Monday, 17 March 2014

Temptation

The 46-year old man fell on his knees, showed an engagement ring, and asked the woman her hand in marriage. The woman, 34 years old, responded affirmatively, taken by the gentlemanly and loving attention of the man. She said: “I’ve never been treated like that before.”

The man was arrested and charged with theft and fraud.  You see, a few days after making the marriage proposal, the man disappeared in thin air bringing along $600 worth of the woman’s property.  The man had used the same modus operandi with two other women who believed that he was a successful entrepreneur, kind, gentle and romantic.

While there is much goodness in this world, evil lurks in every corner. Worse, the evil can appear like a knight in shining armor to unsuspecting victims.  “And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Nobody is free from the temptation of Satan, as he even tried to lure Jesus Christ to earthly possessions. In Matthew 4:1 it is written, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” The devil failed as Christ countered with the Word of God.

How many times have you been lured by Satan with temptation of possessions and flesh?

At times, we fall. Those who fail to repent and change their ways are pulled towards the devil’s lair. Those who pray, who ask forgiveness, who change their ways are redeemed for God treats us as His children. For in truth, we are.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Long Life

On March 5, 2014, Misao Okawa observed her 116th birthday. Acknowledged as the oldest person in the world today, Okawa, according to a news report from Daily Telegraph UK, attributed her longevity to good eating habits, 8-hours sleep each night and staying relaxed.

On the other hand, Professor Yasuyuki Gondo, a specialist in geriatric psychology suggested that “people with a strong will, are outgoing and have a sense of curiosity live longer.”

There is no such thing as a Fountain of Youth that prevents people from growing old. As conception begins life, old age leads towards death. Okawa’s testimony and Prof Gondo’s findings are worthy of attention for those wanting to prolong their lives.

The Bible shares a secret to longevity: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”  (Proverbs 16:31)  To live a righteous life goes beyond eating habits, sleep, and relaxation; it surpasses being strong willed, outgoing and curious. 

Righteousness comes at a level above the physical and emotional. It is one that is spiritual, that is, by following the example of Jesus Christ.  St Luke wrote, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”  (Luke 17:33)  For in truth, selflessness is how Christ lived his life.

Selflessness does not mean that you should forget about yourself, rather, one must live healthy and morally, while at the same time, be caring and be of service to others. Have you not noticed that the more you attend to the needs of people, the more fulfilled your life is? While it is good to live a long life, it is better to live a meaningful one. The latter one is what we should aim for.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Family Time

“Social media cannot replace the interaction of friends and family sitting around a barbecue or cafe discussing life and each other and providing a positive environment,” wrote John Ford of Glendowie in the Editorial and letters section of New Zealand Herald on February 25, 2014. He was commenting on the suicide of TV personality and Australia’s Top Next Model judge Charlotte Dawson as a result of character assassination in social media.

True that the internet has made the world smaller every day, with communicating with friends and family available at the tip of one’s finger.  But there is a dark side of technological advancement in social media, described in two words: “addictive” and “impersonal”.

One can fall into the tentacles of digital connectivity with engaging games, instant celebrity bonding, unlimited self-promotion & gratification, and a lot of dirty stuff. Under the cloak of secrecy, evil people commit fraud and cyber bullying.

Pope Francis has acknowledged the impact of social media saying that ““The Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.”  He cautions us: “The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgment, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of expression. … We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen.”

We need to realize that the internet cannot substitute for personal interaction. Shirley Engelmeier in a business article wrote: “When personal touch is lost, time is not lost, but meaningful relationship building is. Technology has “lazyfied” the communications process and the outcome diminishes the effectiveness and efficiency of getting messages sent and received. Harnessing the power of face-to-face communication is key to harnessing the power of your workforce…keeping them happy, and working for you longer.”

If personal interaction is important in a business environment, more so in the basic unit of society: the family. When was the last time you all shared a meal in the dining table? Did you have a family picnic in summer? Do you still pray the Rosary together?

The pontiff advises: “It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply ‘connected’; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and be loved. We need tenderness.”

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

We Belong

Samantha Futherman grew up in the United States and works as an actress, while Anais Bordier is a fashion designer who was raised by adoptive parents in France.  Anais was told by a friend about an American actress who resembled her in a YouTube video.

Bordier later revealed: "When I looked at the video, I — it was, like, shocking …," You can't imagine that you might have a twin sister somewhere that you don't know about."

After several exchanges, the two realized that they were identical twins born in Busan, South Korea, where they were given away for adoption at three months old.

Asked about her feeling when she met her twin, Futerman said " (it’s) that feeling on Christmas when you open up the presents, the one you were asking for, it's that — that pure feeling of joy." They have since met several times and are currently working on a documentary film about their stories.

Do you sometimes have the feeling that your life seems to be incomplete? That a part of you need to belong? The reason of Christ in becoming a man was to reveal the Father (John 1:14, 18) and to redeem humanity, through his crucifixion. By doing so, He showed us the way towards completion, towards perfection. 

We belong to the Father, and Jesus told us, “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2) We are meant to reunite with our Father, and that would be more than pure feeling of joy.  The prophet Habakkuk describes it in this manner, "His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand." (Hab. 3:4a). The joy is beyond human comprehension.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Success

When people reach the pinnacle of their ambitions, what happens next?

For some, it becomes a springboard for more lofty goals, such as humanitarian endeavors.  For example, Bill Gates and wife Melinda created the largest private foundation in the world – the Gates Foundation that primary aims to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.  Warren Buffett has become a major contributor to the Gates Foundation. Low profile Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs,has been pursuing well-intentioned programs in education and social entrepreneurship, through College Track, Udacity and the Emerson Collective.

Then there are others who simply cannot handle success, drowning in the excesses of fame and possessions.  For instance, the Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who disdained Hollywood glamour, was found dead from an overdose of heroine on February 2. Glee star Corey Monteith died after mixing heroin with alcohol.  Teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber was arrested for driving under the influence with findings of traces of marijuana and prescription drugs in his blood. Those are the more high profile ones. There are many others not in the field of entertainment, successful as well, who succumb to addiction not just to drugs, but also to materialism and vanity, on the belief that these will fill their lives with happiness.

God wants each individual to be achievers, to attain their full potential, as He had planned. Once, we lose sight of His Guiding Light, and instead believe that it is the self alone that controls one’s destiny; then whatever is achieved becomes hollow and empty.  The Tower of Babel was built not to honor God, but by Babylonians who thought of themselves as all powerful. “Then they said, “Come let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous.” (Genesis 11:4). But God had another plan: He wanted the people dispersed throughout the earth.

In today’s world, when people lose their way in life, they would go into rehab, to cure them of their addictions.  It sounds more glamorous; but we know that psychological and emotional treatments are superficial, as it is the soul that actually needs healing.

If say, Justin Bieber would decide to go into rehab; most will nod their heads in confirmation. But then how many celebrities and non-celebrities have actually been totally freed from the demons in their lives?  

Bieber, I suggest, you go on a spiritual retreat. I am certain you can be lifted out of the deep vacuum that Legion may now inhabit.  For if you turned to Jesus, the Savior will say: “Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14)