Deacon Raymond’s Reflection
3rd Sunday of Lent, C
March 24, 2019
None of us can predict our future but all of us have to be prepared for it. In Luke’s Gospel for this Sunday (13:1-9), he speaks about sudden and sad tragedies that took place at the time of the Lord. Jesus uses these as a lesson for his disciples and for us. When people’s lives come to a sudden end, whether it is through disease, accident, violent or natural disaster, we all ask questions like: “Where is God? Doesn’t he know what is happening to his people?”
Yes He does. He’s with us at our difficult times. We definitely do not see Him physically, but when we look back, He’s definitely there. I was born pre-mature, less than three and half pounds, the size of a thermos. Through my mom’s unconditional, nonstop tender loving care for months, I survived. When I was young, I had heartburn sometimes. I treated it as normal. Finally, when it’s too frequent, I went for a full check-up. When the result came back, my family doctor referred me immediately to a cardiologist – the ECG showed irregular heart beat. The cardiologist did a cardiac catheterization test and found out that God created me differently, one in four millions. I have myocardial bridge in my heart: one of the coronary arteries tunnels through the myocardium rather than resting on it. Praise the Lord. there is less than 50% blockage and the condition is benign. The heartburn were the result from acid reflux due to work related stress. I survived. One more chance to bear fruit.
Then 26 years ago November, I had a small lump on my neck. Biopsy result showed I had nasopharyngeal cancer that had spread to the lymph node. Even the surgeon thought my survival rate was less than 50%. I had both radiation and chemo for seven weeks at Cross Cancer Institute. I survived the treatments for the first two weeks. But starting in the third week, the radiation burnt my throat and it was so painful even to drink but I refused to take any painkiller due to my ego and pride, thinking as an engineer, I could fix the problem. I couldn’t. I finally became dehydrated and the oncologist said I had two choices – either keep hydrated, drinking fluids and eating and continue the treatments or go back home. That night, I couldn’t sleep, went to the washroom, facing the bottle of Tylenol 3 and suddenly I heard a voice behind me saying: “Nobody gave me any painkiller when they crucified me.” He reminded me of his much painful suffering and told me to remove my pride. I went back to sleep peacefully. No, there was no miracle but I was given a super engineering wisdom to solve my problem. I charted out the lowest point of pain after I took the Tylenol 3, using a blender to liquify the meals my wife made for me and put them in the fridge. Warmed it up and drank them morning, lunch and dinner. With the tender loving care of my wife, kids, friends, doctors and prayers, and God’s guidance, I survived again. One more chance to bear fruit.
Life is full of adventures. A few years later, one fine day, I was home from work. Before I even had time to put down my briefcase, I saw furnitures turning upside down and the whole house was spinning, I was vomiting. My wife called 911. At emergency, I was told I had vertigo. I didn’t know what the doctor did, I calmed down and fell asleep. I dreamt that God promised to guide me through the dark valley and send the Holy Spirit for my speedy recovery. When I opened my eyes, you may not believe, I was full of glory. Gloria, the head nurse, wife of my colleague, was standing by my bedside! Timing was unbelievable. I believe that the Lord has a wonderful plan for me. I stayed in the hospital for the day, went home, and was back to work the following day, fully recovered. Again I survived. Again one more chance to bear fruit.
God wants to give us chances, just as the farmer gives the fig tree one more chance to bear fruit. My wife bought two amaryllis bulbs last year. We kept one and gave one to our daughter. Ours bloomed but hers had only leaves. Instead of throwing it away, my wife kept her bulb in the basement. Planted it after Christmas this year, watered and fertilized it. Now it is blooming with nine beautiful flowers. God gives us all a little more time to change our ways. For all the adventures that happened in my life, He always gives me one more chance to feel His presence, and show me the way: His unconditional love through my mom; His wisdom telling me to spend more time with Him to relax my heart stress; His healing touch to remove my ego and pride, to have deep appreciation of His suffering for us, and follow His way through my own pain with my cancer treatment; His glory fill me with faith in the Holy Spirit to guide me through the dark valley. Lent is the time for us to participate in carrying our cross in this world. Lent is a time for us to view our own personal tragedies as tests for our faith. Lent is a time for us to ask for strength and courage so that we might bear fruit. Lent is a time for us to face up to our own failings as we recognize that God can and will heal us and help us. It is not too late. The fig tree has been given another year. May God give us the courage to use His time and our time wisely. May we bear fruit.