OYP Away in a Manger Challenge: JOY

by Frances Gan

This week’s theme of joy is a personal call for me to open my eyes to the wonder of God’s grace. I was invited to reach out to someone and write a message of encouragement to them. I took to the task without much difficulty as there were already a few friends I had been journeying with in exercising my pastoral role in community. Writing messages of encouragement and praying for them therefore came naturally to me. However, when it came to writing my reflection on this, I struggled.I felt obnoxious for seeing this exercise as just a mundane part of my life.

I’m sure there are many who struggle with writing a prayer or encouragement to their friends because it isn’t a common practice in their lives. But having journeyed in community for a while now, it had become commonplace and almost habitual to me. It dawned on me that similar to attending Sunday mass ritualistically, I’ve allowed myself to be blinded by putting myself on a pedestal and failing to notice the wonder of God’s divine grace at work. Pope Francis warned of the trap of spiritual arrogance leading to an adoration of one’s ego instead of to God (Sunday Angelus address on 23 October 2022). Yet here I am, displaying the obvious signs of arrogance.

As I pondered more on this during the recent Treasure#14 retreat, the Lord gave me insight that by being in a state of pride and arrogance, I was unable to experience wonder and awe. And by missing that, I also lost the joy that seeing Him brings. I confessed my pridefulness to God, and was invited by the Holy Spirit to pray for the desire to be in awe of Him once again. I told Him that I desired to no longer be blind to the divine work He is doing and to grant me humility.

Pope Francis exhorts that in true humility, “we become capable of bringing what we are to God, without pretence: the wounds, the sins and the miseries that weigh on our hearts, and to invoke His mercy so that He may heal us, restore us and raise us up.” Truly our God is a generous God, who does not delay in responding to those who seek Him. The very next day, He responded to my prayer through this verse of Scripture, “Jesus felt pity for them and touched their eyes, and at once their sight returned and they followed him” (Matthew 20:34).

Through prayer, God reminded me of the journey I have been on. One that is beyond anything I could have imagined. What was initially a lacklustre response from me was transformed into an invitation from Him to look beyond myself and open my eyes to how He has been working in my life. In my closing, I pray that we have the courage to look at ourselves and offer Jesus all that we see that may not be pleasing for He takes it all without condemnation. I pray that we have the eyes to see the wonder of God at work. Most of all, I pray that we have His joy.

Additional Resources:
Prayer of Padre Pio After Communion (download HERE)



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