Monday, August 12, 2013

Inspired to be inspirational

It is always nice to be inspired in life.  Some companies seize on this desire to be inspired and have even made a nice business out of this by printing inspirational posters so that people reading them can become motivated in life.  You know what I am talking about – they usually feature a very well taken photograph, set within a very thick black border as a background, with a pithy, wise sentence that could read something like ‘Courage – It comes from a reserve of mind more powerful than outside circumstances’.  Reading something like that when your own ‘reserves’ are down can give one a temporary boost of morale when one is facing one's own private little battles.  Indeed, it is always nice to be inspired at these times.

Here tucked away and ensconced in the safety and seclusion of the hospital transplant ward, I have been able from time to time communicate with some friends and former parishioners just to give them some update on my slow state of recovery (which by the way, seems to have turned several positive corners in terms of improvements in blood counts and healing experienced in different parts of the body).  Invariably I have been given words of encouragement and love and support from a huge and unseen community of people who are praying for me.  One of the things that I have heard which puzzled me somewhat was how I have been an inspiration for many of them in their own lives just by my sharing of my pains and struggles to find meaning in suffering and using this as a means of our incessant search for holiness in life.  While I will openly admit that I have always believed (and have written about) in the need for each of us to search for and to attain holiness in life, I have never quite dared to set myself up as anything close to being an inspiration, the least of all when I seem to be at my weakest and least usable physically.  But perhaps this is where what St Paul said really rings true in 2 Cor. 12:10 – where Paul sees the two-fold pattern in the weakness/strength and death/resurrection dialectic which marks the life of an apostle of Christ.  Indeed, if this is so, then there must be something truly (but also silently) powerful in powerlessness when facing something as a debilitating suffering in life.  Right now, I may arguably be the most unusable priest in the diocese of Singapore, with no contact possible between any parishioner and myself, but yet, there seems to be something beyond me and my physicality that can even form and perhaps audaciously even ‘teach’ others.   Strangely, even if I do attain my STL (Licentiate in Sacred Theology) I may not be able to form and teach on such a scale as this.  And this is not at all something of my doing – the ultimate power of God and his mercy is at the helm of this ‘teaching’.  I am greatly humbled when I am given to look at things this way.

It is was with this in mind that I was given to read Fr Ronald Rolheiser’s weekly internet column last week where he wrote so eloquently of our need to give to the poor and become altruistic in life.  It comes from our very being where we participate in God’s own nature, whose very own giving away of himself in love and in death becomes our motivation to also give our wealth away.  Not because we are good, but more importantly because God is good. 

While it is nice to be inspired in life, what is more important is ultimately to be an inspiration for life and to life.  Only when we bear this in mind constantly, or perhaps have it reminded to us from time to time by some inspirational poster, or speaker, or yes, even a person in transplant recovery far from human contact, can we make sense of making the most of our lives by giving our deaths away.  

It is simply because God did this, so must we.


  1. Good morning Father Luke. It is a joy to see you writing again. You may not feel you're inspirational but I am sure you've touched many and inspired them in their own difficult journeys. God bless you always. May you continue to be His instrument reaching out to His flock. Have a blessed week. God loves you.

  2. Dear Fr. Luke,

    I'm so glad to see that you're writing again. That can only mean that you're getting better.

    That remark that you might be, "the most unusable priest in the diocese of Singapore" had me grinning from ear to ear. Unusable? Unusable to who? Who is to say that you are not being of tremendous help to others in your present state? The Lord hears the cry of the poor, and surely - you are in the 'poorest' state now that you've ever been.

    Our prayers continue for you. Take care and God bless,

  3. Hullo frLuke, visualizing the strength in you and the joy you radiate from the "seclusion of the hospital transplant ward". God indeed works in mysterious ways and you are one of His work :)


  4. Dear Fr Luke,

    Believe you me, your words are quite inspirational! Your sharing of ultimately, unwavering faith in the face of adversity has given me many opportunities for self reflection and a weekly renewed wonder in God and the works He wroughts.

    I very much look forward to the day when you can stand in the pulpit and deliver a typical 'Fr Luke' well thought through, meaningful and engaging sermon again.


  5. Dear Fr Luke,

    Am pleased to inform you that the Bone Marrow Donor Programme(BMDP) staff will be at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 24 Highland Rd, this weekend(17 & 18 August), to recruit volunteer bone marrow donors under the "Match For Life" initiative. I hope this piece of news will cheer you up a little in your hospital transplant ward.

    Fr Luke, please pray that many people who have been inspired by you, will sign up as potential bone marrow donors in response to your passionate appeal in your blog some months back. I understand that more than 600 donors from RI signed up when you gave the students your inspiring testimony. Through the grace of God, I'm sure your words of encouragement can do wonders for this upcoming BMDP Outreach @ IHM, even though you are now at your "weakest & least usable physically".

    It is indeed our privilege when we can "participate in God's own nature" and "make the most of our lives" through our altruistic & selfless giving!

    Looking forward to seeing you at the pulpit very soon!

    God bless,

  6. Good morning, Fr. Luke.
    Am so pleased to be able to read your blog again! Inspirational & uplifting words are very much needed by all of us.
    Wishing you speedy recovery & God Bless!


  7. Fr Anthony de Mello with his usual wry humour commented on ‘holiness’....thus;

    The guru liked to remind his students of the well-known principle that: holiness like beauty is only genuine when its possessor is unaware of it. He liked to quote the following verse:
    “The rose blooms because it blooms;
    It does not ask why.
    It does not deck itself out
    Just to attract my gaze.”
    Then there is that saying: “A saint remains a saint, until he knows he is one.”

    Likewise, if one conspires and contrives to inspire and be inspiring, one may probably expire from one’s efforts! For we were taught from young, that it is God only who can sanctify us and all that we need to do is to have the fidelity to cooperate – so as to become channels of His grace or divine influence.

    So it is when you said that you were “unusable” that I remembered what Fr Rolheiser said about the passive exercise of fidelity to the Father’s will (as was so clearly portrayed by Jesus at Gethsemane and at the Cross) .......where it consists in the loving acceptance of all that God sends us at each moment, and .....our such moments are made fruitful by our fulfilment of the will of God. He gives us such moments so that we have the opportunity to transform every such moment of our life into ( what he termed) a ‘sacramental moment’.

    Inadvertently, our struggles “in our incessant search for holiness in life,” may end up being an inspiration to and for others...........because in our sharings (like your posts) we are naming and accepting of our wounds and vulnerabilities - that make us more human and humane......and it draws “like-people” together. The passive courage to lovingly live out an ignominious existence of physical discomfort or pain; or of being left to wait out one’s exile in a hospital ward before health returns – all these en-nobles the “un-usables” among us. It is these “poor” – (of health... mind, body and spirit), these “powerless” -who even then, embrace life as ‘gift’ – that really reveals the dignity of Man fully alive! And that according to St Irenaeus is the Glory of God!

    So - how not to attract or inspire?

    God bless you, Fr.


  8. Good Morning Father Luke,

    It's great to see you writing again and YES! you have inspired me.
    Thank you, Father.

    May God's blessing be always with you. Wishing you a speedy

  9. As you have always ended your homily - God Loves You.