13 June, Saturday — Yes or No

Jun 13 – Memorial for St. Anthony of Padua, priest, religious, doctor

St. Anthony’s (1195-1231) wealthy family wanted him to be a great nobleman, but for the sake of Christ he became a poor Franciscan. When the remains of St. Berard and his companions, the first Franciscan martyrs, were brought to be buried in his church, Anthony was moved to leave his order, enter the Friars Minor, and go to Morocco to evangelize.

Shipwrecked at Sicily, he joined some other brothers who were going to Portiuncula. One day, when a scheduled speaker failed to appear, the brothers pressed him into speaking. He impressed them so that he was thereafter constantly travelling, evangelizing, preaching, and teaching theology through Italy and France.

A gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went, speaking in multiple tongues. Legend says that even the fish loved to listen. He was a wonder worker. As one of the most beloved saints, his images and statues are found everywhere. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946.

Patron Saint Index

1 Kgs 19:19-21
Mt 5:33-37

“All you need is say ‘Yes’ if you mean yes, ‘No’ if you mean no…”

Amid a flurry of Zoom meetings on the eve of Pentecost (it was a Saturday and I had 5 in total), I was ‘roped in’ to be co-chair of a committee that is going to oversee the move of our centre to another location in a few years. God truly has a sense of humour because during the few seconds when our SD was making his recommendation to the others, my computer encountered serious lagging, and by the time I switched rooms and logged in again with my office computer, the decision had been endorsed.

This circuit breaker season has been a strange one for me in terms of my faith journey. My ‘yes’ to two Pentecost projects has opened up doors for me to give more to others, especially where it involves bringing together groups of people. I truly don’t know where the desire is springing from but I know that it has kept me extremely busy, during a time when most of us are in ‘shutdown’ mode. My own spiritual counsellor has likened it to a time of me ‘coming home’ to my heart — where I have reconciled a few previously-made decisions involving my mother, especially reversing to a ‘No’ on a major one. This ‘No’ has brought a stability and assurance to her and that, in turn, has given me the peace to continue giving to her of my time, leading to more conversations between us.

I now understand the phrase I have chosen to reflect on in a deeper way. Many a time, I have found myself saying ‘yes’ when in my heart, I struggle. Just early this year, I said ‘yes’ and continued to struggle until recently, when I decided to let go of the struggle in my heart and instead, focus on doing my best to fulfil that call to step up in another ministry. I realise that God put me there for a different reason and it is not for what I had initially thought.

Brothers and sisters, God puts us in situations where He already knows the outcome of his decision. What He asks of us is to be true to ourselves, and to our calling. That when we say ‘Yes’, we have to be free in our hearts to accept all that may come — naysayers, advisors, people who mean well, people who have their own agendas. It is only when we can rise above all the noise that we truly start to discern and appreciate His purpose for putting us there. Easier said than done though because we have to fight the ‘no’ that rises within. It is only through prayer that we can really start to tune out the negative and focus on the positive — why God put us where we are — in ministry, in our workplaces, in our families.

I now find it a lot more difficult to say ‘No’. Whether it is because those who reach out think they can ‘manage’ me, or whether it is because they truly need my help (I am unclear most of the time how), I can only leave it in His hands to direct, mould and fulfil. It is the only way I know that will help me get through this strangely fulfilling season in my life, when everything seems to have stood still and I have been blessed with a clarity that can only come from the Holy Spirit. I don;t know where this is taking me, nor how long this will continue. What I know is that I now have a cross to carry that I never dreamed would be placed on my shoulders. I ask for all your prayers, to help me tune out all the ‘No’s that are bound to come, so that I keep focussed on the ‘Yes’ which the Lord has spoken through me, and to my heart.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we ask for your kindness and mercy to always fill us as we discern the plans you have for each and every one of us.

Thanksgiving: Abba Father, thank you for all the situations you create for us to manifest your love to others.

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