11 September, Friday — Winning the War

Friday of Week 23 in Ordinary Time

1 Cor 9:16-19,22-27
Lk 6:39-42

…we do it for a wreath that will never wither.

I will be ‘celebrating’ my over 10 years of service at my current workplace this year, not at our annual staff dinner but virtually. As part of the festivities, my HR division is putting together a video tribute and there are 8 of us who will be ‘honoured’ with a segment. I can imagine that my other colleagues have already recorded their messages and contributed some pictures of me — that is how past tributes have been done.

When HR reached out to me and asked 4 questions, the last one was in the vein of what advice I would give to all staff. It got me thinking about my 10-year journey and helped me recall many, many wonderful memories with a host of ex-colleagues, some of whom remain friends. I replied (via email) that this was a unique situation for me (I have never been with an organisation for more than 4 years) and I said that to spend 1/3 of my work life with at one place was a blessing. However, there are still challenges ahead and more work to be done so we all have to remember why we are doing the work we signed up for — to give hope and bring success to a special group of young Singaporeans who aspire to getting a degree. Many of them are the first in their families to get into university, many of them come from broken homes and had to overcome abuse, even ridicule to get to where they are.

So for me, that is what spurs me on. Doing what I do best to help the university achieve its mission and goals. This is probably what St Paul wanted to remind those in Corinth — to fight for the mission of Jesus and to spread His love, rather than chase personal glory. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done, especially when we are so immersed in social media these days and are part of multiple group chats on WhatsApp. I recently decided to acquiese to a request to edit a chat message I had sent, thanking our SD for his efforts in putting together our Triduum. The person had highlighted her important effort as well and how she had worked tirelessly. In no uncertain terms, it was pointed out to me how hard she had worked behind the scenes (‘Just some honest feedback’).

I thought for a while and then decided that there was no use ‘fighting back’ and to just accede to her request (it was more a huge hint) to include her name in the re-sent message. Ultimately, it was no biggie for me. And when I was questioned by another leader, who felt it was not right to include the name of the member, I felt validated. Because even though I could have stood my ground and simply ignored the ‘hint’, I considered it a small victory in a longer, ongoing ‘war’. This episode was merely a skirmish to me, but in the hands of someone else, it may have turned into a full-scale battle.

Brothers and sisters, for many of us, life is a constant battle. We fight our emotions, we allow them to surface, we fight with our family members, our parents, our children…we fight with our colleagues…we fight with those in authority…we fight because we don’t want to lose out…we fight change…we fight our urges…we fight injustice…we fight the system.

Think about it for a moment. If everyone else is so busy fighting, throwing punches, sending off toxic emails/chat messages, who is at the receiving end? How many of us actually sit back and take the blows from others? Christ did it for the 3 years he was actively ministering. He certainly did it on the road to Calvary. Can we all try to learn from His example and, instead of fighting back all the time, just let someone who is hurting throw a punch at us? I am not saying we all become doormats and let everyone trample over us. But if we can steel ourselves with God’s love and take some blows from those around us who are hurting, who need to vent, who need an outlet, then surely, that is part of our ‘training regime’ to become better Christians. Because in taking the blows, we only toughen ourselves up against those very hurts that can wound us; and in the process, we learn to be empathetic to others, we learn to love just a little bit more. We learn just how to be more like Jesus.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Abba Father, we pray that you continue to nurture us, mould us in the fire of your love, and help us learn how to be tough in your eyes so that we are able to endure the blows from those around us who are hurting.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you, Lord, for always caring for us and tending to our wounds when we meet you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

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