24 August, Monday — Good prevails

Aug 24 – Feast of St. Bartholomew, apostle

St. Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was probably a close friend of St. Philip, as his name is always mentioned in the gospels in connection with Philip, and it was Philip who brought Bartholomew to Jesus. He may have written a gospel, now lost, as it is mentioned in other writings of the time.

Someone preached in Asia Minor, Ethiopia, India, and Armenia and left behind assorted writings. Local tradition says it was Bartholomew.

– Patron Saint Index

Apo 21:9-14
Jn 1:45-51

Can anything good come from that place?

In view of all that is happening around the world today, this verse seems apt. From China (the virus) to the US (various reactions to the announcement of Biden’s running mate), Russia (a potential vaccine) to India (yet another natural disaster), we seem to be faced with an onslaught of news that begs the question above. And it seems that whatever one’s point of view, there will always be a cynical or negative reaction to what may appear positive to many others.

Just a few days ago, I received a phone call from a young staff who had decided to resign. As this had been his first job, I could sense a certain hesitancy and uncertainty as to how I would react to the news. I kept assuring him that it was a good move indeed, especially since his attitude had recently been called into question by one or two of his superiors. It appeared that the preceding years of recognition as a good, solid performer had gotten to his head; and he began challenging those around, and immediately above him, in the hierarchy.

I was glad that he had come to a realisation that he was probably not cut out for his new role within the team (he had shown a keen interest and asked for it), and needed to explore opportunities outside of our organisation. He admitted that he had spent the past few weeks reflecting on his shortcomings and decided it was time to move on. This was one time when I heaved a sigh of relief because, just two nights prior, I had a conversation with a temp contract staff who we wanted to keep, and whose contract was up in a month’s time. I told him we could not convert him to a full-time role unless someone resigned from the team. So whether this is providence or sheer luck, I prefer to see it as God sending me a clear message — to never question, nor doubt those who struggle to find themselves, especially during these trying times. Because goodness will always prevail, and those who are worthy will eventually rise up — God was indeed helping me separate the wheat from the chaff.

Similarly in ministry, there have been more than a few ‘surprises’ as we switch to almost fully virtual sessions online. As leaders, we tend to lament the lack of support from those around us. Yet, it is during these past two months — when we had to scramble a few recordings and upload them to be put together — that more than a few members volunteered to become ‘producers’. The result truly affirmed my ministry’s purpose — to help people encounter and connect with God through worship. Many who Zoomed in said that they missed the P&W and it “felt like home again”.

Brothers and sisters, good always comes from those with a beating heart. I have witnessed that over the past weeks and have come to appreciate how many who struggle in daily life continue to give to the Lord; with whatever little they have, however fraught their circumstances. I encourage all of us to approach situations not with our own eyes, but to put on the lens of Christ. And instead of our usual dose of cynicism, ask ourselves, “So what good is so-and-so bringing to the table today?” Because only then will we start to appreciate how God works in our lives through the mundane and the inconsequential interactions we face each and every day.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Abba Father, we continue to rely on your providence and your guidance as we encounter people who we dislike, who we wish could do better for us, who we know are struggling. Bless them and give them the strength and the hope to always devote their efforts to you.

Thanksgiving:  We thank you Lord, for never forsaking us and for always blessing us a hundredfold with all your graces.

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