26 July, Monday — Sheltering from the storm

Jul 26 – Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary

By tradition, Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary’s father and mother come to us through legend and tradition. It was the parents of Mary who nurtured Mary, taught her, brought her up to be a worthy Mother of God. It was their teaching that led her to respond to God’s request with faith, “Let it be done to me as you will.” It was their example of parenting that Mary must have followed as she brought up her own son, Jesus. It was their faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed her to stand by the cross as her son was crucified and still believe. Such parents can be examples and models for all parents. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=22

Exo 32:15-24,30-34
Mt 13:31-35

“…so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.”

Many of us have a friend or confidante who, when all around us, things are going south and all is helter-skelter, we can run to or give the person a call and all will be fine. We will ‘find shelter’ in the branches that he/she provides whether in the form of a sanctuary, words of advice, or just a few hours to be with. For some, it is our spouse/life partner, a family member/sibling, a teacher/mentor, or a ministry leader/spiritual director/counsellor.

Have you ever thought about who that person then seeks shelter from when he/she needs it? Now, extrapolate that beyond people we know, and visualise the network of branches – that’s some kind of a tree. I love how Jesus spoke in such visual language which not just captures the imagination, but also lets us ‘see’ in our own minds, the sheer magnitude and effect of His love on mankind. All from a spark of faith within our hearts.

And it is this particular parable of the mustard seed that always encourages me to continue ploughing on when things get rough. But when the going gets really tough, I turn to a handful of fellow Catholics who provide me the much-needed ‘shelter’ so that I can collect my thoughts, reflect on the emotions of the moment, and then decide the next course of action. Sometimes, I seek answers; most times I look for confirmation and/or affirmation. To rely on someone else to provide shelter from the storms in our life is an act of submission and requires humility, as well as a lot of faith; that we will be protected and saved from whatever or whoever plagues us.

Yet more often than not, when we turn to God, we make demands of Him and insist that He fixes a situation or person for us. There is hardly any humility, reverence…let alone faith involved. I find it ironic that we seem to be more ‘concerned’ about approaching people than when we approach God.

Brothers and sisters, when we need to seek shelter from the storms in our life, we should approach God confident that only He can fix things and to heal us. We need to go to Him mindful of our sins and how we have failed to provide shelter for others. Only then, can we begin the process of finding ourselves again.    

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Lord, we pray that you give us the strength to recognise our faults and failures so that we can seek shelter in you.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for being the ever-loving, ever-generous, always giving God that provides just what we need, each and every day.

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