Tag Archives: Jesus

Telling the difference

the serenity prayer

Many things happen in life, some pleasant, and some unpleasant. It happens almost naturally, that we’re more inclined to accept the good things that happen but when tragedies strike we ask, why? All through my life I’ve been looking at the negative occurrences from a pessimistic perspective, you know feeling like my life would be better if they didn’t happen; however, lately I’m learning to look at things all differently. I’m acquainting myself with the idea that everything happens only because God wills it that way.

To some people the idea might sound odd, because to them it doesn’t feel right that God would allow some things-the painful ones especially-to happen to us if He really loves us unconditionally like the scriptures tell us. Well thing is, nothing happens without His consent. As I said, this is just a concept I’ve embraced only recently; I wasn’t always like that.

A few months ago I would have gotten all discouraged because something didn’t happen the way I had envisioned it, but I ditched that mentality. However, one question pertaining to this whole idea of accepting everything as God’s will always pops in mind; ‘If really we should accept everything as God’s will, what about those instances when we’re told to fight for the things we love/believe in?’

For instance, there’s this prog I watched last week; it was a Mexican telenovela to be precise. One of the two lead couples found out they could be related. They were devastated; I doubt any two people in love would be pleased to learn they had the same blood flowing in their veins because they shared a father. The lady was most affected. Distraught, she went and married her best friend, who had always been in love with her, eager to move on with her life; she didn’t want to hold on to a love that was forbidden.

In the panicky mode she was in, she reasoned that would be the best solution; her boyfriend wouldn’t pursue her if she was another man’s wife. Apparently, she loved her boyfriend too much to get intimate with her new husband; she and her best friend had a mutual understanding that sexual intimacy would be off limits.

I couldn’t help shaking my head at her irrationality. She didn’t even care to fight for her love; she willingly accepted the painful fact that she couldn’t spend her life with the man she loved because providence had put an impenetrable barrier between them. Naturally, one of the major characteristics of soaps is that there’s just too much scheming; this one was no exception.

It turned out that the two lovers weren’t really related; they guy’s ex-girlfriend had conspired with the owner of the lab, where the two had a DNA test, to have the results altered. The test had come out positive and that had had driven the young miss into her best friend’s arms. As I watched her I wondered, if she hadn’t been too quick to accept the results, she could have suggested they have another test in a different lab just to be sure; sometimes it’s good to have doubts.

In life we’re faced with such situations; at a crossroads, wondering if we should accept everything as God’s will, or fight for the things/people we love. In my opinion, it’s difficult to actually tell the difference. However, I believe with patience and prayers, God will reveal to us what’s right.

Faith is…

faith can move mountains

Faith is like a seed; you water it, nourish it, and wait for it to grow. Things that pertain to faith shouldn’t be rushed. Like the seed; one doesn’t plant and wait for it to grow overnight. Sometimes, in unfortunate circumstances, the seed will be infested by pests and at times it could die undeveloped.

What is faith really?

A certain man found he was suffering from cancer. He was so bitter about it, because he felt God had disappointed him; He had let him down. This man said he was a believer; there’s not a Sunday that he failed to go to church; he took part in all church activities, when he married the first thing he did was to take his wife to church. Basically, he had been living a life most Christians would consider the perfect life of a true believer. Did he believe in God? Many would say he did. Did he have faith in God? Some would argue he had, but that would be debatable; he had little faith.

So what is faith? True faith is believing in God, even when one feels like things couldn’t get worse. True faith is seeing God’s hand in everything; seeing God’s hand in that illness, in that poverty, in the mistreatment at work by honchos. True faith is not just about believing in God when things are all hunky dory, but even in those instances we feel miserable and weary.

True faith is believing that God is the master and we are the servants; allowing His will to reign; accepting that all that happens, happens because He wills it, and believing that He does it for a greater purpose. Loving God and trusting in Him, even when our prayers go unanswered. Embracing that cancer (literally or figuratively), and believing that God allowed it. That is faith.

Christians from all walks of life learn to recite “Our Lord’s prayer” at some point:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be Thy name,

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…

When we say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” it means we’re allowing God to do whatever He pleases. True faith means accepting His will; being at peace with whatever He lets happen to us. It sounds like such a task right? Accepting things we don’t feel okay with and stuff? But that’s the true definition of faith; accepting it, good or bad; embracing it all, because we understand that He only intends for us to be happy.

Strength comes from faith; if you’ve been praying incessantly, asking God to grant you the strength to accomplish something, now you have the answer. Just believe in God; nourish your faith, and the strength will come.

 

Of all the dreams…

Of all the dreams I’ve had since I became aware of the person I am, there’s this dream I’ve never forgotten. I can’t remember how old I was, but I know I was small. Judging by the house we lived in at the time, I wasn’t older than nine.

I was in the living room of the same house we lived in then, when I saw Jesus standing outside, peering through the window. I was so excited. I ran to the window, trying to get out so I could get to Him, but He stopped me, and pointed at the door, which was just a few steps from the window. I ran to the door, but before I could get out I woke up…

Jesus in my life

I’ve never been too keen on interpreting dreams, but at the time I remember feeling like Jesus was trying to tell me there are no shortcuts to Heaven. If I got out through the window I would have literally landed on Him; I know He wouldn’t have let me fall, but He signaled me to use the door, which naturally meant I would have to go round before getting to Him, and maybe in the process I would have fallen, or rammed my toe into a stone…

In life there are so many times we find ourselves struggling, with illnesses, debts, we get caught up in  tragedies, which make us feel like our faith is being put to test. People who were once believers backslide; people’s faith wanes…those are some of the things we face on our quest to get to Heaven. The road to heaven is narrow and thorny and we could get discouraged at times, but if we persist we’ll get there, and He’ll be there to receive us.

 

“I will never forget their evil deeds!”

Listen to this, you that trample on the needy and try to destroy the poor of the country. You say to yourselves, “We can hardly wait for the holy days to be over so that we can sell our grain. When will the Sabbath end, so that we can start selling grain? Then we can overcharge, use false measures, and fix the scales to cheat our customers. We can sell worthless wheat at a high price. We’ll find a poor man who can’t pay his debts, not even the price of a pair of sandals, and we’ll buy him as a slave.”

The Lord, the God of Israel, has sworn, “I will never forget their evil deeds.” (Amos 8: 4-7).

In the society we live today, the needy are trampled on by the powerful; those who are in high authority, and the massively wealthy. A needy person sues a wealthy person, say because they were forcefully evicted from their home…but somehow at the end of the day, they’re not given justice, simply because money exchanged hands behind the scenes. Justice seems to favour those in power.

A needy person rushes their loved one to hospital, urgently in need of medical attention, but they watch painfully as their loved one breathes their last, simply because the doctors couldn’t attend to them because they couldn’t pay for their services in advance. It sounds despicable when I think about it, but that’s the world we live in today. The needy survive only at the mercy of the rich; those in power.

Retailers and wholesalers hoard goods, waiting for prices to go up, so they can sell them at exorbitant prices, so those who can’t afford it go to bed hungry. An aggrieved woman goes to report a crime at the police precinct; the same officer she expects to protect her takes advantage of her. Who will she turn to? College Professors fail their students, because they refuse to trade in ‘favours’… Who will protect these students?

The law of the land seems to favour the wealthy, making the needy spend sleepless nights, trying to comprehend how life could be so cruel. Who will defend them, if those who’ve been put in place to protect them are the same ones making their lives impossible? God says He will. He has vowed not to forget the evil deeds of their oppressors.

God defends the weak

One thing I’ve learned over time is that, not all wealthy people/those in power are evil, and not all poor/needy people are good. For instance, I was reading this blog post about a popular media personality who died a few days ago in a terrorist attack, and someone had commented, ‘the rich also cry.’ I found it inhumane. How could someone say something so vindictive, when people were grieving? I’ve met needy people, who resent the wealthy for no apparent reason; needy people who are extremely spiteful, and I’ve also met people in power who are kind; people who don’t hesitate to share their wealth with the poor.

God says He will defend those who are wrongfully hurt; those who cry because they have no one to defend them. God will avenge them.

When tragedy strikes

Lord, when tragedy strikes, people ask, “Why me?” “Why us?”  It’s hard for them to comprehend how something so unfathomable could happen. Grief prevents us from seeing things clearly; everything revolves around the pain. The pain of losing a loved one feels unbearable; the psychological trauma one suffers makes the ensuing days feel hellish; it makes the future feel bleak.

Lord, in your loving arms I lay everyone who is going through a trying moment; anyone who has been directly or indirectly affected by whatever tragedy, man-made/natural. I pray that Lord, you may open their eyes and hearts to faith; so that they may understand that all that happens, happens only because You will it that way; that they may understand, nothing happens without Your consent, that even though we may be greatly weighed down by life’s sorrows, we may understand, that it all happens for a reason.

It’s only by looking at things through the eyes of faith that we can reconcile ourselves to all that happens around us. Cushion the hearts of those who are suffering from the crippling pain Lord. Console them. You didn’t promise that life would be perfect; that there would be no pain; that there would be no death. But you did promise to always be there; to guide us through it all.

Have mercy on Your people Lord, in Your Holy name I pray, Amen.

Please take a listen to the song-The Promise, by the Martins- below; I find it uplifting when I’m going through some difficult moment. May Our Heavenly Father heal all those who are hurting.

 

 

Walk with me

Walk with me

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know my steps won’t falter.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll make the right choices.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll get to my destination safe.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll finally get to spend forever by your side.

Anxiety could be exhausting; it is actually exhausting. I wake up one morning, I’m doing something I feel is right, then the next day I’m not sure it’s right. Currently I’m in a phase where I feel the choices I make now will impact my future greatly; I’m at a crossroads, trying to decide what I should give first priority between my career that I’ve always dreamed about, and my hobby that I’m seriously in love with. I’ve been in this phase for a while now.

I realize it’s possible for me to actually do both eventually but for the moment I need to do one at a time. It’s difficult trying to choose between two things I love; plus there’s the other concern, if what I want to do is aligned with God’s will. It doesn’t feel like a good place to be at; the uncertainty is just overwhelming.

When I was saying my morning prayers today, the prayer (in italics) came to mind, and as I said it, I felt a calming wave engulf me. I share it with you because I know there are so many sailing in the same boat as I; it could be frustrating trying to make choices, but I do believe if we let God guide us, if He walks with us, leading us by the hand, we will make it through.

Love changes people

love changes

The term ‘Christian’ is so common. Basically it refers to someone who is a follower of Christ; someone who is Christ-like; but it so happens that many call themselves Christians, yet they hardly act like it. Personally I’m a Christian and I feel that sometimes we are so quick to condemn others; we judge them, take them to hell before they’re even dead. We shun people who we deem sinners; we refuse to mingle with them:

“She’s a prostitute,” one says. “I can’t be associated with her.”

“He’s gay,” another one says. “I can’t let people see us together.”

“She goes partying in clubs,” another one says, “That’s a sin.” These are some of the conversations I’ve heard. Once there’s this friend who posted on his fb page how he had felt extremely shaken when a guy he’d been hanging out with confessed he was gay. He was seeking public opinion via his page, if he should continue his association with the said gay guy. Out of curiosity, I read the comments, and I must say the things people said were awful. In my head I was like, “Christianity preaches against gayism, but this ain’t right.”

Then in another instance, which was more personal, I was chatting with a guy. The conversation got to a point where he asked if I ‘drink’. I didn’t think there was anything to lie about so I told him, “Yeah, sometimes I do.” Before I knew it he was calling me a sinner; saying how much I was shaming the church…by the time I decided to end that conversation he had told me some pretty nasty stuff. I felt offended that he would presume to judge me, but I laughed so hard, he got offended.

He thought I was mocking him, but I explained to him why I found his criticism hilarious: to start with, I rarely drink, and when I do, I keep it to a maximum of two glasses of wine (except for this one time I took more, but I only got tipsy; by the time my friends and I left the club, after lots of dancing and taking plenty of water, my head was clear). So I wouldn’t be lying if I said I’ve never been drunk my entire life… with that in mind, I found it hilarious when he called me a sinner…and not to mention that I know very many Christians who take alcohol and are wonderful people.

I did a little ‘digging’ about partaking in alcohol being considered a sin; I asked a priest to shed light on the matter. He told me the mere act of drinking isn’t really a sin; what comes out is what matters; you know people acting crazy and stuff because they’re inebriated…

I found it unbelievable that he would blatantly call me a sinner; last I checked, we’re all sinners, but somehow some people end up feeling like they’re lesser sinners than others. Nowadays I choose not to take alcohol, but for me it’s a personal choice; it has nothing to do with being branded a sinner.

Such instances leave me wondering why someone would want to judge others when they call themselves a Christian. The term is derived from ‘Christ’; those who follow Him. If I was to refer to bible verses where Jesus mingles with ‘sinners’, I would be basically making reference to the larger part of the New Testament.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbours without judging: when people wanted to stone the woman who had been accused of prostitution (John 8:7), He said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

In another instance He condemned judging, talking about people seeing specks in other people’s eyes when they had logs in their own eyes (Matthew 7). With respect to this, I know I’ve got huge logs in my eyes, so I prefer to let God be the judge in everything.

Hypothetically, these people we call sinners are indeed sinners; but question is, if we treat them like outcasts, who will change them? Jesus loved everyone; He didn’t look at their occupations, at their sexual orientation…He just loved them. When He visited Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) for instance, He didn’t condemn him because he was a thief. He said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” That’s how we as Christians are called to act; without discrimination. He set the precedent; to love others. I don’t recall verses where He shooed someone off because they were sinners; if we call ourselves His followers, why would we judge? Why would we discriminate?

It’s not our place to judge. We should love even those we feel are straying; because it’s only by showing them love that we can pull them back on track. In my opinion, the only time a person should stay away from someone they consider ‘a sinner’ (pardon the choice of word), would be if one is afraid they’re not strong enough; that they could be negatively influenced by the other person into straying, because it makes no sense if one ends up stealing because they were trying to get a thief to ‘see the light’…

Speaking from experience, it’s easier to change a person by showing them love as opposed to criticizing and condemning them. Personally, I feel more inclined to take someone’s advice if they seem compassionate; if they come off as harsh I get all defensive, and I have reason to believe that’s how a vast majority ‘functions’. No one likes to be judged.

‘What would Jesus do?’ That’s a question I use as my reference when faced with a situation where I’m not sure what I should do…and based on the scriptures, the answer would revolve around love; it’s the greatest of all virtues.

love

Choosing Vocations: What are you called to do?

choosing vocations

A young man went to see a priest, to seek guidance because he wanted to become a lawyer. The priest asked him, “Why do you want to become a lawyer?”

The young man replied, “Because I want to be rich.”

“And after that?” the priest asked.

“Then I’ll marry a beautiful woman and start my own family.”

“After that?” the priest persisted.

“I’ll enjoy my success.”

“After that?”

“I’ll die,” the man answered.

“And after that?”

“I’ll go to heaven and meet Jesus.”

“And after that?”

The man looked at the priest confused; he had given his entire life/after life plan and he still wanted more. He went back home and reorganized his plans (this short story was told by a priest in church).

When choosing a vocation one should address two principal aspects: How does my vocation help others? And how does it relate to God? (Speaking from a Christian’s perspective).

Whatever one wants to do, they must really be so passionate about it, to an extent where they can’t explain fully why they love it. That profound ardor one has for something that they just feel it’s what they want to do; even if it meant doing it for free.

If after evaluating one’s interest they feel it helps others and still honours God, then maybe it’s the right calling. What everyone should bear in mind is that no one was put on this earth just to occupy space. We were all given a purpose to fulfill…now the million dollar question is, ‘what is that purpose?’

Humility

Humility

“My son, perform your tasks in meekness, then you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself. So you will find favour with God. There are many who are noble and renowned, but it’s only to the humble that He reveals His mysteries. For great is the might of the Lord; he is glorified by the humble. The affliction of the proud has no healing, for a plant of wickedness has taken root in them, though it will not be perceived. The mind of the wise man will ponder the words of the wise, and an attentive ear is the wise man’s desire.” (Sirach 3:17-20, 28-29).

This bible verses emphasize on the need to be humble. Jesus is the widely acclaimed King of Kings, yet He mingled with thieves, wasn’t afraid to interact with people who had been shunned by their communities, e.g. those suffering from Leprosy as it was a highly contagious disease… I wouldn’t be able to exploit the endless list of things He did, which most people wouldn’t do if they wielded so much power.

In today’s setting, power and fame are associated with cruelty, greed, misuse of power…all the vices one can think of. As Christians, we are called to look up to The Man of Sorrows. He washed His disciples’ feet, when they should have been washing His. He did that to set an example; that the master should treat his subjects with humility; that he should serve them.

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in situations we wouldn’t want to be in, but those are some of the moments life gives us to be able to reflect on the essence of humanity. When we fail to learn from them, we sink even deeper into the abyss. It is said, that when one finds themselves on their knees-when life feels impossible; when it knocks them down- one is in the best position to pray.

Humility is a virtue which should be practiced by everyone, irrespective of the title one holds. I often wonder, why is it that people who lead/led saintly lives like Mother Teresa, are people from humble backgrounds? Does it mean that it’s impossible for one to be powerful/rich and still practice humility?

I realized people have grown accustomed to seeing leaders/celebrities act with so much derision, so that when one of them does something noble it’s regarded with suspicion. Is it seriously that hard for one to wield so much power and still treat others like fellow human beings? Without discrimination or scorn? Jesus had the power to give life; He is the life, but that never made Him arrogant.

Christ teaches us to serve those under us; to serve others, without expecting anything in return, because then we earn God’s favour, which is greater than anything on earth.

In Matthew 5: 5, when Jesus was giving the sermon on the mountain, where He gave the beatitudes, He said, “Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised.” This just shows how much God Values humility.

The Narrow Door

narrow door

Jesus went through towns and villages, teaching the people and making His way to Jerusalem. Someone asked Him, “Sir, will just a few people be saved?”

Jesus answered him, “Do your best to go in through the narrow door; because many people will surely try to go in but will not be able. The master of the house will get up and close the door; then when you stand outside and begin to knock on the door and say, ‘Open the door for us Sir!’ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know where you come from! Then you will answer, ‘We ate and drank with you; you taught in our town! But He will say again, ‘I don’t know where you come from. Get away from me you wicked people!’ How you will cry and gnash your teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, while you are thrown out! People will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down at the feast of God. Then those who are now last will be first, and those who are now first will be last.” Luke 13: 22-30

In not so many words, this verse emphasizes that not everyone who calls themselves a believer will enter the kingdom of God.

Faith is like a two-sided coin. One side of faith is where one sings, praises God, attends mass/service and tithes… And the second side of faith is doing works of mercy: clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, taking care of the sick…etc.

For one’s faith to be deemed ‘complete’, one must practice both sides; serve God, worship Him, and extend a helping hand to others; preach what one learns in church/from the scriptures. In the bible verse above, Jesus refers to the entrance to heaven as the narrow door, and He goes further to explain that not many will be able to go in.

In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says, “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what My Father in heaven wants them to do.” This is because, when it comes to matters faith, many practice only one side; attending mass every Sunday, but the instant one leaves the church premises they forget everything they learned. For instance, one could be so faithful when it comes to tithing, but if a hungry man was to walk up to them asking for food, they would chase them away heartlessly. This is why Jesus calls it the narrow door.

Jesus asks us to go through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it, whereas the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard and there are few people who find it (Matthew 13-14).

Faith is all about synchronizing one’s action with their firm belief in God. In 1 John 4:20-21 he says, “If someone says he loves God, but hates his brother, he is a liar. For he cannot love God, whom he has not seen, if he does not love his brother, whom he has seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: Whoever loves God must love his brother also.” We are asked to love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves, but above all, to love God with our whole being; that is the definition of a true believer.