Sunday, 4 October 2015

Long Distance

It is incredible how people make sacrifices to be present in special occasions, if not see important persons. One of the activities that Pope Francis attended in the United States during his visit in September was the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

The Walker family from Argentina travelled 11,000 miles in their Volkswagen camper van, passing through 13 countries in 194 days reaching Philadelphia in time for the special event for families.  Little did they know that the Pope had learned of their journey and wanted to meet them. 

When they met, the Holy Father asked them, “Are you the family who travelled from Buenos Aires? You’re crazy,” then laughed.   When told by the family that they really wanted to greet him, he responded, “(W)hen I found out that you were here I said I wanted to meet you, I was following (your travels). It’s great we got to meet each other!”

The Pontiff was then overheard saying in Italian, “This is really important: a young family who had the courage to take off in a camper van and live life with joy comes out to meet other families.”

In many instances during the ministry of Jesus Christ, people traveled long distances to hear his words or to seek healing.  And Christ, like a shepherd to his lambs, responded with Godly teachings and wondrous miracles. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

Yet we must realize that we need not travel thousands of miles to find refuge in God. There was this sickly woman who longed for healing in Medjugorje; but could not afford the trip. She sought the intercession of Mary; and to her amazement, she was healed.

God is omnipresent; he knows our needs; and if we have the courage and humility to seek him, he responds with his power and goodness. What God measures is not the distance of travel in seeking him, rather it is the depth of our faith in him. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) (Bro Mel B Libre)

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Beyond Letting Go

You cannot please everyone.  

A person with the purest intention can be subject to scorn, gossip and hostility.

How many of us have thrown ourselves to serve organisations or causes without thought of gaining anything in return; yet are stabbed at the  back? Why do people cast doubt on the work of those who selflessly labour?

If one pays attention to intrigue and ridicule; nothing positive can be subsequently accomplished.   One can follow Elsa’s anthem, “Let it go,” in Disney’s “Frozen”.

Jesus Christ, though, teaches us to go beyond ‘letting go’; he tells us to respond with kindness, prayer and love. "But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

It goes against human nature to respond gently to sword words cutting to pieces your character and reputation; but God wants us to be worthy of his perfection.  To attain freedom from human bondage, pray to the crucified Christ.  Augustine of Hippo prescribes, “Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good.” (Bro Mel B Libre)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Supreme Testimony

The persecution of Christians today is no different from those following Christ’s crucifixion.

One after another, the apostles (with exception to St John) died as martyrs as did St Paul.  Through the centuries, so many believers were killed for their faith. In 2015, 21 Christians were beheaded by Muslim terrorists in Libya. Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church on February 21 announced that the 21 murdered Copts would be commemorated as martyr saints. According to Pope Francis, “Martyrdom is the supreme testimony.”

Yet persecution can come in many forms. For instance, Christians who stand up for the rights of the unborn children and who oppose gay marriage have been subjected to attacks, as being insensitive, politically incorrect and biased.  When has righteousness become wrong; when has God’s commands become incorrect?

Should faithful believers bend to the whims and caprices of those who think they are supreme to God, of those who deny God?  No. Every day, we are to testify through our lives, our actions and our words of God’s truth. We must remain unafraid so like the martyrs who defended and died for their faith rather than renounce Christ.

For unlike unbelievers who are of this world, we look beyond this life. “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. . . . This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:4-6)

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Refugees from Violence

The violent response of the Assad regime brought about the Syrian Civil War that has left more than 220,000 dead, half of them civilians. Other than the rising death toll, a far bigger problem has ensued: mass displacement. Four million people crossed the borders, while 7.6 million are internally displaced. In total, 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the war in Syria.

The number is staggering, and if the photos could speak, these should be screaming through everyone’s conscience: a dead child washed ashore, men climbing over barbed wires and mothers with children running for their lives while being chased by border guards.
Along with refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, the influx of people from Syria wanting to find decency in living, education for their children and freedom from violence has reached a crisis level that the rest of the world cannot simply ignore.

The United Nations has its hands tied because as media focuses their attention on the Arab refugees, it has to address as well other refugees including Palestinians (4.8 million), Somalis (700,000), Congolese (456,000), Myamarese (407,000), Colombians (390,000) and Sudanese (370,000).

While films romanticize the lives of refugees, the horrors and fears of those affected are in real time. Powerful statements and heated debates in august halls and press conferences can help. But more important than lip service is tending to the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and the helpless in ground zero.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared, “Refugees have been deprived of their homes, but they must not be deprived of their futures.” If I may add, refugees must not be denied of the present.

We commend the United Nations, humanitarian organizations and volunteers for doing their best to address the plight of refugees..

What can one individual do to help? Offer your prayers. Donate to humanitarian organizations.  Lend your voice for governments to take in more refugees.  And for those where the refugees are seeking sanctuary, open your homes.

For we, brethren, are God’s servants, and we must do what He would do to the least of our brothers: defend the helpless and the needy in distress. “For You have been a defense for the helpless, A defense for the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless Is like a rain storm against a wall.” (Isaiah 25:4)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

No to Mr Robot

If God wanted to make the world perfect, He could have simply made robots that would blindly follow His commands.  Instead, He created human beings, made in His own image, yet with a gift of conscience.

God talked directly to a few chosen prophets and messengers; if only to set straight the path of humanity. He sent the Messiah to bring us the Good News and convey hope to an imperfect world. Jesus provided humanity a glimpse of what is to come in the life thereafter; and still giving us free will either to follow His teachings or fall into damnation. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Do not expect God to talk to you in every move you make.  The Lord lets you plan out what you want to do with your life. “All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power.”(Ecclesiastes 9:10) You are meant to make the best life decisions following Jesus’ example and guided by the Holy Spirit.  Each one of us must endeavor to lead a life in harmony with God’s perfection.  (Bro Mel B Libre)