21 August, Friday — Do I Really Have To?

Aug 21 – Memorial for St. Pius X, pope

St. Pius X (1835-1914) encouraged frequent Holy Communion. He reformed the liturgy, promoted clear and simple homilies, and brought Gregorian chant back to services. He also reorganised the Roman curia, the administrative elements of the Church, and worked against the modern antagonism of the state against the Church. His other contributions to the Church included: initiating the codification of canon law, promoting Bible reading by all the faithful, and supporting foreign missions. His will read: “I was born poor; I lived poor; I wish to die poor.”

– Patron Saint Index

Ez:37:1-14
Mt 22:34-40

You must love your neighbour as yourself.” 

Loving our neighbour is as simple as smiling and saying ‘Hello’ when we see them in the lift landing, or as difficult as forgiving the bully or the colleague who backstabbed us. Regardless of how easy or difficult each situation is, God gives us many opportunities each day to be that loving neighbour.  

How do we go out and love our neighbours as ourselves? First of all, do we love ourselves enough? Next, have we experienced the love of God? Finally, do we love Jesus as much? Until we do all that, loving the third party, or to answer the call of loving the so-called ‘neighbour’ is not going to happen. I speak from experience. Before I could tick all those right boxes of love, I only used to love myself and my immediate family. But after I encountered God’s love, I gradually fell in love with Jesus more and more. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live” (Ez: 37:14) With his spirit in me, it is almost too difficult to say “No” to smiling at strangers, to being nice all the time, and to helping those in need. Sometimes, it even takes going out of my way just to help a stranger.

Let me share some ‘strange incidents’ that have been happening in my life lately. From volunteering at St Francis Xavier Church’s St Vincent de Paul Society ministry, I came to know of this family whose father suffered and subsequently passed on from lung cancer, while the mother suffers from several health conditions and is unable to go out to work. They also have two school-going kids. I decided to help by promoting her home cookie business by doing a shout-out on social media. The posts went viral and, for a period of time, she received overwhelming help from many people who came forward not just to order cookies, but to help her plight in many different ways as well. As she’s also illiterate, I continue to help her with enquiries and orders, as well as manage her social accounts (IG: @joannecookies / FB: @joanne’s cookies). Recently, God has also sent someone in need into my midst through Instagram. I was initially hesitant about talking to strangers and sceptical about becoming friends but after learning that he’s a Catholic, I decided to give him a second chance. I remember the call to “love your neighbour” even though there’s a nagging risk that this person could be a weirdo or scammer. God’s plan in this friendship soon unfolded. It was only through my help that he witnessed how God truly exists and has lifted him out of his ‘stormy sea’. Through this experience, I realised that God’s call for evangelisation goes beyond borders (and our own comfort zones) and there are many different creative ways in directing people back to God. This journey hasn’t been an easy one as each time we try to move forward, we are met with strife. At the same time, my faith and trust in God has been stretched beyond my expectations. While trying to be obedient, it often leaves me frustrated and questioning God “Why me?” and “Do I really have to?” Why does God send this person (and all his problems) to me? But each time as we manage to overcome a hurdle, we marvel at God’s wit and humour in trying to tame our sense and sensibilities.   

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)

Prayer: Beloved Abba Father, please infuse me with your spirit so that we may live and go out to love our neighbours just as you have commanded us to do.    

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for trying to show us how to remain humble while serving you, and for teaching us all the wisdom that comes with faith and trust.

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