"Sing to the Lord a new song..." Psalm 96:1
The Jews for most of their history have been exiled, persecuted, and have suffered greatly. But in spite of all the pressures of living in a foreign land, they have managed to maintain their language, culture, identity and spirit. When the temple was destroyed and Jerusalem pillaged, the focus of their worship transferred from the temple to their faith communities. That was when the Torah was rediscovered and read afresh.
I can say I also live in exile, in a foreign land. I am, after all, a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). And like the Jews, with their songs of lamentation, I complain about this strange land I live in. The world as I know it is changing too fast, and I can't say it's for the better! The people who are looked up to, change their husbands or wives like they change their cars. Politicians lie with audacity and have no compunction to steal from the hungry and the homeless. There are apps and sites that promote adultery, and people who are against abortion are insulted. Women jiggle and sing on TV in next to nothing! No, I do not feel like I belong!
Yet I can still sing new songs to the Lord! For His mercies are new every morning! And I know in every dark shadow, there is a light shining...even in the remotest region of the world! I just need to open my eyes to what God is doing. He keeps His promises, and I wait in faith, and journey with all the other pilgrims, to my promised land!
"What was from the beginning...we proclaim to you the eternal life...made visible to us..." 1 John 1:1-2
Today is the Feast Day of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist. He was a pillar of the Jerusalem Church after Jesus' death and lived to a very old age. St. John is purportedly the author of the Gospel of John, the two Epistles and the Book of Revelation. Jesus thought so highly of him that he assigned St. John to care for his mother.
"The eternal...made visible" - When Jesus was born, the eternal collided with the finite. The eternal was made visible to us. Saint John experienced talking with the eternal, walking with Him, eating with Him, asking questions. I guess the closest we can get to the "eternal" while we are here on earth, is if we are told that we are going to die in a few months. Then, we begin to think about the "eternal".
Nick Charles, was a well-known CNN sportscaster having worked with the cable news network since it began. He was divorced twice and lived an indulgent life until he met Jesus. That changed him and he became a Christian. In 2009, he was diagnosed with an incurable bladder cancer and was given 4-20 months to live. He began to make preparations. He recorded videos for his children, especially for his youngest 5-year old daughter so she would get greetings from him every birthday.
One night, when he was in so much pain, he prayed, "God, please take me. I'm ready." Then he said he saw Jesus come and sit by his bed, and Jesus said, "I'll take you, but not yet." That gave him strength to go on. Nick Charles said, "Faith is fastening to what is unseen."
We don't have to wait until we have a few months to live to "fasten to the unseen". We only have to read the Bible, read the Words written by men who walked with the ETERNAL MADE VISIBLE.
"The child grew and became strong..." Luke 2:40
Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. There were many pains that pierced Mary's heart as Simeon foretold in today's reading. "And you yourself a sword will pierce." No mother should undergo what Mary had to go through. But before Jesus went into public ministry, she had watched him grow, and become strong and bright. How her heart must have rejoiced in Him!
My son Josh is now 19, so big already! I look back and remember him as a baby, a toddler, going to school, and I can't imagine giving him up like Mary had to give Jesus up. After all, Jesus had His own mission, His own God-given purpose.
Like Jesus, our children have their own mission too.
We can only do so much. Give them just so much guidance and protection.
Eventually they have to find their own way.
There's a saying, God has no grandchildren.
Our children have to have first hand faith.
They have to discover God on their own, and have a relationship with God.
We can't hand it down to them.
Even if we're not perfect in any way, we can be a model to them,
and show that a life of faith is a life worth living.
It is also important that they know that far more than
good grades or being excellent in sports or computers or whatever,
the priority is their relationship with God.
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