards of heaven and for eternal salvation. For, we should continue to share the good news with one another that there is hope in Jesus and that we should follow Jesus to follow the voice that guides us in the wilderness.

May we rise with Jesus this period of Lent to die to ourselves and renounce sin and temptation. Even if we fail, we should continue to ask for forgiveness and repent, and every effort goes a long way to seek the path of righteousness.

I would like to close this sharing with a song called,”May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You” It has become one of the songs that I go to when I encounter any challenges far too great for me to overcome, and I will pray that God be with me and that he will keep me all the days of my life. Let us keep one another in prayer and pray for each other because no matter what you are going through, you are not alone because you matter. God Bless!

“May the good Lord bless and keep you
Whether near or far away
May you find that long awaited
Golden day today

May your troubles all be small ones
And your fortunes ten times ten
May the good Lord bless and keep you
Till we meet again

May you walk with sunlight shining
And a bluebird in every tree
May there be a silver lining
Back on every cloud you see

Fill your dreams with sweet tomorrows
Never mind what might have been
May the good Lord bless and keep you
Till we meet again”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

First Sunday of Lent: Closer to Jesus

 

Uneasiness. I never did have the chance to fully rest and this has made me even more worn out. I feel that everything is a mess and there are so many things going on simultaneously that it is a battle to scramble to attend to all the tasks. Perhaps, this is the Lenten challenge that I must overcome and to work even closer with Jesus in prayer and reflection of the word of God.

The gospel begins by saying,” The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,  and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:12-15).”

I do cry out to Jesus in times of great need and I may come out of these with renewed grit, determination and motivation. To me, the desert is seen as an unforgiving place due to the inclement weather of extreme hot and cold during the day and night respectively. But, Jesus managed to turn the place into something better and the angels were there with him.

I have been praying that I am able to see the silver lining to push through the daily challenges that I encounter. The wild beasts did not faze Jesus because he was able to turn the desert into something beautiful which is a place of reconciliation and healing. However, it is important to note that Jesus struggled with temptations and even the devil himself during the 40 days in the desert.

Striving for the closeness with Jesus this Lent will become an objective because humanity is broken and needs to be restored. May we have the courage to draw strength from Jesus in which he embraced the difficulties of rebuking the devil and not give in to the worldly temptations. In other words, Jesus was able to see beyond the temporary happiness that power and fame could bring him.

May we always pray for one another that whatever the world may seem to promise us, it cannot be compared to the eternal salvation that Jesus has promised us where he will be in communion and that our faith can lead us to the end goal. Amen. Let us continue to seek Jesus first and the rest will fall into place. God Bless!

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Spiritual Leprosy & Self-Worth

 

Overdue. Going to the library and forgetting to return a borrowed book would earn me an overdue fee. I feel that there are many aspects of my life that are long overdue as I struggle to get back the energy and to keep the passion going again. I know it’s a long shot, but I hope that someday I will be back in peak condition again.

The gospel begins by saying,“A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. 

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere (Mark 1: 40-45).”

I could identify with the gospel because like a leper, I have been trying very hard to fit into social contexts and have always felt that I did not really fit in. Sometimes, I even question if trying so hard everyday is even worth the effort? Many do struggle with physical and spiritual leprosy. I do have both in terms of less than my ideal well-being and also pray for faith so that I can keep myself going.

During Jesus’s time, lepers were outcasts and forsaken by society as many were afraid that they might come in contact with the contagious disease. This reflects the world we live in; many are superficial in terms of how they interact with others and more so in practicing their faith.

Despite Jesus remaining in deserted places, the crowd still found him and came to him. It is the hunger to find Jesus that we will find the light and it will mean finding him in everything that we do because we are alive in the spirit as sons and daughters of God.

People used to tell me that I am a child of God and that cemented my self-worth in Jesus that we are all precious in his eyes. However the world views it differently and sometimes it can be difficult to look beyond the window of the world. Let us pray for one another that Jesus loves us no matter what and that should never be taken away from us by the world. Jesus is the world to us, and that is all that matters. Amen.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong