30 August, Tuesday — Do you know Him?

Tuesday of Week 22 in Ordinary Time

1 Cor 2:10-16
Luke 4:31-37

I know who you are: the holy one of God.”

My daughter is just learning about magnets in school. She has a Weighted Assessment next week, and so we have been revising. Or rather, I’ve been frantically googling and re-teaching her. One concept she has yet to fully grasp is that when a magnet is placed close to an unknown object, and that unknown object moves away, that unknown object is absolutely a magnet as well. Because only magnets repel magnets. I have repeated this time and time again, and I hope she can internalise this concept of repulsion by the time PSLE rolls around in 3 years’ time.

The demon today’s passage from Luke’s gospel pretty much threw in the towel and fled without much ado as soon as Jesus rebuked it. It was instantly repelled by God’s authority. Demons cower and run at the approach of God because they can recognise God, and it is in their nature to flee Him (just as I assume Angels automatically run to Him). We, as humans, however, do not have such a reflex inbuilt into our systems. We have been given free will to choose if we want to turn away from God, or draw closer to Him.

Aside from free will, we have been given God’s own spirit. Having God’s spirit in us allows us to know Him, and to listen to Him, and understand the love that He has heaped on us. And what do we do with this? We sometimes decide to ignore Him and go down the path of our own choosing. I know I do that, not just sometimes but rather often. And I’m quite probably in good company. An interesting thing about this that I have been asking myself, is whether the ignoring has become a knee-jerk reaction for me. In a way, am I now disposed to be repelled by the very thought of God’s will? Am I becoming a demon? Of course not!

We do not recoil in terror the way we see demons do on television, snarling and hissing and burning up whenever they come in contact with someone or something holy. We turn away quietly, rationally, justifying our decisions with quantifiable reasons. Life is definitely not clear cut black and white. We do need a lot of deliberation for almost anything we do. And when life takes a downward turn, fear influences our decision making. It is not a repulsion against God, but more pushing His suggestion lower down on the priority list. However, I cannot help but wonder: if I persist in choosing to ignore God, will it become second nature to me eventually? 

I am someone who tends to overthink. I do that a lot of the time and for a lot of things. Sometimes, I end up not making a decision; most of the time I end up making a rash, and perhaps wrong, decision. If only I had included some discernment in the deliberation process, spent some time in prayer and contemplation, perhaps I could have heard an answer to my questions. At the very least, the wisdom of God would have told me I don’t need to sweat the small stuff.

But what about the big stuff? At least for me, I know that while keeping God in sight does not automatically get rid of worries and solve problems, it does help to ease the anxiety. It is a fine balancing act between faith and fear, but we must put in the effort to balance it. While the pandemic kept us away from church for 2 years, we have since seen people flocking back. We are seeing their devotions and petitions, and thanksgiving as prayers are answered. My parish, St Anne’s Church, celebrated its feast day some weeks ago. We have a shrine to St Anne, and it was surrounded by beautiful bouquets during the feast day period. Father Jovita, our parish priest, penned on Instagram a lovely and impactful reflection that struck him as he looked at the shrine: “The ground you are standing on is holy ground, for it contains all the prayers of the people who have come here in need of hope.” 

Many of us are struggling — some would say we certainly have our demons to fight. In the midst of these struggles against ourselves, against fears, against worries, and against our own weaknesses, it is even more important to be able to see and seek God. And when we find Him, to cling to Him and not turn and run, driven away from Him by our demons. After all, God has the power to quell our demons and our fears too, if we just let go and let Him.

We do recognise God, and we do want to turn to Him. “I know who you are: the holy one of God” should not be an enraged snarl from a demon, but a humble acknowledgement from us of God and His authority, power, and love. We need to make it a habit to seek God first, to discern and pray, before we deliberate.  

(Today’s OXYGEN by Felicia Zou)

Prayer: Father, may we learn to recognise You and seek You in all we do.  

Thanksgiving: Father, we thank You for all the gifts You have lavished upon us. 

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