Pushing Through. I am back from my recent university trip to Bangkok, Thailand, as part of the 8th United Nations Student Leaders’ Symposium. It is also my last major school related activity that I will be participating in as I need to detach myself from my university commitments. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the trip as it was my first trip travelling without my parents and having to be independent.
It was an enriching experience to look at another’s country culture, sights and infrastructure. Despite the huge rich and poor divide in the country which could be seen in the streets as I moved around the city, I could see the determined spirit of the people to make a living- pushing pushcarts around with food and some selling handicrafts in night markets.
Most of all this new found travel experience gave me new friends that I could count on and we bonded nicely during the trip. I did not want the trip to end as I felt relaxed and free. Now, I am back to the daily grind, trying to push through each day to meet society’s expectations. We definitely need to be the change that we want to see in the world.
The gospel reading opens by saying,“After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply,”Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,”Truly, you are the Son of God (Matthew 14:22-33).”
Life has many storms, some mild, while others are huge which could catch us off guard. I can vouch for the storms that stirs the moment I start a brand new day and it can be tiring to go up against them head-on. I am reminded that even if I lose everything, I still have Jesus to count on. He says to each one of us,“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Relying on our own strength is futile because we falter and stumble, and we need Jesus to overcome our struggles and life’s challenges. Like Peter, Jesus provides a teachable moment when he outstretched his arm to save Peter from drowning in the deep waters of the lake. Jesus is with us and only when our faith is ultimately tested that we learn to trust and strengthen our faith, knowing that Jesus is there because he saves.
Walking along the streets of Thailand, I could see that many needed saving, from poverty, hopelessness and a lack of choice. They struggle to get by, but at least they try and that showed me the resilience present in the human spirit. They still try to make the best of their less than ideal situation to get by.
I have much to be thankful and grateful for, but I still hope for a society that has more heart and is willing to give freely and more lovingly to the people around them. A word of affirmation and encouragement could do wonders in lifting the mood of those around us.
This week, I had the privilege to meet a dear old friend and he loaned me a book titled, “The Way of St Francis” by Murray Bodo on The Challenge of Franciscan Spirituality for Everyone. I will be reading through this as I have always felt a strong connection with the Franciscan path of being grateful to nature and God’s creation.
Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi
“Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.
Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.
Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.”
Let us continue to pray for one another and be reassured that Jesus is with us through life’s many storms, and all we have to do is call out to him! God Bless!
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong