Monday, April 20, 2009
Food, glorious food.. ah.. one of my weaknesses in life.. good food, esp pasta. A friend of mine returned my cook book on pastas, and i whet my appetite reading the recipes (what a sad dolt i am).
I belong to a group of Charismatic Catholics called Shalom Working Youth Fellowship (SWYF). The word youth is rather out of sync because we have people from every age group from toddlers to grandmas. On Palm Eve, we had a seder meal, and on the 1st friday of Easter, we celebrated our 27th anniversary. Yes, food was bountiful. Some of us (not me) ate to the point of the miracle working power of stretching the limits of the rubber waist bands of our pants. But all in all, it was a good time to be had by all. We ate, not only of the food, but also of the fellowship of one another, and as we partook of the meal, we also partook of each others lives and became more of a family. (yes, i know, some of you are shaking your heads now and thinking that i am stretching it, but bear with me).
I remember in my reading of ancient cultures, eating together was a big deal. If people ate together at the same table, they were considered to be family or very, very close. Enemies would never eat at the same table, because you could not or were not supposed to fight with "family". Hence the reason why in the older movies, you will see an occasional scene where one will say "I will never eat at the same table with ...." I remember my younger days, with my mom trying to have the family together for dinner. While it seemed like an inconvenience at that time, but in retrospect, it brought the family together at the table, it gave us opportunity to come together and share about our day or issues. It reminded us of our place in the family, we ate at the same table.
In our modern world today, we eat our meals at fast food joints, in small separate tables, with strangers surrounding us. I wonder if we have lost our sense of being family, being together...
John 21:12 is one of my favorite verses. This passage is always part of the gospel reading for the 1st friday of easter. It speaks of something close to my heart : food. Jn 21:12 says "and Jesus says : come and have breakfast..." What a great God we have : the verses before this says that Jesus cooked and prepared the meal and when his disciples came, he called them for breakfast, he called them for a meal... he called them to be family again. This was a time when the disciples was not sure if it was Jesus (because Jesus showed himself to them twice before this) but John (the beloved) pointed it out to Peter, but Peter was still hesitant.
I try to put myself in this situation with conditions which i am comfortable with. Let me rephrase the passage as follows : "And so Andre came back from a hard day at work, did nothing productive in the morning but after spending some time in prayer during lunch, God inspired him and the afternoon work brought enough attention to him to be considered for a promotion. When he got home, he was surprised to see a large pan pizza with extra cheese, together with a large tray of piping hot lasagna, together with his favorite beverage, a bottle of grape soda.. and Jesus said, "come and eat". I dig in, eventhough I am a pasta freak, i have a sense of hesitancy. I know that I am not worthy and yet, someone loved me enough to look after my physical needs, when it seemed like i might have nothing to eat. He who gave everything, his body to be tortured and crucified and his soul to bear the burden of our sins, is now feeding me. He is telling me that while life is uncertain and i might have doubts about his resurrection, eventhough he has proven himself time and again, Jesus still finds it fitting to call me to be part of his family, he still finds the time to cook for me and he still finds room in his heart to care for me.
Are you facing doubts in your life? Are you in a situation where you have worked your butt off and are expecting something to happen but you find yourself still waiting? Have you prayed and prayed and prayed and it seems like nothing is happening? Maybe we should sit back for a while, and open our ears and hearts. And as we do, we might hear John tell us "That is Jesus, whom you pray to.. he is the one who provided for you.. he is the one who took care of you when you were sick, or troubled... he is the one who died for you.. can't you recognize him?" and i pray that as we hear those words that recall what God has done in our life, we will be able to see God waiting for us with a meal, to satisfy our heart, to calm our fears, reminding us that we are his family... to sit at his table, to share our lives, to share our troubles, to satisfy our souls and that we will always have a place in his table. What a great God we serve.
The next time we meet, we should have a meal together.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
So this is my first blog... putting thoughts down in black and white for all to see (well, those who are interested anyways). What do I want to talk about? well, I guess the first topic should be about my faith.
I am a Catholic Christian. I love my faith, though I have difficulties to deal with, my faith helps me deal with then, inspite of my weaknesses. But there is a principle which I hold, and try to live by - it is based on Peter walking on water..
So, one day, Jesus and gang were on one side of the lake and Jesus decides to stay on and tells his followers to go ahead of him in a boat. The followers do as they are told, leaving Jesus at the shore. Sometime during their cruise on the lake to the other side, a storm comes up, the skies fill with looming clouds and the waves are tossing them all over the place. Of course their humanity takes control and fear is the name of the game. In the midst of all this, they see a "ghost" walking on water.. it looks like Jesus.. but they are not sure. Peter decides to try to overcome his fear and starts talking to the water-walking messiah. "Who are you?" peter asks.. " I am the Lord", Jesus replies. And as with any normal person of his day and ours, he continues with the clarifying question to test the Lord. "If you are Jesus, tell me to come to you and make me walk on water." (another way to say it is "If you are really God, then show me a miracle that I might believe you, cause I don't really trust that you are really who you say you are" (a lot of us think it but don't say it for fear of looking like a person of little faith... come to think of it, I do say this a lot, oh help me Jesus)) and Jesus says, "Come"
Then Peter does something which I am not sure if I could have done. He actually gets up, takes a deep breath and sticks out his leg over the side of the boat. I often thought if I had a chance to be one of the people on the boat, a ragtag collection of personalities thrown together by something beyond human coercion, who would I be?.... Honestly, I think I would probably be the boatman.. I don't think I would have had the faith to leave everything behind to be one of the disciples.. and here I am, the boatman, watching this scene, the short, brash, impetuous, "ah beng" kinda of leader of the group is talking to a "ghost" walking on water. I would be scared poopless at this point. (I hope and pray that my faith would graduate to one of the least of the apostles one day).
And so Peter sticks out his leg and steps down on the water and lo and behold, the water is seemingly solid. His heavy frame does not sink. He turns back and gives an uneasy reassuring smile to the rest. Those on the boat return the gesture with worried smiles thinking "Die la like that". Peter puts his other leg down. His senses defy him, he should be snorkeling by now, feeding the fishes from the dinner roll crumbs off his beard but instead, he is actually walking on water. He remembers Jesus, he looks up and sees Jesus waiting (and we do that a lot. We ask God to help us; he shows us that all we have to do is just follow what he says; we are doubtful a bit but we take a small step. When we experience a small miracle, we are so happy, we forget about Jesus and make him wait for us... well, I do that a lot anyways).
So the waves are tossing and turning and Jesus gets blocked by these waves once in a while, but He is still there. Peter sees the rage and strength of the waves and forgets his water walking miracle (which he is still on) and instead of focusing on Jesus, he lets the fear of "what if's" overcome him. "What if the roaring waves throw me off? What if I am not strong enough to face the waves? What if I lose my job or jeopardize my career by standing up for truth? What if my circumstances overcome me because I stuck my neck out too far and recklessly to do what is right? .. What if, what if.. " and so, the "what if" birthed fear and Peter took his eyes away from Jesus and he began to sink. Now, he did not just go "plop" into the water.. apparently, he sank slowly like an elevator was taking him down to the Long John Silver Seafood restaurant in the foodcourt in the basement. and he began to cry out. At his point, Jesus must be shaking his head and thinking "Oh myself (instead of saying "Oh my God"), He was walking on water.. all he had to do was walk to me and now, I have to go and rescue him.. I think I am getting a headache" So, Jesus comes, reaches out his hand and rescues Peter, the fisherman who was afraid of water.
So what is the principle? It is essentially this : As Christians, we do not deny the existence of the waves and circumstances around us. We do not deny that there are a lot of things in our lives that roars and tries to distract us in different directions and instill fear in us. But what we do deny is their right to rule our lives. Jesus is the only one who rules our lives. Of course this is easier said than done, but understanding this in our minds makes it easier to live by this principle rather than not knowing at all.
So, if you are reading this, and there is something bugging you and causing you fear, remember the times that God has supported you and gave you small miracles. Know that He has taken care of you before and He will always take care of you. It might feel lousy right now, but help is on the way. Our expectation of when He should step in will probably be different than what He has in mind, but keep your eyes on Him, keep your eyes on the Saviour who walks on water, who is able to cause us to walk above our troubles and you might surprised to find yourself walking on water.