14 September, Wednesday — A Father’s love

Sep 14 – Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The feast was celebrated in Rome before the end of the 7th century. Its purpose is to commemorate the recovering of that portion of the Holy Cross which was preserved at Jerusalem, and which had fallen into the hands of the Persians. Emperor Heraclius recovered this precious relic and brought it back to Jerusalem on 3 May 629.

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Nm 21:4-9
Jn 3:13-17 

For God sent His son into the world,…so that through him the world might be saved.” 

On this feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, let us go back to Good Friday to reflect on Jesus’ love for us.

God is so madly in love with us that he’d do anything to save us from being lost and ruined, so much so that he’d leave his 99 good and obedient sheep behind in search for one lost sheep, and so much so that he’d even send his only son to be tortured and crucified. Jesus loves us so much that he’d allow himself to get accused and persecuted, never retaliating, never asking for a way out even knowing of his impending torture and death. It just doesn’t make sense. If you ask me, God’s love for us is really quite hard to understand. For those of us who haven’t really experienced love from a father, all the harder.

In the first reading, the people complained against God and against Moses about leaving them in the wilderness to die, that ‘there is neither bread nor water’ and ‘are sick of this unsatisfying food’. I am reminded of how petty and how shallow our love for God is. In good times, we praise him. But when the going gets tough, how easily we complain against God. I too am guilty of that and I often say, ‘I’m only human’ but is that a good excuse? After all, I am not a saint! Recently I received a bunch of unpleasant end-of-semester feedback from my students who accused me of being biased in the way I graded them. My initial reaction was, of course hurt, and then I wanted to go out and confront these students to justify my actions. I complained to God saying, “You asked me to love these kids and I did! I went out and I gave them my 110% but now look at how they persecuted me!” I even started to contemplate about possibly switching to another job. The last time when I wanted to leave my job, I prayed and begged God to help me get out of ‘Egypt’ and into the ‘Promised Land’; He did! I just never expected myself to end up an educator. So I knew it was all part of God’s plan. So far, it has been a steep learning curve and at every challenge, I question my purpose and complain how difficult this job is. But I am slowly beginning to appreciate that this job is so important to him. The phrase “feed my sheep” comes to mind. The job isn’t so much about passing on knowledge to the future generation, but a lot more than that. He is sending me out to hopefully be an influencer to these youths, to show them what care, compassion and love are – to try to touch the lives which are often broken and hurt.  

So just like in Luke 24:13-24, two men on the road to Emmaus were feeling rather hopeless that Jesus had died instead of redeeming Israel, so much so that they were not able to recognise Jesus even when he was walking next to them! Sometimes, we really wallow in our own problems, so much so that we really do not see what’s in front of us – which is that Jesus has died, resurrected and is now here with us! To recognise his cross and his love is to shoulder his yoke and learn from him (Matthew 11:29). If we surrender our lives to him and trust him to know all our pains, our worries and trials, then we will not find the crosses that we carry so heavy. Only when we are able to see everything in Jesus’ perspective, then will we remain calm at all times and find the peace that he so wants to give to us.  

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, each time that we look at the crucifix, may we be reminded of your crazy love for us, not just the torture and pain that went with it. Help us to understand a little more of your love for us, so that we can be full of that love and then to love our neighbours as you have commanded us to do.    

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Abba Father, for sending your son to save us; and thank you Jesus, for loving us so much that you’d willingly suffer and die on the cross, even when we’re so sinful, when we have failed to love others as much as you do.      

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