21 July, Thursday — Seek ye first the kingdom of God

Jul 21 – Memorial for St. Lawrence of Brindisi, priest, religious, doctor

St. Lawrence (1559-1619) joined the Capuchin Friars in 1575. He studied theology, the Bible, French, German, Greek, Spanish, Syriac, and Hebrew. He was an effective and forceful preacher in any of his several languages, founded convents and wrote catechisms.

As the chaplain of the army of the Holy Roman Empire in 1601, he led the army into battle against the Turks carrying only a crucifix, and defeated them. Later, he carried out important and successful diplomatic peace missions. He was the spiritual director of the Bavarian army. St Lawrence was proclaimed Apostolic Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959.

  • Patron Saint Index

Jer 2:1-3,7-8,12-13
Mt 13:10-17

…they have abandoned me, the fountain of living water…

In the beginning of the pandemic, after much discerning, I stepped away from a ministry I had been in for almost a decade. Not long after, I decided to go back to studying. In previous reflections, I shared that at the beginning of this year, studies are much harder. With resumption of face to face classes, more assignments and research, I barely have time to do much else. Yes, sacrifices have been made, my personal time, social time and time with God. I have stopped going for weekday mass, and with the pandemic, it has become worse. I have become like most others — I am a Sunday Catholic.

I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride. I remembered those years when I was working a demanding full-time job, and caring for an elderly parent. Yet I had time to be fully involved in ministry. That was where I found my joy. I look back and wonder how I did it all. Suffice to say that it took up many days in a week and on top of that, I’d use half my leave days to serve in the retreats. What gave me the energy? Because it had meaning and purpose, and I could see how others were touched by the Lord, which in turn strengthened my faith.

They have forsaken me. I can hear the Lord saying that with much sadness now.

On Pentecost Sunday, our Bishop (now Cardinal-elect) came to our parish to celebrate our feast day. He repeated a message I had heard several times before – when we encounter the Lord, our hearts are on fire, but that fire quickly dies when we do not have a community. This time, the message pierced my heart with immaculate precision. A praying and holy community keeps us rooted in our faith journey. They support us, encourage us and pray with us, and in turn we too support them. That’s what a community does. At the same time, community can also be very painful and hurtful, and make us angry. Sadly, it is for these reasons that I left ministry. It ceased to become a community when we focused too much on the doing, without praying. It was simply a ministry. However, being out of a community for the past few years, I feel my roots weakening. I have become secular, too caught up in the worries of this world – for me it is my studies, assignments and exams.

Today’s first reading is about Israel’s disobedience and disloyalty. And so as I ponder on this reading, I ask myself, what is more significant to us than God? The very things that take up the most time and space in our days and also in our hearts. Those are our idols! God also reminds us in today’s gospel that ‘For anyone who has, he will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’ What is more important to us, dear brothers and sisters?

A popular old hymn we sing tells us…..

Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Allelu, alleluia

Man shall not live by bread alone
But by every word
That proceeds from the mouth of God
Allelu, alleluia

Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
Allelu, alleluia

Seek God first, be faithful in our relationship with Him and all else will follow. Truth be told, I know in my heart that when I come face to face with the Lord, I know that it’s how I live my life according to His purpose that’s important. I just need to keep remembering this and not get caught up by the world.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Help me Father, for I am weak. Forgive me for forsaking You and causing you so much sorrow. Keep me near you. Strengthen my faith and help me walk closer to You.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for never abandoning me. Thank you for not giving up on me and holding me close. I am nothing without you.


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