6 June, Saturday — The faith of Jesus Christ is not a self-absorbed faith

Jun 6 – Memorial for St. Norbert, bishop, religious founder

St. Norbert (1080-1134) had been born to the nobility and raised around the royal court. There, he developed a very worldly view, taking holy orders as a career move when he joined the Benedictines. A narrow escape from death led him to a conversion experience, and taking his vows seriously.

He founded a community of Augustinian canons, starting a reform movement that swept through European monastic houses. St. Norbert also reformed the clergy in his see, using force when necessary. He worked with St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Hugh of Grenoble to heal the schism caused by the death of Pope Honorius II, and for heresy in Cambrai, France with the help of St. Waltmann. He is one of the patron saints of peace.

– Patron Saint Index

2 Tim 4:1-8
Mk 12:38-44

She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.

Something has been bothering me in recent times.

First, I’d like to share with you a story of my friend. Let’s call her Pearly. I knew her when she was a young, energetic ball of fire in her mid-20s. She had a boyfriend who adored her, a great job in an advertising agency which suited her personality. Pearly had everything going for her. However, she was prone to suffering huge headaches.

One Sunday night, her headache was so unbearable, she was immediately brought to the neighbourhood GP by her family. The GP said that there was nothing to worry about, gave her some meds and sent her home. However, the massive pain did not go away. By then, Pearly was screaming her head off and the family decided it was best to send her to the hospital A&E. In the car, she literally turned blue. By the time she got to the hospital, she had technically ‘died’. She had suffered an aneurysm. The medical team revived her, but she went into a coma for 2 weeks.

It was near Christmas time. The family had decided to pull off life support within the next 2 days if she didn’t come to. The doctors advised that even if she came out of the coma, she would be a vegetable. Pearly regained consciousness just before they ‘unplugged’ her. But she was never the same again. She had to learn everything from scratch – how to walk, speak, do things for herself. Her boyfriend left her soon after.  

Fast forward to today. Life hasn’t been easy for my friend. A year ago she was diagnosed with cancer. Though now in remission, she still has other health complications. Her father has been a kidney patient for a while now. Recently, during this pandemic, he was again warded in hospital. The prognosis is that he has two months more to live. Meantime, my poor friend is stressed to bits with (lack of) finances and very sad about her father. Each hospital visit and stay costs money which she doesn’t have. No medisave. No insurance.

A mutual friend of ours shared the news about Pearly in our group chat. And here’s what bothered me. Two of my friends on this chat remained completely silent. They didn’t even ask further about the situation. Both are comfortable financially. It would have been no skin off their backs if they contributed a bit to help Pearly during these difficult times. What bothered me even more were some of the reactions – from nonchalance to comments like ‘We give what we want and not what they need.’ That really stumped me. This is a friend in need. These are the same people who fly all over the world for holidays on business class, buy French butter for toast, feast on the most expensive food during this pandemic. Each day, I get sent pictures of their meals and I can’t help but feel disgusted. All this frivolity disgusted me. My rich friends were completely numb to a friend in need. My friends were worse than the scribes in today’s gospel. They didn’t even bother to put up a good front. They were completely and totally self-absorbed.

Today’s gospel shows us the contrast between self-serving legal experts and a simple widow. The gospels are filled with great examples of faith; examples for which we should follow and examples to avoid.

Jesus presents the scribes/lawyers as all about themselves, while the widow was selfless. She doesn’t give out of her abundance or what’s left over — she gives from the very depths of her being. Her giving is sacrificial.

Brothers and sisters, the faith of Jesus Christ is not a self-absorbed faith. It’s a faith that digs deep, a faith which is sacrificial, a faith which bears the cross. It’s about what we give to God. And it’s about the amazing riches that God gives in return. It’s about a God who isn’t self-absorbed, a Christ that isn’t self-absorbed, and faithful Christians who aren’t self-absorbed.

How can I be less self-centred? How can I be more giving — in my resources, in my time, in my love and care? How do I learn to not fear so much about tomorrow and share what I have today?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, forgive us for the times when we turned a blind eye to someone who was in need. For the times our hearts were cold and numb. For the times when we put more emphasis on material things and failed to share with others. Help us to remember that everything comes from You. To take only what we need and share any extras with those who need it.

Thanksgiving:  Jesus, thank you for giving us all we need. Thank you for your provision.

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