Living our faith: Sharing God’s blessings

Ervin TanFeature, Reflections

Living our faith: Sharing God’s blessings

In this extract from a homily, Msgr Philip Heng, S.J. urges us to put our faith in God, and cautions that our self-centred tendencies, though human, pull us away from eternal life with God. We are reminded to use our time, talent and resources for the betterment of the Church.

Rev Msgr Heng reminds us that self-centred tendencies keep us from God.
Photo: Catholic Foundation

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

You and I have faith and that is why we gather for Mass. While our foundation in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour is the same, each of us experiences and lives our faith in our own unique way.

Jairus and the unclean woman

For example, in Mark 5:21-43, we have two very different people who are in desperate need: Jairus the synagogue official and the poor woman suffering from haemorrhage. While it is clear that both have tremendously deep faith, allowing them to break the conventions of their respective statuses to seek a miracle, they expressed their faith differently.

Upon seeing Jesus, the elite Jewish official, Jairus fell to his knees and pleaded for Jesus to heal his dying daughter. Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw the great faith and humility that Jairus had. When news came that his daughter had passed on, Jesus raised her back to life.

On the other hand, the woman who suffered from haemorrhage needed the cure for herself, not someone else. She was banned from coming into contact with anyone in public as she was seen as “unclean” and others feared being possessed by the demons in her. However, in her deep faith, she thought to herself that by merely touching His clothes she would be well again. Rising above her social stigma, breaking all the social norms, she squeezed through the crowd and reached out for Jesus.

Trusting fully in God

Reflecting on Jairus and the unnamed woman, we learn that an essential part of our faith is our response to trials and desperation in our lives. We must dare to believe strongly that Jesus will always respond to our needs if we plead earnestly for His help. We have to also remember that only God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, knows what is best for us, not only what we need in this world, but also for our eternal salvation.

Everyone in the world wants a meaningful, happy life. Unfortunately, the truth is that not all of us, not every Christian, is willing to entrust our lives and our future to God as fully as we ought to. We want to seek God’s will, but at the same time, we do not want to let go of our self-centred tendencies.

I have no doubt that if God had answered all my petitions, based on what I thought I wanted in life and what I thought was good for me, I would surely not have become a Jesuit religious and an ordained priest today. We want to get into heaven after our time on earth, but we still live as though our choices and actions are not connected to life after death.

Sharing God’s blessings

More specifically, we continue to be attached to all the blessings, including the material wealth that God has given us, and are not willing to share them with others –
the poor, the needy and the Church. We even condition ourselves to think that there is no need to share, as these blessings are ours to keep. How true is this?

Imagine a rice farmer who receives a gift – a huge lake of clean water. Soon after, his country experiences a drought, neighbouring rice fields dry up and their crops die. Is it unreasonable to expect this person to share his abundance of water for the good of his fellow farmers? Can he, who has been so blessed to receive such a great gift, claim that he has no obligation to share his blessing with those in need?

Today, we need to ask ourselves, “Can I honestly say that I am not guilty of the sin of omission? Do I believe that I have generously used God’s abundant blessings for the good of the poor, the needy and the Church?” Quite honestly, I believe many of us Catholics are in one way or another guilty of this.

Meeting the needs of the Church

This is the main reason why the Archdiocese is finding it so difficult to raise the necessary funds through the GIFT campaign for our Archdiocese’s needs. It is not that our Catholics do not have enough to share. Even if a quarter of our Catholics were willing to share the abundant blessings of time, talents and wealth for the needs of the Church, I have no doubt that it would take only six months to raise the resources that the Archdiocese has been desperately appealing for.

It is just that most of us are too used to a culture that reinforces the belief that it is a “big and painful sacrifice” to give to the Church. However, the truth is that we, who have received ample blessings from God, are only asked to return a portion, for the needs of the Church.

The Church believes in providence. Each of us needs to as well. We need to entrust our lives, our future and our hopes to God.

In times of trial and desperation in our lives, we are challenged to remain strong in our faith. Approach and trust Jesus and never give in to the darkness and deceptions of discouragement and self-pity, as these can easily lead us to lose our trust in Him. He wants to show us His compassion, His love and His peace.

However, our self-centred tendencies are keeping us from Him. Let us remember to be generous and share the blessings that were freely 8iven to us.

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