Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wild Eagle Chase

Eagle in Today NewspaperI just saw in Tuesday's Today Newspaper, an article about how this guy found two white-bellied sea eagles in his house and went on a Wild Goose Chase, trying to find the correct government agency to help him get it out of his house. So he called the MND, which directed him to AVA, which told him to contact the NEA. He also tried calling the Zoo, which told him to call the Jurong Bird Park.

Why I find this article amusing, is because I went through the exact same thing last year. We found in the seminary a white-bellied sea eagle that had injured its wing. My first thought was to call the Jurong Bird Park, who told me to call the AVA, they in turn told me to call the NEA. who told me to call the birdpark, and was surprised when I told them, that I had called them first and was finally referred to them. In the end, one of the seminarians, brought the bird to one of our neighbours who brought it to a vet.

The reflection of this whole "wild eagle chase" is the question of whether we know who we can turn to in terms of an emergency. I remember one incident in the past, where a homeless young man came looking for help. We tried calling various place, but couldn't find a place that would be able to help him. We did get similar referrals to "try this other place, they might be able to help". I did learn of places for runaway girls, unwed mothers and abused wives though.

It would be a great help in ministering to those in need, if we know who and what are the resources that people can turn to for their various needs in life. And in the past few years on this journey, I have encountered many such people and organisations, that help the deaf, rehabilitate ex-cons and drug addicts, provide nursing care, journey with the dying and their families, help migrant workers who are cheated by their employers, provide free meals for construction workers, and even bereavement services.

Many of them do run awareness and publicity programs, to educate and promote the services to the public, but sadly, we normally only take notice when we have a problem, I know I'm guilty of it. So hopefully, I will now be more aware of how and what is being done to help those in need.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Everybody is looking for you

In today's gospel (Mk 1:29-39), one line struck me. Simon and the other disciples telling Jesus that Everybody was looking for him. And yet Jesus decides to "ignore" these people and move to another town. But only today did it strike me, that although the disciples were referring to the people of the town they were in, the "everybody" was really a reminder, that there were more people who were looking for Christ, waiting to hear him and experience him. Which is why Jesus said "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come."

It is a strong reminder for me, to be more open to the many people who are looking for God. Or actually more to the fact that everybody is looking for God. This adds on to something that Fr Simon said to me when we went for the school missions earlier this month. He said that in our ministry, it is not always about helping people to find God. Sometimes we need to help people that they are searching for God in their lives. As someone once said, we all have a God-shaped hole in us, and because we feel that emptiness, we try to fill that hole. And yet not many people realise that
we need to find God to fill that hole. In the ways of the world, we try to fill it with money, power, pleasure, relationships, etc... but all these will never fill up that God-shaped hole.

Similarly, as Christians, disciples, and especially as I continue my formation as a priest, I need to be aware that this mission that Christ has given us is not just to baptised, but to the world. Just as Christ got up, and moved to other towns, I also need to work on this area, of bringing Christ to those who do not know him. As it is, it took a real transformation in my life to even start talking about Christ, and sharing my faith with my fellow Catholic friends. What more to my non-Catholic friends, or even to strangers. From some of the shocked reactions I get when I meet up with old friends when I tell them that I am in the seminary training to be a priest, I am reminded of my past. How I had failed to be a witness in my way of life, even less, sharing the faith.

But God is slowly changing me, and I really give Him praise and thanks for all that He is doing in my life. Especially the challenges and opportunities that he shows me. One recent incident, was on the last day of the Illuminate - Leaders For Christ Convention 2007, in my workshop on evangelisation. I shared, that for us Christians, there are 3 "target audiences" when we evangelise. Evangelisation is about bringing the Good News to others. So we need to evangelise to

  1. To the Non-Christians - we need to bring the Good News to those who have not heard of Christ
  2. To the Christians who have fallen away - we need to bring them back to the Faith
  3. To the Active Christians - Active Christians too, need the sharing of God's love and action in our lives to help us to grow in our faith too.
And I shared an example of how a priest once shared, that he sometimes dreaded to go for wedding dinners, because he would be seated at a table with people he did not know. But he nows see each dinner, and each stranger that he meets as an opportunity to share about Christ. I shared this because I was going for a wedding dinner that night, and prayed that I too will be able to put my words into action.

Little that I know, God really answers my prayers. The groom was my Secondary school classmate, and so I was seated at a table with my classmates who I have not met for 13 years since graduation. Lo and behold, I found myself seated next to one guy who I didn't know was Catholic, and I was sharing a bit of my conversion with him, and then the guy on my right, turned out to also be Catholic, and later on, told me that he had stopped going to church, because of a fallout with his priest. And near the end of the dinner, the guy across me was sharing how he was turned-off by a teacher who forced him to learn chinese by reading the chinese bible. And yet he also shared how he had visited Fatima and the Infant Jesus of Prague, and how he felt a totally different feeling there. I ended my wedding dinner that night, in total awe of God's Spirit working.

Now the real challenge for me is to continue to try and grow in this area of evangelising, sharing my faith, and being open to the many opportunities that God is showing to me.