5th Sunday of Easter
1 Jn 3:18-24
…only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence, whatever accusation it may raise against us, because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
In this day and age, our brains are probably wired to make quick judgements about others’ behaviours, so that we can move through the world without spending too much time or energy on understanding everything we see and hear. Once we have formed an opinion or taken a stand in any situation, it will be harder to change our mindsets, especially regarding negative impressions. As the saying goes, first impressions matter. Negative emotions and feedback have more impact than good ones, and negative information is processed more thoroughly than the positive, hence resulting in bad impressions or negative stereotypes being more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.
In the first and second readings today, the common denominator lies in the word ‘deeds’. Saul would not have been able to convince the disciples to accept him, or have Barnabas speak up for him, if not for his deeds after his conversion on route to Damascus. In the second reading, loving in deed and truth overshadows the love in word and speech. Good deeds, indeed, can overcome the psychological effects of the negative ones; but when equal measures of good and bad are present, the psychological effects of bad ones will outweigh the positives. That is why it probably takes a lot more effort, considerable number of good deeds and a great deal of time to reverse the negative impressions of others, especially for someone like Saul, who had been persecuting Christians for the longest time.
Entering the season of Eastertide and reflecting back on the promises I’ve made during the period of Lent, it’s no surprise that I’ve failed terribly (again) in the promises I’ve committed to — particularly the good deeds which I’ve failed to stick to. It’s turning into a vicious cycle year after year; making resolutions, failing to accomplish them, only to repeat the process the following year. Which makes me wonder at times – is it worthwhile making commitments in future Lenten seasons? Thankfully, such thoughts do not survive long. And only because of the Grace of God. The exasperation and despair are often Satan’s ways of tricking us into further drifting away from God. Saint Peter’s denial of Jesus is a perfect example of this, and he ended up turning away in guilt and remorse. If that could happen to a saint, it sure can happen to me and many times more. God allows us to fall into failure in order to strip away our self-confidence. By failing terribly in light of our own actions, we are forced to admit that without the Lord, we can do nothing right. The quicker we learn not to depend on our own strength but the Lord’s, the better we are coming out of the rut. Hence, for all of us sinners here who are reminiscing on our own misdeeds and guilt, let us not continue in despair. We can’t go back to change our past; we can’t stay rooted in our present remorse either. For life can only be lived by moving forward, and with God’s grace, to allow our broken selves to be picked up again so that He can make us useful.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, draw us close to you, especially during moments of despair and guilt. Give us the will and strength to forgive ourselves from the chains that bind us. May you shower your comfort upon us and give us the peace that transcends all understanding. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for being with us every single moment of our lives and protecting us from the temptations of this world.