August 2, 2020 – 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“In our moments of failure and discouragement, let us place our hope in the Lord Who remained ever faithful to the Will of God and had to suffer on the Cross by virtue of His obedience and fidelity!”

(Based on Is 55: 1-3, Rom 8:35-39 and Mt 14:13-21 – 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

A brave missionary – known to have pioneered many missions – was sharing his experiences with a group of novices (group of brothers, before taking the evangelical vows, in a religious order/congregation)

In his interaction with the young and aspiring novices, he recounted the many moments of struggles and “apparent failures” that he had to face in the missions.

Yet with much joy in his heart and a special sparkle in the eyes, he exhorted: “My dear novices… the words of one of the beautiful hymns that we often sing, as part of our Night Prayer (Compline – Divine Office) gave me a lot of strength, at the end of every day.

‘Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.’”

The great missionary did encounter moments of failures in life…
… but what kept him going, was the Hope and Conviction to see the Hand of the Lord, leading and Guiding Him!

Yes, failure is something which we surely encounter very often in our lives!

We fail to stand up to ours and others’ expectations in our personal lives…
We fail to answer to the needs and demands of our family or community lives…
We fail to respond to the challenges and duties of our responsibilities in our societal lives…

Failure creates clouds of hopelessness.

Failure develops into pangs of anxieties!

But every Failure, can also be the Gateway to Venture into a Fresh Framework of Opportunities…

The background of today’s Gospel is a very disturbing one: the beheading of John the Baptist!

The Voice which heralded the Coming of the Saviour…
The Voice which had provided hope…
… had been brutally silenced!

Jesus, on hearing this news, withdrew to a lonely place.

The inhuman murder…

Of His Cousin
Of His companion in the Works of the Kingdom…
… was a Moment of Great Pain to the Lord
… perhaps, even a Great Setback to Him!

Disappointment was apparently looming large…

The Mission hereafter was not going to be easy…

Failure was knocking at the doors…

But every Failure, can also be the Gateway to Venture into a Fresh Framework of Opportunities…

Though filled with pain and sorrow and grief…
… Jesus continues His ministry of preaching the Kingdom of God.

And thus we see our Blessed Lord multiplying the loaves and feeding the crowds (Mt 14: 15-21)

The Evil King Herod, had feasted on the vices of self-pleasure and debauchery

The Good King Jesus, would make a feast on the virtues of compassion and self-giving!

The Evil King Herod spread a party of lewdness, trudging on the death of an innocent man

The Good King Jesus would host a party of God’s Mercy and Tenderness, inviting to eternal life!

Jesus failed to get bogged down by failures…

He failed to be immersed in a sea of let-downs and disappointments.

He instead, made His Compassionate and God-trusting Heart to shine through the clouds of darkness!

Jesus also taught His Disciples to not get disappointed or disheartened by “apparent” signs of failures or lack or success.

When Jesus asked His disciples to provide food for the hungry crowd, the disciples said:
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here” (Mt 14:17)

The disciples were expressing their possibility of ‘facing a failure’…
… “We have no resources, Lord!”
… “All what we have is just not good enough to be successful!”

But the Lord – Who had refused to be bogged down by failure – now teaches the Disciples to also imitate Him…

Not being disappointed with possibilities of failures…
… instead, entrusting whatever we are and however we are, to the Bountiful Care of the Father

Not getting discouraged by situations of lack of success…
… instead, giving praise to the Lord at all times, knowing that He works wonders and miracles – in His Time, In His Way!

The same resources which signified nothingness – five loaves and two fish:
… were now transformed by the Lord as food for thousands!
… were now symbols of God’s power and providence!

You and I…
… Are we facing failures at this moment?
… Is our spiritual life going downhill?
… Are we lost in the society- facing rejections and encountering disappointments in all areas of our life?

Do we feel that FAILURE become part and parcel of our existence?

Fear not…!

Give up not hope…!

Let us hold on to the Lord…
… the same Lord who was “face-to-face with failure” after the brutal murder of His Cousin
… the same Lord who worked a miracle for his disciples who were “face-to-face with failure” in ministry

Through Prophet Isaiah, the Lord reminds us: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?

Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” (Is 55:2-3)

Our modern world, makes it easy, for us, to “feel” that we are a failure!

But Jesus shows that there can be a HIGHER way of understanding “Success”

Success is…
… being faithful, to do God’s works: however little they be – in the time & place, God wishes!

Success is…
… persevering, to hold on to God’s Will: however painful they be – in the manner, God wishes!

Success is…
… resolute to being truthful to God’s Ways: however hard they be – in the way, God wishes!

Am I today being surrounded by a hazy atmosphere of failures and disappointments?

Look up to the Lord for inspiration…
… The Lord Who remained ever faithful to the Will of God and the Lord Who had to suffer on the Cross by virtue of His obedience and fidelity!

He shows what is true success

He shows what is real achievement

Yes, Faithfulness is more vital than success.

Authenticity is more needed than victory

Let us be convinced, just as St Paul tells us: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
… For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:35, 38-39)

Let’s pray: “Lead kindly light…”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Our Gracious God and our great enemy are in conflict.

For by means of these trials, God would bring us to great purity of heart
… to an entire renunciation of self-interest in all concerning His Service
… and a perfect casting aside of self-seeking
But the Evil One seeks to use our troubles to our discouragement
… so as to turn us back to sensual pleasures

… and to make us a weariness to ourselves and others, in order to injure true devotion.

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