Sunday, 3 April 2011

We come from many places....

"We come from many places. All across the Land. Of many different Races. Together hand in hand. United we stand. Divided we fall. Ready to serve our nation's call...."

Suddenly the familiar army song came into mind on a saturday night. This is rather apt to describle the family here. Men from different backgrounds and races come together under a nation of God's people. These men come together to stay and live in a community. The big difference between the Kampung Punggol and the army is the freedom of choice. Once that choice is made, God provides the grace that it needed. What stays true for both Kampung Punggol and the Army is that unity is of paramount importance to both of them. This posting is to celebrate that grace given to us here at Kampung Punggol!

That sense of belonging is strengthened especially after we all attended the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) in the Catholic Spiritual Centre. We realise our own brokenness. We realise that despite of own brokenness, we are beloved children of a loving God, our heavenly Father. And that binds us. We are not perfect. None of us are. It is only because of that love from Him, that we can be able to love each another much much more. I am very thankful that the community have transformed over the years. The Community has reached to its current level of love and maturity due to the hardwork of those come before me. Praise God for them, the true lovers of God!!

We heard in the retreat, which most of us here at Kampung Punggol attended as shown in the topmost picture, that favortism can drive a wedge into a community or family. Favortism can cause envy, gossiping and especially resentment. That is why those anointed with authority or seniority within the community take great pains to ensure no favortism is practised. Brothers are very careful not to tease each other by referring as some other brother's favourite. Indeed, I tell you that if I have heard even a brother to say that I am a favourite of some other brother, it will have hurt me. There will be discord sown or even promote jealousy from such an insensitive teasing. Spiteful remarks like special treatment from a certain brother or even the blue-eye boy of the rector can possibly cause many to fall from grace. We are all unique and thus relate to each other differently. We know that we may feel closer to certain brothers, but we must love all.

It is for us who are strong to bear with the susceptibilities of the weaker ones, and not please ourselves. Each of us must consider his neighbour's good, so that we support one another.

Indeed, that is what Saint Paul said to the Romans in the first two verses of chapter 15. We must support each other and keep in mind of the inherent human weakness in each of us. We have to be careful not to cause each other to fall into the capital sin of envy and pride. We are proud to live under four impartial formator Fathers, who tried their best to keep favortism out of practice. Some of you may laugh at the notion of adults behaving like children fighting for attention. However, the green-eye monster has no preferences for any age group. We can often see that in church ministries, workplaces and especially in our own homes.

Let us each stop passing judgement, therefore, on one another and decide instead that none of us will place obstacles in any brother's way, or anything that can bring him down.

This verse 13 comes from the letter of St Paul to the Romans in chapter 14. I have learnt a lot from my older brothers. They have tried their best to place judgement aside and focused on love. Some of those anointed with responsibilites and authority more often or so encourage the rest of us with thanksgiving and affirmation. I am writing all these not to paint an absolute rosy picture of the community, but to share with you on the love I have experienced here. This community is growing in love and maturity each day. We have our moments of weakness, but we remind ourselves constantly of this:

Do not let resentment lead you into sin; the sunset must not find you still angry. Or else you will give the devil a foothold. Eph 4:26-27

We may get angry with each other due to misunderstandings, but we must not allow the devil to get a foothold to our soul because of that anger. Much humility is required to resolve such issues. Somone ask my older brother if we fight in the seminary. My brother and I have a good laugh. The answer is an obvious no, but we do have the silent treatment in place of that physical violence. It gives us time to think and reflect. Reconciliation will then takes its place in due time. Yes, community life is like that. The important thing I have learnt from my older brothers is never to give up on each other.

So then, let us be always seeking the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support each other. Rom 14:19

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