Monday of Week 22 in Ordinary Time
1 Ths 4:13-18
The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, because he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor…
In the gospel today, Jesus, who was preaching in the synagogue in this hometown of Nazareth, was driven out by the attendees; perhaps due to a rejection of his identity, his authority or even the doctrines that were being communicated. In our church today, we too have much division when it comes to doctrines, even among Christians on the doctrines that are being taught in the church, especially when it comes to moral issues. Personally, I have struggled with many of these issues and find it hard to reconcile the teachings of the church with the circumstances around me at times, which have led to the occasional questioning of my faith.
Recently, I attended a local theatrical production – one of the best I’ve seen in years. The theme is set upon the LGBTQ community, the struggles with their sexual orientation in our society and their attempts to repeal one of the sections in the penal code. Although a heterosexual, I do have friends from this community and could identify with certain struggles mentioned in the play. Perhaps by virtue of a combination of masculinity and femininity, my homosexual friends are some of the most peace-loving, gentle and sensitive humans that I have come across. Many of them are also extremely filial to their parents, despite being rejected by many of their family members. Their temperance and good works outshine the religious heterosexuals I’ve encountered. Watching the play makes me feel for the challenges they faced growing up as many of them continued to be ostracized and misunderstood even in their later years. With lots of criticism levelled at the Catholic Church over LGBTQ issues, I’m sure some of us can be confused with the church’s stand and do question our faith at times.
In a homily I’ve come across at the beginning of this year, the celebrant highlighted that the disagreements in doctrinal issues stem primarily from the disagreement with regards to the identity of Jesus. From this identity flows the other related doctrinal issues, especially with the identity of the Church. In order to be sure that we are walking in the truth, the key is fidelity to the orthodoxy that has been handed down – to trace back to the foundations of the gospel. Although doctrines can develop over time, they must be faithful to the original doctrines as taught in the beginning. When we begin to question if we are walking in the truth, the best way is to go back to the Fathers of the Church — they being the closest to the apostles of the Church, would depict the truth. At the end of the day, it is not just doctrines alone, but it is how we live our lives in charity. As the word ‘Catholic’ suggests, it means to be universal and inclusive. God is love and has commanded us to love others. It has nothing to do with how we feel, although feelings, when matched with our will, makes the process of loving so much easier. In fact, the Church is all about loving the whole person and deeply against any discrimination towards a particular community or race. Having concluded my research on this topic also strengthened my confidence in the faith and the teachings of the church. With love being the backdrop of our faith, we are all invited to accept the love, forgiveness, mercy and redemption of Christ regardless of our secular identity.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the communities in our society that are being misunderstood, rejected and marginalized. We pray that everyone will find the support and encouragement they need to help them withstand the pain and draw them close to you, so that they can experience love that is truly unconditional. Give us the will and strength to forgive ourselves and others from the misgivings 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 guiding us on the path of righteousness.