I find today's reflection by Jean Cheng very useful in answering a lot of my personal questions and favorite subjects which are:
• Why some converts choose to become Catholics?
• The "...universal truths and guiding principles of life."
• I am surprised that sometimes we human beings are able "...to die to our own selfishness and choose another person's happiness over our own..."
• The "...recipe to the deep joy, peace, meaning, and purpose that our hearts truly desire."
• The "...secret recipe of life..."
• The danger of falling "...into the trap of being my own god."
I just had to share. The reading was tough for me to read with so much rules. But the reflection made a lot of sense to me.
Friday in the 17th Week of Ordinary Time
Fri, 2011 Jul 29
Today's 1st Reading:
The Lord spoke to Moses. He said:
'These are the Lord's solemn festivals, the sacred assemblies to which you are to summon the sons of Israel on the appointed day.
'The fourteenth day of the first month, between the two evenings, is the Passover of the Lord; and the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of Unleavened Bread for the Lord. For seven days you shall eat bread without leaven. On the first day you are to hold a sacred assembly; you must do no heavy work. For seven days you shall offer a burnt offering to the Lord. The seventh day is to be a day of sacred assembly; you must do no work.'
The Lord spoke to Moses. He said:
'Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them:
'"When you enter the land that I give you, and gather in the harvest there, you must bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest, and he is to present it to the Lord with the gesture of offering, so that you may be acceptable. The priest shall make this offering on the day after the sabbath.
'"From the day after the sabbath, the day on which you bring the sheaf of offering, you are to count seven full weeks. You are to count fifty days, to the day after the seventh sabbath, and then you are to offer the Lord a new oblation.
'"The tenth day of the seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly. You must fast, and you must offer a burnt offering to the Lord.
'"The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tabernacles for the Lord, lasting seven days. The first day is a day of sacred assembly; you must do no heavy work. For seven days you must offer a burnt offering to the Lord. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly, you must offer a burnt offering to the Lord. It is a day of solemn meeting; you must do no heavy work.
'"These are the solemn festivals of the Lord to which you are to summon the children of Israel, sacred assemblies for the purpose of offering burnt offerings, holocausts, oblations, sacrifices and libations to the Lord, according to the ritual of each day."'
Today's Reflection by Jean Cheng:
You must… you are to….
A very good friend of mine, who is not Catholic, recently told me that she has been attending Mass every Sunday. Surprised, I asked her why she decided to. Her response was one filled with much wisdom and humility. Without a regular commitment to a religion, she realized that she had begun to decide for herself what was right and wrong. Over time, however, she began to question whether her standards of what was right and wrong were in fact true. By justifying to herself all her actions based on her own guidelines, she realized that she had become her own god.
Being a deeply spiritual person, even if she has not subscribed completely to a particular religion, she believed that there is a set of universal truths and guiding principles of life. Whenever we live according to these universal truths and principles, we experience deep joy and peace. For example, whenever we are able to die to our own selfishness and choose another person's happiness over our own, while we may experience initial discomfort, we also experience a great sense of inner joy, peace, and meaning. We learn to care more for others and add value and meaning to their lives. Consequently, we love ourselves more, knowing that our hearts have grown bigger. Contrastingly, whenever we act selfishly and demand that others meet our needs, even when these needs are initially satisfied, we will not experience lasting joy and peace. The initial satisfaction quickly wears off and before we know it, we continue demanding for more.
My friend and I both strongly believe that there is a greater universe beyond the one we presently live in. Whenever we act based on the principles of that universe, and not the cut-throat economical principles of our world, we find that deeper peace, joy, meaning, and fulfillment that our hearts were made for.
Therefore, while today's first reading might initially appear to be a set of oppressive rules, they are merely God's ways of helping us to know these universal truths and principles. They are His loving ways of giving us the recipe to the deep joy, peace, meaning, and purpose that our hearts truly desire.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be open when anybody – regardless of who he/she may be – challenges my way of life and provides me with Your recipe to the deep meaning, fulfillment, peace, and joy that my heart desires. Help me to recognize moments when my heart is closed so that I will not fall into the trap of being my own god.
Thanksgiving: Thank You Holy Spirit for constantly whispering the secret recipe of life to me. Help me to let go of my pride and fears and be more open to Your guidance in my life.