14 July, Thursday — Wait with Hope, Labour with Joy

Jul 14 – Memorial for St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest

St. Camillus (1550-1614) used to be a gambling addict. He lost so much he had to take a job working construction on a building belonging to the Capuchins; they converted him. Because of a persistent injury, he moved into San Giacomo Hospital for the incurable, and eventually became its administrator.

Lacking education, he began to study with children when he was 32 years old. St. Camillus founded the Congregation of the Servants of the Sick (the Camellians) who care for the sick both in hospital and home. He honoured the sick as living images of Christ, and hoped that the service he gave them did penance for his wayward youth.

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Isa 26:7-9,12,16-19
Mt 11:28-30

“…I will give you rest… my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Life on this earth is sometimes filled with broken dreams, delayed fulfilment and frustrated desires. In the face of disasters, tragedies, broken relationships and imperfect outcomes of our day-to-day efforts, we may struggle to reconcile with various challenges, and find that the true joy and satisfaction some of us long for really exists beyond the veil of this world.

Thus, it is a veiled understanding we hold, somehow recognising that there is another dimension, a spiritual reality to this life…“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is 55:9) God spoke this to the Israelites as they struggled to remain faithful despite their prolonged exile; who laboured tirelessly and were thirsting for rest and salvation.

Likewise, as reflected in our first reading of Isaiah 26, we hear the exultations and prayers of God’s people, who seek His peace and comfort in the face of the distress and oppression they faced.

At night my soul longs for you
And my spirit in me seeks for you…
As a woman with child near her time
Writhes and cries out in her pangs,
So are we, O Lord, in your presence:
We have conceived, we writhe
As if we were giving birth;
We have not given the spirit of salvation to the earth, no more inhabitants of the world are born.

Indeed, there are seasons — days, months, even years — when our lives (both professional and personal), relationships, and spiritual walk are dry. The Israelites were demoralised and writhing in despair. Yet, they held on and waited in hope, painful and silent as the wait might have been.

“Awake and exult, all you who lie in the dust,” they proclaimed. These words tell us that after writhing in the dust, they rose up and continued to labour with joy — an earthy joy mixed with the dusty grit of hard work.

This encourages me on two levels. One, yes writhing in dust and despair IS normal. It IS human and God does not disdain our feelings! Two, I will not fear the dust, but to trust wholeheartedly in this seemingly chaotic and barren land which God has presently placed me in. God will not abandon me. God will not abandon you. We who have been given what seems like impossible fields to till.

“For your dew is a radiant dew and the land of ghosts will give birth.” Yes! It is right and just that I hand over my burdens to God and allow myself a good night’s rest. Trusting that when the morning comes, even the barren land will conceive and bring forth new life! Not solely by my laborious sweat, but owing to His abundant life-giving dewfall! I am here to be His hands and His feet, and to be the channel by which He will water this work.

My yoke is easy and my burden light. These words are grace-filled assurances that the work I do is God’s holy assignment, and He is my holy Master. Entrusting myself and my labour into his hands, I can release my yoke of burdens and rest in Him…for He is truly the one who carries the yoke.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Pray: Lord, may I never forget how much you provide for me, every moment, every day, all the while. Grant me the grace of understanding and fortitude to trust in Your Spirit, who inspires me and guides me through this entire work and my life’s journey.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for giving me courage to ask for what is just and due to me; for giving me wisdom to know that I am worth more than many sparrows. Thank you Lord, for entrusting this work to me; for opportunities in the face of adversity.

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