Monday, 26 November 2007

Today's Readings

Yet more readings- today's, that is (Mon 26 Nov):

Luke 21: 1-4
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”

MyReflection: True love doesn't calculate- it spends lavishly. It's not the value of the gift that matters, but the generous and loving sacrifice that goes into and along with it. It's easy to give when one has a lot, but try giving one's all, especially when that 'all' is of gigantic cost to the giver. The poor widow's offering (which I bet she could use to buy food for herself) is reckless and foolish in the eyes of the world, but in Jesus' eyes (and thus God's eyes) is of immesurable value to her and others.

Daniel 1: 1-20
In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem and laid it under siege. Now the Lord delivered King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, along with some of the vessels of the temple of God. He brought them to the land of Babylonia to the temple of his god and put the vessels in the treasury of his god. The king commanded Ashpenaz, who was in charge of his court officials, to choose some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent – young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated and having keen insight, and who were capable of entering the king’s royal service – and to teach them the literature and language of the Babylonians. So the king assigned them a daily ration from his royal delicacies and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. As it turned out, among these young men were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. He therefore asked the overseer of the court officials for permission not to defile himself. Then God made the overseer of the court officials sympathetic to Daniel. But he responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? If that happened, you would endanger my life with the king!” Daniel then spoke to the warden whom the overseer of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see.” So the warden agreed to their proposal and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine from their diet and gave them a diet of vegetables instead.
Now as for these four young men, God endowed them with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom – and Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams. When the time appointed by the king arrived the overseer of the court officials brought them into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence. When the king spoke with them, he did not find among the entire group anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire.

MyRelection: How many of us, when life gets easy, start to take life easy? It's easy to turn to God and His laws when the going gets tough, but do we do so or stay so when the going gets easier? Daniel didn't. He didn't put the king's favour or his personal ambition above the laws of his God. Neither did he pretend to eat the king's food just to not offend the king or refuse totally to eat the food and thus court the king's anger. Do we often take these roads in our life? Either we break God's laws, or lie our way out of breaking God's laws, or simply get angry with whoever or whatever seems to put us in the way of breaking God's laws. None of these ways help God's plan for us and for others. What Daniel did in this reading is worth emulating- stand up for God's laws, but not in a in-your-face way.

Something I wrote...

A friend recently asked me to rewrite her letter talking about Catholic prayer to her Buddhist friend. Here is the rewritten letter (with names deleted for privacy reasons):

Dearest _____,

How are you? _____ here. I’m writing this letter to tell you about some common Catholic prayers. It’s my hope that you will find them beautiful and worthy of learning.

Catholic common prayer 1#: Our Father

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the test,
but deliver us from evil. Amen

In Mandarin it sounds like this:


In Bahasa Melayu it sounds like this:

Bapa kami yang ada di syurga
Dimuliakanlah nama-Mu
Datanglah Kerajaan-Mu
Jadilah kehendak-Mu
Di atas bumi seperti di dalam surga
Berilah kami rezeki pada hari ini
Dan ampunilah kesalahan kami
seperti kami pun mengampuni yang bersalah kepada kami
Dan janganlah masukkan kami ke dalam percubaan
Tetapi bebaskanlah kami dari yang jahat. Amin

Catholic common prayer 2#: Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

In Mandarin it sounds like this:


In Bahasa Melayu it sounds like this:

Salam Maria, penuh rahmat.
Tuhan sertamu.
Terpujilah Engkau di antara wanita,
dan terpujilah buah tubuh-Mu, Yesus.
Santa Maria bonda Allah,
doakanlah kami yang berdosa ini,
sekarang dan waktu kami mati. Amin.

Catholic common prayer 3#: Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 4#: I Believe

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 4#: Prayer before eating

Bless us, O Lord, and these your gifts,
which we are about to receive from your generosity,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 5#: Prayer after eating

We give you thanks, almighty God, for all your gifts,
you who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 6#: Prayer before sleeping

Dear Lord I ask you to protect me against all harm and evil that may attack me tonight.
Into Your hands dear Lord I commend my body, mind, soul and spirit. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 6#: Prayer after sleeping

Good morning Lord, it's great to be with You again today.
I'm glad You are going to walk with me today.
Help me in all I do and say today, bring a smile to my lips for everyone I meet today,
place on my tongue kind and gentle words for everyone I speak with today.
And when my work is over grant me a safe journey home. Amen.

You may ask who is this Lord I’m taking about. Basically Lord means ‘boss’ and one of the ways of naming God. Like we call our parents Pa or Ma, so we Catholics call our God Lord.

You can also create your own prayer. After all, God wants to be our friend, so we should talk to him like we talk to our friends. Here is the formula:

1. Stop thinking of other things. One way to do this is to close your eyes and think of God.
2. Present yourself to God by bowing your head, putting your hands together, and/or making the sign of the cross
3. Talk to God- you can thank him for something, talk about how good he is, and/or ask him for something.
4. Invoking the name, glory or life of Jesus, e.g. “in the most holy and precious name of Jesus I pray”
5. Closing your prayer, often with ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Let it be so’)

It’s good to pray for your friends and family. This way you not only help them by asking God to do something for them but also allow God to work through you and in this way helping you too. Why don’t you start by praying for me? And don’t worry: I’ll pray for you too.

Please do visit me anytime. Take care of yourself. I miss you and can’t wait to see you.
May God bless you always.