20 February, Sunday —  Surrendering the battle, to win the war

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Sam 26:2,7-9,11-13.22-23
1 Cor 15:45-49
Lk 6:27-38

Here is the king’s spear…” 

At the main altar in the Church of St Alphonsus (Novena Church), is the stained glass of our Lady of Ransom. Amongst the many titles of our Blessed Mother, this is perhaps one of the lesser-known ones. In 1218, our Lady appeared to three separate persons with the same message – establish an order for redeeming captives. At that time in history, during the 13th Century, the powerful Islamic Ottoman Empire operated a slave trade the scope of which has not been seen anytime else in history. The Spanish, particularly, were subject to raids in which they would be captured and imprisoned, sold into slavery and often forced to renounce their Catholic faith or face severe discrimination, torture and death. The three individuals eventually went on to form the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. Through this order, ransoms were paid; and hundreds of thousands of captured Christian pilgrims were thus saved from certain death. Just as Christ was the ransom paid to redeem and save us.

St Alphonsus, founder of the Redemptorist order, also made the symbolic act of surrendering a sword by laying it at the feet of our Blessed Mother. This was his own renunciation of his worldly ambitions and dedication of himself to the religious life. That moment was the inception of the spiritual transformation of one of the greatest saints of the Catholic Church – St Alphonsus. The Redemptorist order that he founded, in turn, went on through the centuries, to Make Her Known – Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

This image of the Lady of Ransom has also come to mean something very different and special to me. Every time I attend Mass at Novena Church and as I gaze upon the altar during the consecration of the Eucharist, I have come to see the sword laid at the feet of Mother Mary, as my own need to surrender our own swords in our lives. This is the sword which has caused all the pain, the wounds, the brokenness, the hurts, the sorrows, the regrets to us and which we have used to inflict on others. This is the sword that has caused division, bitterness, hatred and destruction in the lives of others and which others have caused in my life. This is the sword that was used to kill the hopes, the aspirations, the joys, the security and the peace of those around me, and they to me. This is the sword that was used to destroy instead of to build, to divide instead of to unite, to hurt instead of to heal, to condemn instead of to forgive, to cast into hell instead of to redeem them for heaven. This is the sword that was used to do the work of the devil rather than to fight the battles for Christ.

This is the sword that Our Blessed Mother asks of you and me to place at her feet. Each day, in every moment and in every circumstance. Because only her Son has the power to use that sword to draw forth His holy blood which will ultimately sanctify, redeem and save us. So, the next time you should ever gaze upon an image of our Lady of Ransom, remember this — you have been redeemed, renewed, restored and healed…but only if you choose to surrender your sword to Jesus, through Mary.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo) 

Prayer: Father, help us. Rescue us from the destructiveness of our violent passions, for the harshness and severity of our judgments and unforgiveness, and fragility of our egos and pride. For the damage these have caused to others.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for the love of our Blessed Mother which has comforted, guided and protected the helplessness and sinfulness of her children. For a Mother that does not forsake her own children, but which wraps her children in the mantle of her unfailing love and sanctification. Help us surrender the swords of our lives at her feet and to leave them there, never to take them up ever again.

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