Division In Fighting For The Truth

 

The little picture. During my childhood, I remembered playing with a Disney jigsaw puzzle which had a thousand over pieces and it took time to fix it to form a beautiful completed picture that was depicted on the box. I cannot remember if I managed to fix the puzzle but the big picture will not be complete without the little pieces. Plus,it takes time and patience to fix the puzzle; with people requiring immediacy now, which is the big picture, people forget about the process to reach in order to achieve the end result.

Much emphasis always falls on looking at the big picture, but many miss out on the little picture which consists of the finer details, and these add depth to the overall big picture context. Why? By overlooking these details, the big picture will be out of proportion; different ideologies would clash and creativity would be stifled. Even in the workplace, it sometimes can be so hard to suggest a change to explore new and original ideas that people tend to stick with the tried and tested methods; it can be discouraging and exasperating at times.

The gospel reading says,Jesus said to his apostles:”Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward (Matthew 10:37-42).” 

Jesus loves us all very much and this can be seen in today’s gospel where our worth is measured by the immense love that He has for His creation. The only request that we do the same is evident in Jesus’s response by taking up our crosses to follow Him on this pilgrimage from beginning to end.

Carrying the crosses everyday is a challenge because these crosses might change over periods of time. Then there are the push and pull concepts of the teachings of the Catholic Church that clash with the teachings of the world. Who do we follow? It can cast us into a dilemma which is not easy to resolve or come to a mutual consensus – because there is none.

Even in divided concepts, we need to seek out the truth through conversations because the reward outweighs the setbacks. It is through these conversations that conversion of hearts can take place, but it is an outgoing process. Therefore, we need to choose God over any other earthly relationships because our reward will be great in heaven where Jesus has prepared a place for us.

When we feel rejected or betrayed by our choice in choosing God over our closest relations, we should not feel discouraged because we are carrying out the mission that Jesus has given to us, which is to endure and to keep the faith. Though the journey is long and fraught with complications, we will lose our old life and find new life in Jesus.

At times,we need to see the little picture and stand firm with the Church’s teachings because after all, it is through the promise of salvation and everlasting joy at the end which gives us meaning, and to allow us to grow in faith and uphold the moral values of the Church which is in accordance with God’s will.

I only pray for the determination and perseverance needed to choose God’s will over that of this earthly life which consists of heavy expectations and responsibilities. A mental note which I have told myself is to always take a step back when things gets too complicated or overwhelming. Sometimes, we all need to go away, take a breather and go back into the fray again. It is a never ending battle, but only Jesus can give us true and lasting joy and peace- so there is hope when the chapter comes to a close.

May we be ready, start now and trust that no matter what happens, we still belong to Jesus, and not let the world define our worth or value because ultimately we chart our own course, just like the captain of a ship, out in the open sea.

God Bless as we pray for one another and ask for forgiveness when mistakes are made, and for the greater capacity to love even when we are divided in the truth.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Worth-More or Worthless?

 

The Great Divide. As I turn the pages of the daily papers, I noticed that there is a new divide brewing within the context of society. Countries, figures of authority and people remain divided over issues, and some choose to co-operate, while others choose to divide people based on their own agenda or beliefs. I begin to wonder in the midst of this all, what is the worth of our humanity? Is simple conscience and the ability to differentiate between right and wrong gone?

The gospel begins by saying, “Jesus said to the Twelve:”Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?

“Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father (Matthew 10:26-33).” 

In this time and age where societal thinking and norms start to blur between the lines, it is important to continue to stay true to the teachings of the Church, for we must not be led astray, but to move towards the light, for it is where we hear God’s voice.

Be grateful for things that turn out well, and God can certainly surprise us, yet the father knows our needs and wants; he also knows our shortcomings and feelings of hopelessness. He challenges us to proclaim all that is positive and good to the people around us, to speak in the light and shout the many blessings received from the highest rooftops.

Though we might falter, Jesus tells us not to be afraid for though we are laden with sin, we are still worth more and so much more. However, society tells us otherwise. For me, people tell me otherwise and that leaves everything worthless, and it seems all the achievements are unable to match up to people’s expectations. It is  like a cycle and it gets repeated from time to time.

As I approach graduation ceremony, I have begun evaluating what is left of my remaining days as an undergraduate before I officially become a graduate. Did I do enough in my time as a student? Did I make full use of all the opportunities? Probably I did and I tried even if I might not be always successful all the time.

Then, there is the big question,”Will my parents be happy and proud?”, “Could I have done better?” Well, the truth is I do not know. People have many definitions of success, and some would require the best academic results to quantify having made it in terms of the hallmark of a graduate. I fear, and I also fear not because of not what I have done, but if what I had done is enough? It can be difficult to live up to people’s expectations. My expectation is simple, and I just do my best and leave the rest to God’s will. It seems easy but when you look around, and see others who are of a certain standard, it makes me wonder, am I worth less than them?

It can be so tiring and draining that it is like running a never-ending race.  I always have to keep looking over my shoulder, afraid that if I do not take up this opportunity, others will catch up with me. It is that competitive, and sadly, that is the way of the world now for the young. My heart sinks whenever I get compared with  such remarks as “Oh my results are that high;  how about yours?” I try to push these thoughts away, and try to pick myself up.

Listening to the gospel, I really liked the phrase,”So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” It is so reassuring, and it shows how much Jesus treasures us. He provides for the sparrows for I can see them in the gardens where they fly among the trees, and they are provided for. I know I have been blessed for the opportunities that come my way, but I am still afraid, still cautious too as I guess I am afraid of being a letdown to the people around me.

Dear Jesus, you know each of our fears and worries, comfort us in our time of uncertainty and diverse societal norms, for things are more complex now, as with the rising standards in education and social class, it can be difficult to know that we are worth so much more to You, than to society, our family,friends and the people around us. Help me always find You in these times and when I doubt You, reassure me that everything will be all right in the end. I pray that You will grant me a happy and peaceful graduation ceremony next month. I am doing so much to secure a better future and please give me the courage to be happy and not be overly overwhelmed, but for me to stop always looking over my shoulder.

I was listening to the radio while eating my lunch and the song that was playing was by Alanis Morissette which was titled,”Hand in my pocket” I really like this 90s song which I grew up listening to, and it brings to light the simplicity of life to stay happy despite all the pressures of the world. God Bless and I am grateful for the extra day this weekend!

“I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five
I feel drunk but I’m sober
I’m young and I’m underpaid
I’m tired but I’m working, yeah
I care but I’m restless
I’m here but I’m really gone
I’m wrong and I’m sorry baby

What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be quite alright
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette
And what it all comes down to
Is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign
I’m free but I’m focused
I’m green but I’m wise
I’m hard but I’m friendly baby
I’m sad but I’m laughing
I’m brave but I’m chickenshit
I’m sick but I’m pretty baby

And what it all boils down to
Is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is playing the piano
And what it all comes down to my friends
Is that everything’s just fine fine fine
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailing a taxi cab”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Corpus Christi Sunday: The Bread of Life

 

New Challenges. The transition from university to work life is not an easy one, as I often meet with challenges and obstacles. These have left me finding new ways in working round these challenges, but the amount of time and expectations needed to be fulfilled often left me truly tired at the end of the week. Rather, I just need to endure till the contract is up before deciding on more future plans, maybe even vacation plans.

The gospel begins by saying,Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever (John 6:51-58).”

When I was younger and still in catechism class, I had a difficult time comprehending the meaning of the Holy Eucharist. Growing up, I begin to look at it containing the visage of Jesus where we are constantly reminded that in all our triumphs and tribulations, He is the only one Who can give us true salvation, the promise of eternal life.

So this begins my earnestness to find life everyday in Jesus, to trust Him in times of uncertainty and worries, and to count on Him so as not to falter in times of great stress. Jesus promises us the gift of eternal life by staying faithful and holding onto the cross. We will reap our rewards on the last day.

To describe the true joy and experience of the Holy Eucharist, there is a story about Blessed Imelda Lambertini of Bologna. God called her to the religious life at the age of nine years old and she entered the Dominican convent at such a young age.

That spring, on the Vigil of the Ascension, Imelda once again pleaded for the Eucharist, but the officiating priest refused her. Imelda would not take “no” for an answer this time, so she fervently asked Jesus for the grace to receive him.

After Mass, when nearly everyone had left the chapel, Imelda continued to pray. The sacristan noticed a growing bright light above Imelda’s head, and within the glow, a eucharistic host appeared.

The chaplain ran forward with a paten, and Imelda finally received the body of Christ. With a rapturous smile on her face and her hands upraised, Imelda instantly died on her knees. Those who tell the story say her heart broke from the greatness of Jesus’ love.

Her body never decomposed, and visitors can pray before the little patroness of First Communion at the Church of San Sigismondo in Bologna.”

Today is also Fathers’ Day, and we honour and remember our fathers and father figures, and for the sacrifices that they have made. Being a parent or a father figure is difficult as there are so many responsibilities that need shouldering. I think we do not thank our fathers and father figures enough.

This brings to mind the Lee family dispute; it is important to honour the father’s last wishes and this dispute can be settled amicably and peacefully as a house is but a physical structure. A house can be mended if exposed to wear and tear, but broken hearts might not be so easy to mend. There are many other ways to remember the past contributions of Singapore’s leaders and surely fighting over a house is not one of them.

Say a short prayer if your family is going through difficult times, as family ties are more important at the end of the day.

May we continue to pray for each other, that we may experience the love of Jesus and treasure our family by being grateful for them. Let us continue loving one another as Jesus has commanded us.

Father Day’s Prayer 

Dear Lord,
So much attention has been given to mothers that often fathers are forgotten. We are not able to cry as mothers do when things become difficult. Yet we often cry quietly within, worrying about so many things. We have to keep the family safe, provide for the family, save enough for our children’s education and worry that they will grow up wrong.

Yet we face the dilemma of being too hard that we may hurt our children or too soft that we may spoil them. All too often we face a conflicted guilt of spending too much time in our work to provide for the family and then feel bad that we have so little time for our wives and children. We have wanted many times to say sorry for this, but do not even know where to begin.

But through it all, we fathers thank You, for the many joys that come with being fathers. The joys of realizing how we can love our children unconditionally, seeing them growing up at every stage of their lives, and most of all, whenever they turn out right.

Please Lord, help us fathers to be always wise and fair in our dealings, to have patience and unconditional love. In all that we do and be, help us to build a family that empowers our wives to be happy, our children to turn out right and to be God-fearing. Finally, help us fathers to remember that we are called fathers after You, who is Father of us all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Credits to Fr Joachim (Church of the Transfiguration)

Happy Father’s Day and God Bless!

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Holy Trinity Sunday: Branded by the Trinity

 

The sign of the cross. Many Catholics do this gesture with reverence, while others make the sign due to habitual instinct. However, do we really know the meaning behind the sign of the cross? Comprehending the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is a mystery- 3 entities, 1 body and the simple illustration would be if one says that he is a husband or a parent, then he must have children, or a spouse. Therefore, this illustrates the profound meaningfulness of the Trinity that every aspect of it fits together seamlessly.

But the Trinity symbolizes something easily overlooked or taken for granted due to its perceived simplicity. This symbol is love, and we are called to be in the communion of love with Jesus and the people around us. This communion of love can be described as “The love between the Father, and the Son, and the breath that they share between them is that Holy Spirit.” The quote is by a friar during his sermon and it so aptly describes the call to love and to serve with love.

The gospel begins by saying, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:16-18).”

So much truth is being said in the gospel, because sometimes, I feel that the world has so much of the bad, that I wonder where the good had gone to? For good men will not perish and Jesus has come to save the world, and not condemn it. It is through sinful actions and temptations that corrupts or stalls God’s plan in saving humanity.

Through our baptism and confirmation, we have been branded by the Trinity and through the sign of the cross, we convey this love of God to others and glorify His name. This action serves as a reminder to live life that is deeply rooted in God’s love and we can complete the work of God in our lives that he has sent us out to do.

I was going about my usual day when I saw the news report that the father  otter of a family of otters at Singapore had passed on and poisoning was suspected. I was saddened by its passing, and decided that since we are called to love society and more so creation.

The otters living in Singapore only re-emerged after a few years of absence due to the government’s and nature groups’ efforts in cleaning the waterways. However, the reason why I asked if there is still love in society is because there have been reports of unidentified individuals who have been covering the otters’ homes deliberately. It is through such acts of cruelty that has jeopardized the existence of these beautiful creatures.

Many times, I have pondered, when these people carry out these actions, do they have a conscience or is their whole devoid of the slightest compassion? Illegal fishing is also another issue that have been putting these otters at risk. Hooks from these activities get caught in these creatures which cause injuries and could even lead to death. If only people spare a thought, the world would indeed be a better place.

There is so much to learn from animals such as the otters on love. Even though the father otter was sick and unwell, he still watched over the mother otters and the pups, never once leaving their side. So you see, love is truly being there for each other till the end. Now, I pray for the safety of the mother otter and the pups as she will need to care for her family on her own. Sometimes the absence of a father puts great stress on the mother and her family and this is like the parallel of human relationships. Now there are only the Marina Bay Sands and Bishan Park otter families, but they do move around.

I appeal to society if you have the slightest conscience and humanity to spare a thought for these animals. If you do not like them for whatever reason- just leave them alone. Your selfish actions does not do anyone good. Before you do anything, do think of the consequences and have more compassion because it will do the world alot more good. Right now, the world needs more good than anything else, and this is true always.

It makes me sad and sometimes angry that even such basic values have to be spoken time and time again especially towards the care for creation. Truly, society has so much to learn about love and co-existence, that even if it is just me speaking up, I will continue to do so. It takes more to create goodness and to make people understand the message that I am trying to bring across. The reality is that society seems to not be able to treasure the good things that are given to them.

Just think of the recent bicycle sharing incidents.

May society come to experience God’s love and also always remember to carry out actions with love and reminding people around them to do the same. Forgiveness and compassion will continue to be instilled in society so that more good can come out in tailoring effective policy and mindset shifts and changes.

God Bless! and remember to always choose love and when we are tempted to do otherwise, always look to the Trinity for direction and guidance!

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Pentecost Sunday

 

Birth. Today marks the birth of the Church where the disciples were touched by the Holy Spirit. Birthdays are a time of great joy and celebration, and we too are called to embrace the gifts of the Spirit and to be in touch with  living. This allows us to be led, filled and anointed  by the Spirit in many ways that only we are aware of.

The gospel begins 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 (John 20:19-23).”

The Upper Room was where it all began and where the disciples were renewed with the Spirit and affirmed of their faith. The disciples were led by Jesus and they remained faithful, though at times, they still had their own fears and doubts. Jesus knew that the disciples were not perfect, but their intentions and heart were in the right place of goodness and good works.

In their most uncertain hour, Jesus came to them to put their restless hearts at peace and to give them the mission of the Church which is to be of service to the rest of the world. Before the disciples set out, Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit, a part of the Trinity , the Third Person, through our baptism and confirmation.

The Holy Spirit does come from God, and all goodness does flow through him, therefore when we discern whether the promptings are from the Spirit, we would know if our intentions and work do not contravene the teachings of the Church. Also, acts of the Holy Spirit will bear us fruits that will last, meaning that the goodness of the Spirit continues and multiplies. It is not a one-off action.

The Holy Spirit has always played a huge role in my life, but at times, it can be difficult to discern between the Spirit’s promptings and those of our own will. In most cases, it is the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. This is where prayer and continuous discernment come into action, where we are called to look and re-look if the Spirit is really calling us into action.

In essence, akin to that of a relationship, we too need to acknowledge the presence of the Spirit and pray to receive His gifts  which are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord. Then, we can use these gifts to direct others unto the path of righteousness and courage to fight for what is right for the common benefit towards society.

Next week, I begin a new chapter after university life which is working life filled with new challenges, tasks and expectations. I have to be prepared to face all of them to the best of my ability and trust that Jesus will provide as I surrender everything (pain, imperfections and tiredness) to his will.

May the Spirit continue to guide each of us to continue the discipleship of great service and compassion to mankind in times of uncertainty and trials. We pray that our actions will bear lasting fruits and create greater impacts within the fabric of society. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love! God Bless!

Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore

In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
Alleluia.

 

World Communications Sunday: Fear Not, For I Am With You

 

Media & Communication. We turn to read the news daily, keeping up with the latest trends and array of information that comes in almost by the minute. That is alot of information to sieve out, but media has always been the best focal point to communicate to a large audience.

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and Indonesia, many people have taken to social media in a call of solidarity and strength to provide for those affected by these uncalled for attacks on the innocent. The media is such a powerful tool and if used properly could do so much good for others which is something that news outlets should strive towards.

The gospel reading begins by saying,Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,because the words you gave to me I have given to them,  and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them.

I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you (John 17:1-11A).”

This year’s theme of the 51st World Communications Sunday is,”Fear not, for I am with you: Communicating hope and trust in our time.”It is aligned to the gospel reading which I thought made the message that Jesus was trying to tell his disciples more relevant and true in this day and age. It showed the humility of Jesus in its most direct form where he keeps his followers in prayer.

Praying is an important aspect of the Catholic faith and it is playing a much more significant role now. I learnt to rely more on prayer because it keeps me grounded and I am always thinking of ways that I can be grateful to the God the Father and those around me. It helps me get through the day and that I know that Jesus will walk with me through it all. It is not so much of the length of the prayer but the heart in one’s prayer- it should be honest, sincere and humble. Keeping each other in prayer also helps to foster a culture of encounter with God.

Communication involves not only speaking of love and kindness, it involves listening. Last year’s 50th World Communications Sunday message, Pope Francis said, “Listening is never easy. Many times, it is easier to play deaf. Listening means paying attention, wanting to understand, to value, to respect and to ponder what the other person says. Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to communion, and even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and communication.”

Pope Francis also speaks about the power of God in communication. He said,“If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity, by divine love, then our communication will be touched by God’s own power.” Every person has their own story to tell and if we listen closely, we can help them tell a better story or bring out the goodness present in them.

People have come up to me and asked me,”You have no fear in voicing your opinions, why? Aren’t you afraid?” My reply to them is if we fear, there will be no change in society. The human’s voice helps bring forth change. Many voices will create dialogue and then our opinions will be heard in changing society’s perceptions for the better.

As we learn how to communicate better and learn to be vulnerable while helping others, we turn to the patron saint of communications, St Gabriel the Archangel. May this Archangel pray for us and for the victims of the terrorist attacks, that he will bring them messages of truth, hope and courage in such great times of distress; and that the authority figures of these countries will band together to increase security and provide safe zones for their citizens to move about without fear or prejudice. Pray for us!

I would like to close this post with a song titled,”Alleluia!, Love is Alive” which speaks volumes of God’s love for us and the hope for us to communicate this love to each other, and to keep hope alive everyday. Do skip to the 5:35 mark to hear the full song performed live. For “Jesus said, I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord.I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.” God Bless!

“People of God, see the morning is new; Rise from your sleeping and run to the tomb. Come and see! Come and see! He is alive!

 A grave that is empty, a promise fulfilled. God who was with us is here with us still. He is here! He is here! He is alive! Alleluia! Love is alive; Conquered the grave and defeated the night.
 
Alleluia! Love is alive! The Son has arisen for all. Your people sing alleluia! People of God, let your fear fall away. Your chains have been broken; abandon your shame. Lift your hearts! Lift your hearts! He is alive! Here now is mercy embracing your soul; Here the fulfillment that once was foretold. It is true! It is true! He is alive!
 
People of God now rejoicing in Christ, Carry your joy to the darkness of night. Tell the world! Tell the world! He is alive! Hear the good news of this glorious day, every heart singing as heaven proclaims: He is Lord! He is Lord! He is alive!”
 
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Ascension Thursday: Always Alive in Jesus!

 

Autumn breeze. The depiction of autumn holds certain fragility when the leaves wither and die. Though it might be the best season for that holiday or evening stroll through the park, to see the different colored faded leaves scattered on the ground, it tells of a deeper meaning. This past week we saw the passing of Roger Moore, but more so, news broke of the sudden passing of Chris Cornell and Autumn Snyder and though I do not know them, their stories are very much relatable in terms of juggling their personal struggles and creative contributions.

One was a multi-talented musician, the other was a writer. During my childhood, I did not get the chance to learn a musical instrument, but later I discovered the special gift of writing. It was nothing out of the ordinary but I am amazed that a 20 year old teenager like Autumn Snyder had created a Write-A-Thon that will benefit so many people. Autumn is the daughter of Zack Snyder who is a prominent comic book film writer and director.

There was this paragraph in an article that resonated with me,“The thought of his daughter’s writing prompts Zack to recall another memory. Autumn had a quote that she included in everything she wrote. (“Every. Single. Thing,” chuckles Zack.) It’s from author Chuck Palahniuk: “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

In the same vein as her father, she organized a fundraiser where she wrote a short novel to benefit homeless pregnant women and their children in California. She said,“Writing is very important to me. It is my way of speaking. I have been doing it for many years quietly, but now have decided to use my passion for writing to help raise money for the Elizabeth House in Pasadena, California.” I am sure that they knew how they use their gifts but it only took a few minutes for life to change tragically, and it shows that many suffer in silence and do not get the help that they need. The difference lies in reaching out to people and taking an interest in their well-being to let them know that they matter in their good and bad moments. All they might need is appreciation that their work is not done in vain.

The gospel reading begins by saying,The eleven disciples went to Galilee,to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:16-20).”

We might feel that one day means that it will be bad times ahead for us indefinitely, but it is not the case, it does get better. I had times of immense doubt in my faith and times when I felt a surge of faith and hope. For all that I am grateful , and this is because Jesus promised that no matter what happens, he will be with us till the end- that is his word. What are we then afraid of? Would it be that we are not convinced in our belief that Jesus is there with us?

Jesus gives us the mission to go forth to spread the Good News to others, to help one another,  love one another and  be with one another. The disciples did that and we continue this Christian mission of going forth because we said “Yes” to Jesus. Yes, we made the choice.

When I was young, my dad used to bring me to Bras Basah complex where there were old shops selling tons of comic books. It was a time when there were no smart phones or internet. I was introduced to comic books and it taught me to always fight for what is right. In the comics, the hero would always be tasked with the mission to defeat the villains and drive them away from wreaking havoc on the lives of the innocent. Sometimes, the hero cannot do it alone, so he or she calls for backup- a team of heroes to join their cause.

At times, we cannot fight or overcome our trials alone, and those close to us may not understand what we are going through or shrug our struggles off, because they do not know what to do. I do not blame them, they might even be fearful to try to intervene, in case it makes the situation worse. However, Jesus is always there when others are not there, and He is just a prayer away and He listens to our cries.

Leading a life in Jesus and being alive in Him shows our passion to trust Him always, that even when we lose, we win. Losing a grade, a job interview, a career is not the end because you – as a person – are so much more valuable because of your special personality and talents. No matter how ordinary you think they might be, in God’s eyes, it is extraordinary because we are using these gifts to reach out to so many people who will be inspired to be the change that they want to see in the world!

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us when we feel like giving up, throwing in the towel and just feeling so worn out to the point that we question:  is there meaning in life? What is the point of believing? Give us the assurance that all hope is not lost as there is a rainbow at the end of the storm, things do get better eventually and most importantly, our work is counted and we mean so much more than our achievements or social status. Amen!

I would like to end this post with a song titled,”One More Light” by Linkin Park that speaks of the need to care for others and show them love each day because like the autumn breeze, life does come and go in times of tragedy. Take time to love, and always hold each other close for we can be a light to each other. I care, always.

“Should’ve stayed, were there signs, I ignored?
Can I help you, not to hurt, anymore?
We saw brilliance, when the world, was asleep
There are things that we can have, but can’t keep

If they say
Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone’s time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
We’re quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do

The reminders, pull the floor from your feet
In the kitchen, one more chair than you need, oh
And you’re angry, and you should be, it’s not fair
Just ’cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it, isn’t there

If they say
Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone’s time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
We’re quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do

Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone’s time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
We’re quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do
Well I do”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong