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

 

Advertisements

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

 

To Seek the Lonely Place

 

Noise & Stimuli. After many years of procrastination and delays, I am glad made the choice to seek spiritual direction and to ponder more deeply on my vocation status. I realised God really works in mysterious ways as I struggle with secular life and trying to practice the Christian values that I learn every weekend when I go to church. Sometimes, it takes great heart and courage to be that person and not let the world around influence your thoughts and opinions- that is also another challenge, to block them out.

The gospel begins by saying,“On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee (Mark 1: 29-39).” 

Other than a teacher, Jesus has always been a healer in my eyes and that suffering though can be difficult to comprehend at times for it is not to punish us, but to let us find God. We need to look to the cross when the going gets tough that our salvation is right there for Jesus endured much for us on the cross, and we are to always keep that imagery close to our hearts to remind us that we are in communion and that we are not alone in our greatest struggles.

Now going through the daily routine of work has slowly started to chip into me as it has taken a toil on my health as I struggle to practice self-care and find time to rest. Another aspect was to always seek the Father’s will because that was what Jesus did as he went out on the ministry of spreading the Good News and also driving out evil.

Most importantly, admist all the chaos, to find that breathing space means to find the deserted or lonely place to pray. Prayer is being emphasised as important to keep praying and to prevent us from heading into a full collapse from sin and temptation. It also means finding quality in prayer which is to learn not to demand but to always ask “What do you want me to do? “The father’s will is far more crucial than asking about our own interests.

Let us pray for each other that we may remain steadfast in our prayer life and to find that lonely place to always go to where I can embrace the stillness and calmness admist the chaos of the world. May we bear our crosses with great patience and courage just as Jesus bore the pains of the world and sacrificed much, and may we have faith that Jesus walks with us every step of the way, always asking us, “Will you do my will?” Amen.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Modern Day Evils

 

Place to start. As days pass, I am left more weary and tired because it is like a well that is dry sans creativity and motivation. I am trying my best to get through each day and just pushing through. I begin to look back at the starting point when I thought that I can get into the work because it was something that I was passionate about even in university. But since coming in, I now know better and to rectify the situation is going to be an uphill task. But, hey I still need to find a place so start and to finish this chapter with the help of Jesus, because I can do all things through him.

The gospel begins by saying,“Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”

The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee (Mark 1:21-28).” 

It is true that evil walks among us and the devil is always out to destroy humanity. Sometimes, he comes in many disguises and is the father of lies. He tries to take us away from Jesus and to prevent us from receiving the word of God. When our hearts become hardened, he has won the battle for our souls.

That is probably how the man with the unclean spirit came into the synagogue because the devil always seeks to challenge goodness and Jesus. The man had become a hostage of many evils as the spirits had remarked that they were a “we”. Today, evil has revolved to be more formidable and has crept slowly into the media, hearts of men and even into our day to day conversations with one another where we seek to run others down for our own selfish glory.

We fall prey to evil and prey on the weakness of others which creates more resentment and erodes our trust in human relationships with one another. This collective evil has become an infection in society, but Jesus always tell us that with his authority, he will drive them out.

For Jesus is our shield and armor against these modern day evils which I am seeing everyday and that he has the power to rebuke these unclean spirits and evils of the world. Sometimes, I try to fathom how people can accept these evils, but I think the grip on their mind and soul is so great that they cannot pull away and they sink further down the slippery slope.

May we pray for the conversion of souls that the good in men will drive out the evil of sin and temptations that prevent society from becoming kinder and more compassionate to each other. After all, men are not born evil, its men choice that determines the path and we should always walk on the path with Jesus at our side.

Always choose love, instead of judgement. Choose to speak words of affirmation, instead of words of judgement and negativity. And to choose Jesus because we are created in his likeness and to always lift others up in bringing out their best.

Stay safe everyone!

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen!

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Plentiful Redemption

 

Drown. These past few weeks have been hectic as my weekends are spent on work and hardly have any time for myself. All I see are endless files and for the first time, I am struggling to get organised. I know that as the months pass, it will be more challenging, but I still hope to find some time to rest and find myself, cause it is so easy to get lost and preoccupied that I begin to experience emptiness. However, I still hope in Jesus that I can cling on to him and I can keep my head above the waters through his grace and mercy.

The gospel opens by saying,“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.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.

They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him (Mark 1:14-20).” 

It can be hard to look at the world to see the morals of society slowly crumbling away and people turning away from religion. I went to Novena Church after work and I was amazed by the new renovations as I have not stepped in since the building was completed. The church was packed, but the priest had a far more important message which was to turn away from addictions as Jesus will redeem us if we make the efforts to do so.

Jesus calls us every single time we enter the church to follow him as there is free embrace of just surrender and welcoming us sinners home. Sometimes, the things that are holding us back are our fears and baggages that we are not worthy enough to face Jesus. Will he take us back after we have let him down so many times?

After reconciliation and asking for forgiveness, we can then achieve a sense of clarity in mind and spirit to follow Jesus when he calls each and everyone of us fishers of men. He calls us to be disciples of the good news that no matter how far we have fallen in sin, there is still beautiful and free redemption to be sought after.

It can be hard and challenging to live out Christianity values in the workplace and I see it more clearly now. However, we must still let these values guide us to navigate the toxicity of the environment with Jesus, because alone I am not able to.

Let us pray for a more understanding and compassionate workplace because sometimes being caught up in results and profit have made organisations shallow and hard hearted unknowingly. Everyone has become so fixated that they do not care and that is where everything starts to fall apart. God Bless!

“Glorious St. Joseph,
model of all those who are devoted to labour,
obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously,
putting the call of duty above my many sins;
to work with thankfulness and joy,
considering it an honour to employ and develop,
by means of labour,
the gifts received from God;
to work with order,
peace, prudence and patience,
never surrendering to weariness or difficulties;
to work, above all,
with purity of intention,
and with detachment from self,
having always death before my eyes
and the account which I must render of time lost,
of talents wasted,
of good omitted,
of vain complacency in success
so fatal to the work of God.
All for Jesus,
all for Mary,
all after thy example,
O Patriarch Joseph.
Such shall be my motto in life and death.

Amen.”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

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?”

 

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