14 May, Thursday — No One Has Greater Love Than This

May 14 – Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle

Matthias (d. 80) was an Apostle. As he could bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, he was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. He preached the Gospel for more than 30 years in Judaea, Cappadocia, Egypt, and Ethopia. He is remembered for preaching the need for mortification of the flesh with regard to all its sensual and irregular desires. He was martyred in Colchis in AD 80 by stoning.

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Acts 1:15-17,20-26
John 15:9-17

“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”

Unprecedented times, trying times, isolation, loneliness – these are terms that have been thrown about a lot during this period. Indeed, many of us have never experienced living through a global pandemic. We had to learn how to adapt and find alternative solutions to go about our lives as normal as possible. Now, there is even the possibility of solemnising civil marriages online!

We recognise that many are struggling, with lost jobs, reduced income, those who are sick, the healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly, and of course in Singapore, the migrant worker community. These migrant workers left their families and their homes to make a living in Singapore — they are the ones who built our roads and skyscrapers, yet often they are forgotten in society and hidden in the background. Now, the spotlight is shone on them on a daily basis, people are sitting up realising that more has to be done to give our fellow brothers a better standard of living, that they deserve to be treated like equals and not shadows. They need to be loved just as Jesus loves us.

Amidst all the dreary news, there have also been heart-warming stories of how humanity has come together. On social media, I see different groups rallying to raise funds for the less fortunate, people coming forward to selflessly give of themselves. Families being ‘forced’ to spend more time together, individuals suddenly exercising more – even if it might just be an excuse to get out, at least they are striving to lead healthier lives! Around the world, the Earth is healing, pollution has reduced, there is fresher air and bluer skies.

On a personal front, while we cannot meet physically, I find myself hanging out with friends more often over video chats, when in the past it was rare for us to meet as frequently. I’ve even managed to get my 91-year old grandma on a video conference call (with the aid of her helper), and we are trying to get the whole family together for a chat, which has not happened in almost a decade because some live abroad.

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss church and mass. A few priests have been coming together offering their time for a ‘Prayer Hotline’ on Sundays. I was feeling rather down and decided to try and call one weekend, and to my surprise, the call got through. It was just a short five-minute call, but I was very touched and teared when Father prayed for me. There was something beautiful about hearing a priest’s voice again, speaking directly to me and praying for me personally. I felt privileged, and at the same time, so thankful that these priests had so much love for their flock to do this, when they themselves were probably going through a hard time too. Yet, in normal circumstances, I probably would have never called a priest to ask him to pray for me.

We cannot ignore the grim realities of what this virus has caused, but we can remain hopeful that there is a silver lining in this dark cloud. While we lament and wish that things can return to ‘normal’ as soon as possible, perhaps it is not ‘normal’ that we wish to return to, but ‘better than before’. It would be a huge waste if after all this is over, we fall back to the old ways. I sincerely pray that we continue to stand united, that we will be more diligent in protecting this Earth, that we continue trying to lead healthy lives, that we remember what is most important in life to focus on, that we keep growing deeper relationships with our loved ones, and always have that constant yearning for Jesus, and never take the Eucharist for granted again.  

“We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song!” – Pope John Paul II

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we pray that we may hold on to the promise of your hope and truth and not to despair in these difficult times. May we be the light for others and be Your face to others, to love one another just as You have loved us.  

Thanksgiving: Thank you Heavenly Father, for allowing us this time us to heal and reconnect with our loved ones. Help us not to take You or anything for granted again. Amen.

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