24 November, Tuesday – Sorry We Are Out Of Seats

Nov 24 – Memorial for St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest, martyr, and companions, Martyrs of Vietnam

Between the arrival of the first Portuguese missionary in 1533, through the Dominicans and then the Jesuit missions of the 17th century, the politically inspired persecutions of the 19th century, and the Communist-led terrors of the 20th, there have been many thousands of Catholics and other Christians murdered for their faith in Vietnam. Some were priests, nuns, or religious brothers. Some were lay people, some were foreign missionaries, but most were native Vietnamese killed by their own government and people.

Record keeping being what it was, and because the government did not care to keep track of the people it murdered, we have no information on the vast bulk of the victims. In 1988, Pope John Paul II recognized over a hundred of them, including some whose Causes we do have, and in commemoration of those we do not. They are collectively known as the Martyrs of Vietnam.

St. Andrew Dung Lac (1785-1839) was a Vietnamese priest who worked in the missions with the priests of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris (MEP). He was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured in the persecutions of Minh-Meng. He died with St. Peter Thi, beheaded in Hanoi for the offense of being a priest. He was canonized on 19 Jun 1988 by Pope John Paul II. He is one of the Martyrs of Vietnam.

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Apo 14:14-19
Lk 21:5-11

Take care not to be deceived, because many will come using my name

Many years ago, my friend invited me to accompany her on a short weekend trip to Malaysia. The plan was to take a coach from Singapore and meet up with a local friend who would show us around. We were told of the departure point and time of the coach and so arranged to meet up there to catch our ride. However we arrived at the waiting coach (albeit on the dot and not ten minutes early as advised) both frantic and panting, to the nonchalant announcement by the guide, “Sorry we are out of seats.”

I recall feelings of disappointment and dejection pour down on us, and we were literally left stranded at the driveway as the coach pulled away from us. After settling down somewhere to chat, we both discovered that there was some misinformation between us both, and with the tour organizer. We had each interpreted the ‘Reservation’ of coach seats wrongly and the tour organizer thought that we were not turning up that morning. Even though we finally arrived, it was just too late to sort out the administrative details. It was a good lesson learnt for us and we were more careful next time to make sure we had a common and clear understanding of the terms, conditions, and information needed before we embark on any trip. Check, double-check, triple-confirm. Our next trip turned out with no such glitch!

But we don’t have this luxury for Life itself, to say “Next time I will know better to do this.” Jesus warned those who marvelled at the grandeur of the temple, of this physical world, that “the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another; everything will be destroyed.” Being human, we have this instinctive need to gather information, to find out exactly the details of such a time hoping we can cleverly prepare ourselves for the time. Yet we lose focus on what is truly important – that Jesus is standing before us this very moment. We are like the temple-goers who stand face to face, speaking with the true Messiah without realising it, but instead rather look to a future event thinking we can successfully plan ahead by recognising the signs and symbols. Not now for me, we think. And so presently, we only want to know those forecast clues.

If today you stand before a decision to choose Christ over something else of this world, would you choose to recognise Him and fall at His feet proclaiming that He is indeed the Lord of your life? Our daily decisions do present to us either the choice to marvel at the fine stonework and gleaming treasures of the present world, or the choice to turn to our Lord and God as the most important relationship we must nurture and depend on in this life.

We do often kid ourselves with this phrase, “but for now…” the part and parcel of surviving in this world, of making a living, or of achieving the physical or material goals I have set for myself, is of paramount importance. And we comfort ourselves that we are sure God would understand. We constantly fear that we would lose out on the chance and opportune time to be set for life, in this world – forgetting that there is nothing more terrifying than to arrive suddenly at the end of our lives, frantically clutching a fistful of misinterpretations or wrong priorities – indeed many others and many misplaced goals would have you deceived! Then we are told at the departure gates to our eternal journey that, “I’m sorry you have got the details all wrong. You read the signs wrong.” You thought all these other things were your God. You should have focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, and not foolishly asked Him for the time and signs so you could get ready to be ‘just in time’.

Choose Christ now; choose now His body which is the Church. Receive the salvation which is offered up at every Eucharistic celebration for you. Choose Jesus as your present guide in life, and abandon the need for superfluous signs. With Jesus as our constant travel companion, the seat will always be saved for us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: I pray that I can be brutally honest with myself to examine the heart of my intentions. When I should choose Jesus, let me not bury my intention with layers of excuses that there is still time to spare, when really, I do not know.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the assurance of second chances that I can return to you like the Prodigal Son. May I not be complacent, but approach you with true gratitude and repentance.

One thought on “24 November, Tuesday – Sorry We Are Out Of Seats

Add yours

  1. Debbie
    Oh mi. What insight you have shared in this reflection. Thank you so much. I am sharing it with a several circles of friends.
    Thank you.

    Like

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