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CFJ 7th Anniversary: Reflections from the President

2013

CFJ was founded in 2013 with the foundation of creating a community to unite English-speaking Catholic youths. We said, “Wake up, sleepy Catholics!” Sunday mass is not just a routine.
We all come for the wrong reasons, but, hey, come as you are, and we hope you stay for the right ones. It’s a platform to discover our faith together.

2014

So, what kind of community are we building?
We are building a Eucharist-centred community. Mass and the Eucharist have always been and will always be the centre of our ministries. We learn and appreciate the beauty of liturgy, and we also work with the different parishes of the Catholic Church.

2015

In our second year, we put more focus on Bible Fellowship, as it is important in nurturing our community to grow and to become mature Christians. We also introduced the culture of worship: to sing together in worship, what it means to worship God, and putting Him first, at the centre, and in control.
It does not matter how good the performance, ministry, and services are; it is our hearts and our characters that comprise genuine worship that are pleasing to God.

2016

Our third year was about encounter – encountering Christ, because true conversion comes from encountering God on a personal level. This was where our focus became building our personal relationship with God, discovering our personal calling, and finding God’s will in our lives.

2017

At Leaders’ Retreat, we decided to renew our commitment to follow Christ; #CFJ4TheWorld was born. We were called to expand on a God-given mission to continue to inspire youths all over the world in their personal relationship with God and in serving Him in our church and our daily lives.
This year was also about leaders regeneration. There was a change in leadership. How do we overcome burnouts? How do we balance career, family, and ministry?

2018

In year five, there was so much growth, so much providence, and so many miracles. God put the desire in our hearts and moved us to fulfil His good works. He always provides the right people, the right resource, the right opportunities at the right time.
We had our first mission trip and our first charity concert. Wherever God calls, He equips, and He provides.

2019

In year six, we decided to slow down, to strip all the unnecessary events, and go back to focus on the core: on building our own personal relationship with God.
We also made it a discipline to read the Bible daily and systematically, and we finished the New Testament together.

2020

Now, we are all in this last year together.
In times of quarantine and lockdowns, we learn not only to deepen our love to those closest to us but also to expand our reach to spread the message of joy and hope in Christ. We learn that love knows no borders. We are called to help our local communities and beyond with our Care Community Drive. We also learn how to maintain our community virtually as we continue to have our weekly Worship, Bible Fellowship, and Catechism classes online.
And, just like the Gospel for today, the greatest lesson remains to love: love for God as the foundation of our being and love for others as the foundation of all our serving.
We put Christ at the centre of all our work, and we do not limit ourselves to the boundaries of Jakarta but let God lead us to greater places – #CFJ4TheWorld – to bring his children back home to communion with Christ.

On behalf of CFJ leaders, thank you to all priests, ministers, congregation, and all CFJ family. Our deepest gratitude goes to you for all of your support throughout all these years.
May we continue to serve our Lord in love and in joy together. God bless, and hope to see you all soon.

By Jessica Winarko, CFJ President

Reflections during COVID-19

At present, we are living through a pandemic situation that is so very ‘foreign’, especially for us young millennials. Physical connectivity has stopped and has been replaced by social distancing. Many lives have fallen victim to the virus, and shortage of resources adds oil to the burning fire.

Countries have closed their borders to their neighbours. The worldwide economy has gone haywire, as it fluctuates wildly based on every piece of news or tweet. Unemployment rates are climbing at unprecedented accelerated rates, and governments are struggling to push incentives in order to control poverty and crime rates. We have been relying on our human strength to get us this far. Our advancements have greatly pushed our human capabilities and boundaries, but, still, the virus spread is rapid, deadly, and out of our control.

In this period of helplessness, have you wondered what is to be learned from all of this? People have been saying that Mother Nature is unleashing its full avenging force for all the destruction we have caused. They have presented conspiracy theories in which they play the blame game left and right. There are even world leaders discriminating and faulting each other. Where is God in all of this? Where is He in our trending conversations?

Never forget: We are so loved by God. Did you know that? Do you remember that? All that we have achieved in this world are truly His gifts of love. However, why is it so easy for us to forget His role in it?

We sit on our human prowess and materialistic success, holding on tightly to our prized worldly treasures – as if we have gained it all on our own. We feel invincible, even to the point of immortal. The angelic sin of Pride has really become humanity’s downfall.

Unlike Jesus with His steadfast and unconditional love, our love for Him is always wavering, easily distracted and highly conditional. We say that we have trust issues with people, but this is even more poignant in our relationship with Christ. Pride is the root of vanity and is the opposite of trust. We love ourselves too much and see ourselves as more capable than anything or anyone else, especially Him. Pride is the door to evil that brings death to our sensitivity, love, and our easily forgotten respect for Christ. Now, in this dire situation, have you realised how useless pride is?

Currently, we are witnessing humans being stripped down to our most vulnerable and driven to our breaking points. Have you ever faced a trial where you feel completely – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally – naked? There you are, laid bare for yourself to see what you and we are all made of: mere mortality. No matter who you are or how much you own, you are not immune to the impacts of this virus. Truly, there is not a single person who is not affected by COVID-19: victims, families, friends, people who are impacted economically or mentally, and many more. It pushes us to admit that we are limited, we are very much mortal, and we still need God in our lives.

 The thought of mortality really humbles me. I am reminded that, without God, we are nothing. In all the years of my life, I have never witnessed this level of worldwide madness. It is so easy now to slip into some form of anxiety, fear, paranoia, and even selfishness. So, how do we deal with all of this?

Let us go back to our basics, which is human creation.

“We are created by and for God…only in God will we find the truth and happiness we never stop searching for.” – CCC 27

It is time for us to relent to the truth, that there is only one solution that can give us peace in this chaotic moment: God. Do not be drowned by your fears; know that our God keeps His promises of love. Despite the horrible things that have been happening, take a look at the chain of blessings and kindness that is being passed from one man to another. How often do we get to see the whole world jointly channeling compassion? The spirit of almsgiving and love shines brightly during this dark hour, and this is where God’s works are found.   

It is no coincidence that this all began during the time of Lent, when we participate in Jesus’s journey to the cross. With everything that has been happening, I feel closer to Jesus, as if I am walking on the journey to Calvary with Him. Though I am sure that my journey is nothing compared to His, I am reminded that the cross I bear is also borne by Him, and every obstacle I face is also faced by Him. This is when I realised that there is no room for pride and that there is no other love more powerful than His. After all, Jesus is Love.

Therefore, we should know that what matters most in life is not our worldly desires, not even our worldly life, but our love for Christ and His eternal kingdom. It is time to remove all the hindrances that inhibit our total love for Him.

Strip me back of all my pride and possessions
‘Til all I want and all I need is Your presence
– Presence Power Glory by Citipointe Live

Heal us, Lord, from our pride, so that we can recover and come back home to You.

Let us all walk on this path together with faith and with His Spirit.

By Cynthia Wijaya, CFJ Head of CCD

Walking With Jesus: A Lesson From Cleopas

Third Sunday of Easter – Luke 24:13-35

Of all the disciples present in the story of Jesus’s resurrection, I am most envious of Cleopas. Yes, the women – Mary Magdalene and the other Mary – were the first to receive the news (Matthew 28:1-10). Yes, Jesus went fishing with the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-14). However, Cleopas and his traveling story best describes my relationship with Jesus: foolish and slow of heart to believe (Luke 24:25).

It is unclear who Cleopas is. Other than the account in the Gospel of Luke, Clopas, the variant name of Cleopas, is also mentioned in the story of the crucifixion of Jesus:

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.”  – John 19:25

Scholars have long debated whether Luke’s Cleopas and Clopas, whose wife’s name was Mary, were the same person. However, we can agree that Cleopas was one of the early followers of Jesus, and he, too, was aware that Jesus died on the cross.

As a follower of Jesus, it is understandable that Cleopas was disappointed. He, like many others, had put great hopes in Him. He was the Mighty One, the one who could save the entirety of humanity. Then, He was gone, and Cleopas was utterly confused; he did not know what to do. Cleopas was probably thinking, “Should I stay in Jerusalem? Should I go back to my previous life, pre-Jesus? The other men are going back to fishing anyway.”

And so, he, and his other companion, walked.

For those who know me, I like walking. I would walk 50 blocks going home from class. I could spend two hours on a Saturday leisurely walking along the riverside. Cleopas and the other disciple were walking to Emmaus, seven miles away from their origin, Jerusalem. If Cleopas, like me, liked to walk at a very leisurely pace, the journey would have taken approximately 2.5 hours. That was a whole 150 minutes that he got to spend with Jesus.

There was one tiny problem, though: he did not recognise Him. Instead of spending more meaningful time with Jesus, Cleopas was debating with his companion, possibly exploring many theories about Jesus’s whereabouts, and, most likely, doubting his faith, “Was I wrong to believe in Jesus all this time?” This all happened while Jesus was with them; those 150 minutes were essentially wasted.

Cleopas is a representation of all of us, or, at the very least, me, right now. In times of crisis, I often doubt my faith. I had great hopes for this year, but life is on pause indefinitely. Everything that I had imagined happening this year is, well, obviously not happening. I cannot plan for the week ahead, let alone a year. When God ordains things to happen contrary to our expectations, we are tempted to doubt His promise and, as a result, lose sight of Him, just like Cleopas.

How do we regain our sight? The gospel gives us a hint: the Sacrament of Eucharist. But, hey, masses are canceled too. Although not entirely perfect, the sacrament has been made available online, where we can easily have access. A good friend shared a compilation of online English mass URLs from every corner of the world with me. “It’s always mass o’clock somewhere,” he said. Making time for 20-30 minutes of daily mass in my unstructured day has helped me to reaffirm to myself that all of this is temporary, that we will be able to receive the body of Christ soon.

However, more importantly, we must understand what faith is and what it will bring us. The Book of Hebrews provides me with comfort during these trying times. According to the Book of Hebrews,

“Faith is the realisation of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

If Cleopas had had a little bit more faith in Jesus, he would have recognised the Man sooner. In a crisis of faith, we must endure and keep our hopes up; we must not abandon and, rather, keep practicing our faith. We must “persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). One useful advice is to “endure your trials as discipline” (Hebrews 12:7).

“At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11

Let us all pray that, through discipline, we will be able to gain those extra 150 minutes of Jesus.

By Christie Ruslim, CFJ Bible Fellowship Leader

Faith in the Time of Corona

Midweek Musings on the State of our Faith

Just like many of you, I have taken this Coronavirus containment thing (maybe a tad too) seriously. I’ve limited my physical interaction with other human beings to those I meet at home and people I have to share oxygen with on the route between my car to my office cubicle (as a pharma company providing medicine to tackle various diseases, we’re expected to stay operational with precautions until a total lockdown is enacted).

Since I’ve also decided to completely avoid crowded places such as gyms, malls, and restaurants, spending my nights at home has resulted in an overload of Netflix, Instagram Stories, and Bible-reading.

Now, it is the interface between the latter two while taking a break from the first that resulted in my making an interesting (in my mind, at least) observation: the state of our Christian life today amid the Coronavirus pandemic has, in a way, reverted back to life during the early Church (please feel free to correct me as Acts of the Apostles is one of the few New Testament books that I haven’t read in its entirety).

Here is why:

  1. The early Christians were very much an oppressed group. They were forced to practice their faith and worship in secret, out of fear of the Romans (and the Jews and the Greeks), who were persecuting them, discovering them and committing violence against them (sadly, this still happens to many of our fellow faithful living under more brutal regimes). As such, they did not have large corporate worships; instead, they prayed and worshipped in small groups in people’s houses.
  1. A consequence of this cell group structure was that not all groups had an apostle or deacon to lead them, which resulted in them worshipping and reading materials that had been distributed to them: the Gospel of Christ Jesus, as well as the letters of the apostles such as Paul (and probably others, as well).

What struck me as interesting is that, firstly, faith in this time of Corona is very similar to the conditions many Christians face today: Fear of an outbreak of Coronavirus infection takes the place of the fear of oppressors, preventing us from having corporate gatherings and resorting to receiving teachings or sermons online (a modern version of the letters of the apostle) in smaller groups.

Secondly, those who still seek God’s words and teachings in these trying times will be, as during the early Church, people who truly thirst for God’s presence in their life and would go to great lengths to receive it.

While the first saddens me somehow (especially as a Catholic for whom receiving the Body of Christ every Sunday is a foundational part of faith), the second encourages me, somehow. For too long, I have seen (young) people taking Sunday service for granted: people coming, not to listen to the pastor’s words, but, to mingle and “socialize” with friends. Listening to God’s words and teachings is just a part of a Sunday routine that needs to be done before they can go to Sunday lunch and coffee. I hope that, now, when access is somewhat “harder” and requires additional effort, many of us will come to appreciate God’s words and teachings more deeply and profoundly.

As a currently popular meme goes: our forerunners in the early Church were called to risk their lives to commune with God; we are simply asked to go online and pay full attention for one-plus hour.

May we grow closer to God in this challenging times.

By Dennis Widjaja, CFJ Vice President

Love in the Time of Corona

With all of the mass hysteria surrounding COVID-19, it can be hard for anyone to stay calm and sane. Whose advice do we heed? Are the public policies and local measures being put in place truly protecting our communities or simply encouraging widespread paranoia?

As Christians, this particular season of pandemic may, at times, make us feel confused, isolated, or even hopeless. I urge each of us, as followers of Christ, to take a deep breath and remember Jesus’s many acts of love in times of difficulty, in an effort to continue spreading radical Christian love and not give into fear.

Jesus spent his days and nights during his earthly ministries catering to the sick, the elderly, the widowed, and the outcasts of society. Jesus approached these lonely, abandoned individuals with no hesitation, instead sharing his time to heal and comfort them. Jesus did not harbour suspicion against these individuals and never once spoke a malicious word against these outcasts of society. Rather, he chose to personally extend help where possible, often shocking passive onlookers and passersby in the process.

With the advent of social media and its unmistakable omnipresence in our lives, the rampant blasting of news (real and fake, important and not-so-important) can quickly drown out any attempts at reason and drive whole hordes of people to prioritise their own survival, acting purely on animal instinct.

But what does the Bible teach on fear? John writes:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

Our love is grounded in the confession of Jesus as the Son of God and the example of God’s love for us. God is love. Christian life is consequently founded on the knowledge of God as love and on his continuing presence that relieves us from fear.

So, how do we combat fear and paranoia? By asking God to fill up our hearts with His love – the only balm of true peace that can soothe fearful souls. With God, we are strengthened and can continue our Christian work of proclaiming and living out God’s word through consistent, conscious acts of love. Love drives out fear. God drives out fear. Our choice to love instead of perpetuating hate and suspicion testifies that it is our almighty God, and not fear, who rules in our lives.

As Christians living through today’s bizarre reality of a pandemic with no clear end in sight, it is our calling to strive, each and every day, to continue showing up for our brothers and sisters in need – with a love that is sincere, authentic, and merciful.

The next time you are in the supermarket and see a glorious fresh batch of hand sanitisers, surgical masks, and vitamins, think of our brothers and sisters whose age and health conditions put them in a much more vulnerable state than you. Take for yourself sparingly, and share with others in more need. Have compassion and pray for our healthcare workers, who endanger themselves everyday on the frontlines of this battle. Offer those who are sick and in isolation words of comfort and encouragement. If you are unwell and might expose others around you to sickness, do an act of kindness and love by refraining from participating in large gatherings – even if it means missing Sunday mass – until you recover.

After all, the knowledge that Christ has saved us gives us confidence, even as we live, love, and suffer in this world. Yet, Christian love is not abstract but ​lived ​in the concrete manner of how we love one another. Let us take courage and proclaim God’s love in our communities, and arm ourselves against fear with Christly acts of love and kindness.

God bless you all.

By Mikaela Oen, CFJ Head of Fellowship