1st Sunday of Advent
Isa 63:16-17, 64:1,3–8
1 Cor 1:3-9
Why, Lord, leave us to stray from your ways and harden our hearts against fearing you?
One Saturday morning, I was all alone in Nativity Church, in quiet prayer before a statue of the Sacred Heart. It was a dismal morning — huge storm clouds were threatening — and the inside of the Church was very dark. It really felt like a hurricane would soon be upon us. And as if the atmosphere was not already ominous enough, a blood-curling cry suddenly erupted. A woman in a white pyjama dress, with dishevelled hair, her feet bare, deeply distraught and hysterical, came running into the Church towards the sanctuary — screaming, ranting, crying. Without exaggerating, it really looked like a scene from the Exorcist movie. Needless to say, I was stunned and shaken. I remember even closing my eyes — like a child watching a scary movie. But as the woman went on and on, I started to make out what she was saying — she had just lost her child. And my initial sense of terror slowly turned into a feeling of sorrow and pity. As a parent, I could only imagine the pain she must have been going through. I felt helpless as I continued to gaze at the scene, feebly trying to lift her in prayer to God. On that day, I cried for her.
It has been a long time since I cried for another person.
We have a lot to cry for in this day and age — suffering, sin, destruction. Calamities, pandemic, political chaos. These have all led to countless suffering. Of death, debilitating illness, poverty, hunger, joblessness, broken lives, broken families, of children being separated from their parents, of the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer, of moral decay, of our children drifting further and further away from God and the faith. Of parents having to see their children deprived of their future, of children seeing their parents’ desperation to eke out a living for their families. Of the selfishness, indifference, cruelty, manipulation, moral decay and spiritual treason of those who were somehow not affected by all of these events.
Brothers and sisters, when was the last time you prayed for another person — aside from your own family and friends? When was the last time your heart was not cold, indifferent and hard? When was the last time, the suffering and pain of another human being mattered to you? When was the last time you faced God and said to Him, “Why have I wandered so far from You? When has my heart become so hardened to You and to my brothers and sisters?” When was the time you cried for another suffering human being or animal? For me, the answer is a simple one — it has been too long.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)
Prayer: Help us Father. We have become so numb to sin, so indifferent to others and wandered so far away from You. We seem no longer capable of experiencing empathy for others. No longer able to show compassion. Our hearts have been so cold and hard.
Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for the gift of tears. For the times You have moved our spirits and our hearts to experience your love for us, and to allow us the grace to be able to be moved to love others.