“Discouragement is part of life” said Rev. Fr Martin Arlando at the begining of his homily on the Mass for Men at the Church of Divine Mercy, Penang (CDM) held on the 18th June. He continued to say that discouragement and life go hand-in-hand. This often happens when we work very hard and see no progress. It eats a hole in our hearts. Fr Martin was relating this to the reading of the day from Jeremiah 20:1-13. Prophet Jeremiah must have felt this same way when he was punished by the priest Pashhur, who was also the chief officer in the house of the Lord. He was asked to speak the Word of the Lord and in return he had to endure physical, emotional and spiritual stress and hardship. Jeremiah was a faithful servant of God and yet he was disgraced for doing His work. A similar fate came upon William Carey, a British Baptist minister who later became known as “father of modern missions”. He sailed to India in 1793 and in his 40 years of missionary service managed to translate the Bible into six Indian dialects. At one stage, he saw a fire destroy 20 years of his work in a few hours. Instead of being discouraged he remarked that the ground must be laboured on again. In such times of trial, Fr Martin asks that we remember Psalm 40:10 Be still, and know that I am God. God is there when these things happen. It is then that we need to turn to the Lord for encouragement. We can look to Jeremiah for four ways to overcome this. First, we need to be honest with God and tell him how we feel about the situation. Jeremiah did this in the same chapter, verse 7: You seduced me, Yahweh, and I let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger. I am a laughing-stock all day long, they make fun of me. God wants us to talk to him and to tell him the truth. Our anger is a human emotion, so even though he already knows everything in your heart, go ahead and tell him. Don’t hold back anything when you pray to him. Let everything go so that you will be free for his grace to fill the space you left behind. You need not pretend to be what you are not. To bottle up the anger will only do you harm. Be honest and forthright as he knows the depths and emotions of your heart. Secondly, be obedient. Jeremiah 40:9 I would say to myself, ‘I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more,’but then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not do it. The call of God keeps all of us going. Fr said that he is not doing something else because he was called by God to this vocation. For 8 years he had been running away but finally the call of God came from inside him, a conviction within his innermost being, though at times painful, yet answering and listening to his voice became utmost important. Similarly, we must be obedient and listen to what God is saying to us with our innermost self during such times. Thirdly, we must be watchful knowing God is always with us. Jeremiah 40:11 But Yahweh is at my side like a mighty hero; my opponents will stumble, vanquished, confounded by their failure; everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs. Be aware that God will deal with our enemies in time and that he will never abandon us and is always with us. We should look to him for courage and perseverance to fight on despite Lastly, we must never forget to praise God. Jeremiah 40:13 Sing to Yahweh, for he has delivered the soul of one in need from the clutches of evil doers. At this point, Fr related a story where an old gentleman when asked his favourite bible phrase in troubled times mentioned It came to pass. This phrase, that is mentioned as many as 85 times in the bible, had helped him through the many bad moments in his life knowing God will get him through it all. Therefore, when we praise God despite the discouraging times in our lives we are accepting God’s will in all that come our way. In this way, the devil will surely fail as we are letting him know that God will be there to guide us through it. Fr then led the congregation into an imaginary prayer. He drew a picture of Jesus asking each of us to do an impossible task diligently everyday with no visible measure of success in achieving it. In our final desperation when we cry out to him at the futility of the task he gave us, Jesus points out to us that even though we have attained no success in completing the physical task given but instead have grown immensely in other human attributes to help us in our life’s journey. This is the strength God gives us, when we reach out to him, as we face the trials and tribulations of our lives.
A healing session was then held at the end of mass where as many as 150 men came forward to be prayed over by Fr Martin. A potbless gathering was held after mass to foster greater fellowship among the members of the community.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
25th June, 2015.