Call for contributors for Holy Week

Dear followers and subscribers of Oxygen,

We give thanks to God for your steadfast following of Oxygen.

As we enter into the Paschal Mystery of the Church, we invite our readers who want to help contribute a reflection to come forward.

The following readings are available for reflection:

1. Holy Thursday – Chrism Mass

2. Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper

3. Good Friday

4. Easter Vigil

1st Reading + Responsorial Psalm

2nd Reading + Responsorial Psalm

3rd Reading + Responsorial Psalm

4th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

5th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

6th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

Epistle + Responsorial Psalm

Gospel

This is a good time for you to share with our readers the joys you have had in reading Oxygen. Do drop an email to descksoon@yahoo.com who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.

God bless

Oxygen Core Team

28 March, Tuesday – Well Provided for

28 March 2017

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Ezekiel 47:1-9,12

The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. The man went to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across again; the water reached my waist. He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross.

He then said, ‘Do you see, son of man?’ He took me further, then brought me back to the bank of the river. When I got back, there were many trees on each bank of the river. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’

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John 5:1-3,5-16

There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people – blind, lame, paralysed – waiting for the water to move; One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in this condition for a long time, he said, ‘Do you want to be well again?’ ‘Sir,’ replied the sick man ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets there before me.’ Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk.’ The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and walked away.

Now that day happened to be the sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.’ He replied, ‘But the man who cured me told me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ They asked, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Pick up your mat and walk”?’ The man had no idea who it was, since Jesus had disappeared into the crowd that filled the place. After a while Jesus met him in the Temple and said, ‘Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. It was because he did things like this on the sabbath that the Jews began to persecute Jesus.

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All living creatures teeming in it will live

Have you ever come across a social experiment where an individual deliberately dropped a hundred dollar bill and recorded the action of the person behind, after picking up the bill? A large majority of them, knowing that they had picked up a hundred dollar bill quickly walked or ran towards the direction away from the one who dropped it. They must have thought that they had gotten lucky and hid it quickly in their pockets. However, when the same experiment was done in front of a homeless person, they captured the honesty of the homeless individual returning the bill to the actor.

How much is considered enough for us? Has our Lord not provided us what we deserved, with all the good provisions around us to make us more charitable than being dishonest? In today’s reading, the Lord sets up our environment so that we, being the blessed ones of different talents, are able to better ourselves and make the world around us a better place. Where do you draw the line of being lucky to have picked up a note, or have you been dishonest because it is just ‘finders’ keepers’? Anyone who is honest would agree that if you have found something and are able to return it to the rightful owner, then make the effort to do so. Our behaviours and values have certainly gone askew despite the prestigious education received, despite already having a healthy bank balance. Yet, we can’t return the money found to its rightful owner due to greed and temptation. As for a homeless person who has no proper shelter, he perhaps has nothing material to hold on to, but continues to live a life filled with good values and honesty.

Most of us have been provided with a good education, blessed with a family whom we can rely on, have a job to make a decent living for ourselves. These are the little miracles in life that carry us through such that we in turn be generous to others. Do not be guided by greed, for the Lord has given us the grace to stand up and walk, in the way of the Lord, not the way of the evil and its temptations.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Dear Lord, let us recognise the miracles that continue to happen to us, not to take our provisions for granted, always looking out to take and not give.

Thanksgiving: We wake up this morning to give thanks for a life worth living, so that someone else’s life be made better because of me.

25 March, Saturday – “God is with us”

25 Mar – Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

The annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Gabriel, the archangel, that she was to be the Mother of God (Luke 1), the Word being made flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The feast probably originated about the time of the Council of Ephesus (c. 431), and is first mentioned in the Sacramentary of Pope Gelasius (d. 496).

The Annunciation has been a key topic in Christian art in general, as well as in Roman Catholic Marian art, particularly during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is represented in art by many masters, among them Fra Angelico, Hubert Van Eyck, Ghirlandajo, Holbein the Elder, Lippi, Pinturicchio, and Del Sarto.

This feast is celebrated on Mar 25, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Jesus (Christmas) on Dec 25.

The Annunciation is also mentioned twice in the Quran, the holy book for the Muslims.

  • Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia

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Isaiah 7:10-14,8:10

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’
Then he said:
Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means ‘God is with us.’
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Hebrews 10:4-10
Bulls’ blood and goats’ blood are useless for taking away sins, and this is what Christ said, on coming into the world:
You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation,
prepared a body for me.
You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin;
then I said,
just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book,
‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.’
Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.
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Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’
Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
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Every day at 12 noon, my alarm goes off. And as long as I am not urgently occupied I say the Angelus (or my wife reminds me to). Traditionally, it was prayed three times a day, accompanied by church bells. Even the Holy Father makes an event of praying the Angelus when he does it on Sundays at noon and gives a short address. The Church has also attached a partial indulgence to praying the Angelus.

Why does this prayer get so much air time? I think, precisely because it represents the single most significant event in the history of the world. The Annunciation. Mary said ‘Yes’ and the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity was immediately present in her womb and, until now, is present in the world. Literally, God is with us. So every day, millions of people take a bit of time to ponder this great mystery. The one sovereign God loves us so much that he became exactly like one of us, holding on to none of His splendour and grandeur.

What does this mean to us? Do we live like God is among us? Or is He only present in the tabernacle or worse, only 2000 years ago? I have come to realise that once we make ourselves aware of God’s true presence within and around us all the time, then we truly live as His children; like recently, when I visited an old workplace of mine and met with old colleagues, (post reversion to the faith) I could see people for the people they are and not what they can do, how they work or what position they hold. Being more aware of God’s presence makes us less judgmental and more compassionate. It makes us model Mary, just a little bit.

“I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me,” said Mary. And from that moment, the Lord was with her. Let us, in recitation of the Angelus daily, become handmaids too, and do all the Lord asks of us and always be aware that he is truly with us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daryl De Payva)

Prayer: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for your Mother; Our Mother, for her yes, for her intercession and for her leading us to you.

24 March, Friday – To listen is to love

24 March 2017

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Hosea 14:2-10
The Lord says this:
Israel, come back to the Lord your God;
your iniquity was the cause of your downfall.
Provide yourself with words
and come back to the Lord.
Say to him, ‘Take all iniquity away
so that we may have happiness again
and offer you our words of praise.
Assyria cannot save us,
we will not ride horses any more,
or say, “Our God!” to what our own hands have made,
for you are the one in whom orphans find compassion.’
– I will heal their disloyalty,
I will love them with all my heart,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will fall like dew on Israel.
He shall bloom like the lily,
and thrust out roots like the poplar,
his shoots will spread far;
he will have the beauty of the olive
and the fragrance of Lebanon.
They will come back to live in my shade;
they will grow corn that flourishes,
they will cultivate vines
as renowned as the wine of Helbon.
What has Ephraim to do with idols any more
when it is I who hear his prayer and care for him?
I am like a cypress ever green,
all your fruitfulness comes from me.
Let the wise man understand these words.
Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning.
For the ways of the Lord are straight,
and virtuous men walk in them,
but sinners stumble.
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Mark 12:28-34
One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.
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I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them with all my heart… it is I who hear his prayer and care for him.

There seems to be a common thread in the readings all week – that of listening to God. It got me wondering why we are constantly being reminded to listen, and why this call is so relevant even today.

What are we listening out for?

When we are told to listen or pay attention, does our reflex guide us into a defensive stance, anticipating a scolding or rebuke? This can happen in many relationships (between couples, parent-child, work) where familiarity has sadly bred contempt. Some may even experience this reaction towards the commands of God. Perhaps this is set up by previous experiences of hurt and disappointment, maybe we have grown up hearing more often the wrathful stories of a punishing God, that it is hard to imagine hearing anything sweet and soothing when told to pay attention and listen.

In the first reading of Hosea today, God is speaking tenderly to his people who have turned from him in disloyalty. We get a glimpse of our image of God when we read these words and recognize our interior reactions. Does it feel hard to visualize a loving God? Do you read with some distance and a little disbelief? Are you moved and comforted deeply by the assurances of God who says: I will love you with all my heart? To truly listen without judgment and defense, is to genuinely allow our hearts to connect with the one who speaks.

What are you listening out for when God is trying to speak His love to you? Will you let Him have the space and time to tell you how much He cares for you?

To listen is to heal

Sometimes we don’t really listen. We just hear what we think is being spoken. So if a wife tells her husband, “I wish you wouldn’t spend so much time watching TV/on your mobile phone/out with friends,” he may hear “she’s nitpicking on me and telling me how to spend my precious leisure time,” instead of “I wish you would spend more time connecting with me.”

When we read God’s words in scripture: Repent and turn away from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations (Eze 14:6, 1 Jn 5:12, etc), we may think we hear His booming and fearsome voice commanding us to give up everything and turn to Him. The responsibility to listen intentionally and openly lies with the listener. Sometimes it is easier to hear the literal words when it coincides with our presumptions about someone or the nature of the relationship. But to listen humbly is to heal relationships, and to heal the false impressions we might have of the other.

Do I listen carefully to God’s merciful and deep love for me that is layered beneath all of His commandments and laws? Do I give God the space to be Himself in our relationship, instead of imposing my own ideas and defenses upon His words?

Only when we listen, can we speak wisely.

In yesterday’s gospel reading (Lk 11:14-23), we witnessed the crowds testing and challenging Jesus’ authority and words. They asked questions to cast doubt, with no intention of listening to the Living Word. However, the scribe today listened intently to Jesus’ answer that the greatest commandment to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength… and to love your neighbour as yourself.’ He was therefore able to respond wisely that to follow this commandment, was ‘far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ The scribe understood the deeper meaning of the law of love, which underpinned all the Laws. It is only when we listen, that we can speak wisely and with love.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me the patience to listen with humility and love. Grant me the restraint to withhold judgment and self-defenses.

Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the gift of those who have spent time truly listening to me and getting to know me for who I am.


23 March, Thursday – You become what you pay attention to

23 Mar – Memorial for St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, bishop

St. Turibius (1538-1606) was born a noble and became a lawyer, and then a professor of law at Salamanca. He was ordained in 1578, and was a judge of the Court of the Inquisition at Granada. He was later appointed Archbishop of Lima, Peru on May 15, 1579. He founded the first seminary in the Western hemisphere, and fought for the rights of the natives against the Spanish masters. He also organized councils and synods in the New World.

Prayer to St. Turibius

Lord, through the apostolic work of St. Turibius and his unwavering love of truth, you helped your Church to grow. May your chosen people continue to grow in faith and holiness. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Jeremiah 7:23-28

These were my orders: Listen to my voice, then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Follow right to the end the way that I mark out for you, and you will prosper. But they did not listen, they did not pay attention; they followed the dictates of their own evil hearts, refused to face me, and turned their backs on me. From the day your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until today, day after day I have persistently sent you all my servants the prophets.
But they have not listened to me, have not paid attention; they have grown stubborn and behaved worse than their ancestors. You may say all these words to them: they will not listen to you; you may call them: they will not answer. So tell them this, “Here is the nation that will not listen to the voice of the Lord its God nor take correction. Sincerity is no more, it has vanished from their mouths.”
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Luke 11:14-23
Jesus was casting out a devil and it was dumb; but when the devil had gone out the dumb man spoke, and the people were amazed. But some of them said, ‘It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.’ Others asked him, as a test, for a sign from heaven; but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses. So too with Satan: if he is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? – since you assert that it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils. Now if it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils, through whom do your own experts cast them out? Let them be your judges then. But if it is through the finger of God that I cast out devils, then know that the kingdom of God has overtaken you.
So long as a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than he is attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.
‘He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.’
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He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.

Some of us have played a childhood game called ‘Broken Telephone’ whereby a chain of players are supposed to listen carefully, to pass on a message to the next player, and the winning team is the one who has managed to preserve the integrity of the original message from the start to the end of the chain. This game is hilarious when we realize the amplification of distortion that words can undergo. Often, the intermediate messages no longer make sense, yet, by the rules of the game, we cannot verify the original message with the first player and are compelled to pass whatever message we heard, on.

‘Follow right to the end the way that I mark out for you, and you will prosper’ (Jer 7:23). This is the command given by God to us, his people, through Jeremiah. Yet this is not an easy instruction to follow. In the world today, there are so many distractions and distortions to reality that can insidiously veer us off-track. Social media and the sheer variety of apps and platforms available to us, afford an illusion of a virtual community that is very real and, perhaps, even meaningful. Maybe they are. Maybe these virtual connections do enhance our personal lives and interactions with people when we do meet face-to-face. But out of the many hours we spend frittering away on these communication platforms, how often do we come away feeling genuinely and sincerely enriched, invigorated, and enlightened? Or do we register an irksome feeling that we’ve scrolled on just a bit too much on Instagram, Facebook, etc, when we glance up at the clock to suddenly realize an unknowing hour has passed?

I recently attended a talk by Tristan Harris (who was a Design Ethicist at Google) and came away with a greater awareness of how the entire set-up of social media platforms (Facebook, Google, Instagram, SnapChat, etc) are designed to influence consumers’ behaviours and induce addiction to these ‘windows’ onto the virtual world. These apps are cleverly designed to milk users’ ‘attention economy’ for profit. While he called for an ‘ethics of technology’ to guide the design of social media tools, he admitted that the forces that be in engineering boardrooms of the top Tech companies measured success by the numbers of users who get hooked on, and keep using these mediums. In his words, “Never before in history have the decisions of a handful of designers (mostly men, white, living in SF, aged 25–35) working at 3 companies”—Google, Apple, and Facebook—“had so much impact on how millions of people around the world spend their attention…”

However, the majority of the audiences at the talk were surprisingly unable to think outside the box of their fundamental reliance on their personal mobile devices and numerous virtual handles. Instead, their pressing questions went along the lines of: What new Apps can we design to help us manage our over-reliance on social media? How can we create innovative products that encourage a healthy use of our phones and personal devices?

Many of us are strikingly unable to hear the truth even if the truth were plain to see. Is the solution to addiction to replace it with another addiction? We may even shudder to consider our benign technological reliance as an addiction – we’d easily point to extremes of gambling, alcoholism, drugs and pornography as real addictions. We’d rather ours be mere incidental inconveniences, an inevitable symptom of our technological times, something we need not challenge at fundamental levels, but seek to address with minor palatable tweaks in our behaviours.

But they did not listen, they did not pay attention; they followed the dictates of their own evil hearts, refused to face me, and turned their backs on me… they have grown stubborn and behaved worse than their ancestors. You may say all these words to them: they will not listen to you; you may call them: they will not answer. (Jer 7:23-28)

I don’t have easy solutions for this ‘new normal’ we live in. Indeed, many of us will still use social media and be logged onto these virtual communities for a large portion of our jobs and our social lives. However, as Christians who desire to lead a balanced and ordered life, we will need to cultivate a keener sense of self-examination of our deeper intentions, motivations, and preoccupations.

We need to pray for wisdom and prudence, to listen closely to the Holy Spirit, seeking God’s grace to shed light on areas of our lives, which are in tenuous imbalance. Rather than unconsciously and unquestioningly surrendering our attention economy over to the new ‘opiate of the masses’ that is social media, let’s ask ourselves — how much more valuable to turn the attention of our hearts, mind, spirit over to prayer and communion with the Lord? Let us not dull our entire being to God’s gift of life by filling up on the fleeting euphoria of being ‘Liked’ on Facebook. More than this season of Lent, will you consciously turn your back to the world, to pay heed to Christ’s voice and follow Him? Harden not your hearts!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Lord help us open our eyes and wake up to this dullness of our hearts and minds. Help me not to surrender the gift of life and unique purposefulness of my existence over to mindless addictions. Help me to use my will wisely.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for Christ who calls out everlastingly against the grain of the world. We give thanks for those who labour to challenge unjust structures and systems. We give thanks for the opportunity to make conscious and meaningful decisions to better our lives and help others fulfill their purpose.

22 March, Wednesday – So our children will believe

22 March 2017

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Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9

Moses said to the people:
‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you.

‘See, as the Lord my God has commanded me, I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?

‘But take care what you do and be on your guard. Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather, tell them to your children and to your children’s children.’

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Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’

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Tell them to your children and to your children’s children

Faith is relational. Although it is very much a personal journey undertaken by each person, we are all uplifted by the collective faith of our family, friends, and communities – just as Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ hands while he prayed for Israel’s triumph over the Amalekites (Exodus 17:12). In times of despair, we are strengthened by the stories, testimonies and journeys of faith that those around us share. We are invited to ponder deeper on this relational aspect of faith and fidelity in the readings today.

Moses reminds the Israelites that God desires them never to forget their history, their exile and journey, sufferings and triumphs:

“I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding… take care what you do and be on your guard. Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather, tell them to your children and to your children’s children’.” (Deut 4:5-9)

Likewise, we are reminded today that parents are integral to the formation of a child’s faith. Faithful parents are important to the ongoing formation of their children’s faith. But many of us have sometimes simplistically equated being faithful to being perfect. We may strive for perfection, but in our human finiteness we can hardly boast of perfection. So how can we be faithful even as we are often imperfect?

The thread in scripture points to three important actions here: ‘Remember,’ ‘Teach,’ and ‘Do.’ Each of these is vital to the transmission of our faith within our communities, and yet all three pillars in unity are needed to truly help us be witnesses to God’s love and mercy. I have been encouraged and strengthened by the testimonies of others who not only help me remember God’s faithfulness, their reflections teach me about steadfast hope in trials, and their actions and fidelity to God point me to the Truth of God as Love.

Jesus tells his disciples that he did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to complete them. Indeed, Christ fulfills the Law by the law of love. God sent Christ to walk among us, to remind us of the Law and the testimonies of the Prophets; to teach us the way of the Beatitudes; and, to complete for us the promise of salvation by dying on the Cross.

Do you have a faith story? Is God calling you to share the struggles and the beauty of being Christian with your community and your children? Let us remember that without the cross, there can be no resurrection. Let us faithfully teach the laws, customs, and reasons of our faith. Let us complete this by striving humbly to put our faith to practice by our good works – so that our children and children’s children may remember and believe.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Lord, help us by your grace to keep this flame of faith burning within, and to fan the fires of your love for other longing hearts.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for giving me the gift of my memory. Anoint my memory to recall your goodness and mercy all the days of my life.

21 March, Tuesday – Be Quiet, Let Me Love You

21 March 2017

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Daniel 3:25,34-43

Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, and he began to pray:

Oh! Do not abandon us for ever,
for the sake of your name;
do not repudiate your covenant,
do not withdraw your favour from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your friend,
of Isaac your servant,
and of Israel your holy one,
to whom you promised descendants as countless as the stars of heaven
and as the grains of sand on the seashore.
Lord, now we are the least of all the nations,
now we are despised throughout the world, today, because of our sins.
We have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince,
no holocaust, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense,
no place where we can offer you the first-fruits
and win your favour.

But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you
as holocausts of rams and bullocks,
as thousands of fattened lambs:
such let our sacrifice be to you today,
and may it be your will that we follow you wholeheartedly,
since those who put their trust in you will not be disappointed.
And now we put our whole heart into following you,
into fearing you and seeking your face once more.

Do not disappoint us;
treat us gently, as you yourself are gentle
and very merciful.
Grant us deliverance worthy of your wonderful deeds,
let your name win glory, Lord.

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Matthew 18:21-35

Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.
‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt.

Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?”

And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’

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May the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you as holocausts of rams and bullocks: such let our sacrifice be to you today.

How deep can my human love go for my husband? It is a question that goes hand-in-hand with: how deep does my forgiveness flow? Today’s readings shone a light on my tendency to practice conditional love and conditional forgiveness, chiefly to myself. This tendency is so natural to me, that I believe it will be a long and arduous process of tooling from God’s divine hand to shape me more into His Son’s image. How can I cooperate – better?

Lent had begun for me before Lent had even begun. This was the sentiment I had as this season drew near. By this I mean that I had entered a soul-wilderness that I did not welcome, no matter how much spiritual effort I put in (whether with fervor or bland duty). On the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, I walked past the large, shut wooden doors of my church and felt a longing to step in, as I thought about my Lenten plan to spend more time in Eucharistic Adoration. But I was on my way to a potluck, and so I made mental plans to find time on Friday morning to visit Jesus.

As I stepped out into the freezing Bostonian cold that night after the potluck, I was waylaid by a cheerful voice inviting me to “Pray? Light a candle? Or just step in and keep warm!” A tug in my heart told me to enter. So I walked through the narthex, down the nave, and caught my breath, as I saw our Lord’s True Presence in the Blessed Sacrament upon the altar.

Floating down the nave towards the front pews, I knelt, began to pray, and was filled with contrition. I was awestruck and disarmed, but also humbled and sorrowful over the distance (I realized) I had put between God and myself. Feeling ‘not good enough’ in my spiritual progress and the eradication of my flaws, I was alienated by my self-judgment. Thus flowed the thoughts in my head: bouncing between joy and surrender, and enumerating my petty trespasses before Christ. Until I felt a warm, steady voice say:

+ I am here for you.

“But I am not done with my list…”

+ Be quiet. Just let me love you.

And just like that, I fell silent and listened. These were waves. Waves upon waves, that flooded my need to speak. Even as I gasped for air to respond, His waves would not let me breathe. I simply had to give myself up and surrender to the love of Jesus flowing over me. I had to be quiet, so that I could be loved.

The contrite soul is itself the purest form of sacrifice God asks of any one of us who love Him. A humbled spirit is as worthy and pleasing to Him as any oblation, incense, or material sacrifice – as the Prophet Daniel says. This Lent, although we might have absent-mindedly selected ‘low-hanging fruit’ sacrifices or abstinences, there is an even greater value at this point to pause and enter into deeper examination of our spiritual health. A quietly contrite heart is the first portal by which we enter into true communion with Him.

God’s mercy is wider and deeper than any ocean. His waves of mercy are already offered to us, pressing onto the closed door of our hearts. We only need to unlatch this door through humble self-reflection – our contrite spirit will pry these door leaves wide open, allowing His forgiveness to gush in and cleanse our hearts. If you only let Him love you.

“There is a need for Christian forgiveness, which instills hope and trust without weakening the struggle against evil. There is a need to give and receive mercy. But we cannot forgive if we do not let God forgive us first, recognizing that it is we who are the object of his mercy. We will be ready to forgive the debts of others only if we become aware of the enormous debt that we ourselves have been forgiven.” (Pope St John Paul II, Angelus, Sunday, 29 March 1998)*

It happened to me that night — God’s invitation to shush my inner chatter, so that He could love me. By allowing myself to be forgiven, and accepting God’s grace, I could open the valves of my heart to more freely forgive others who have hurt me.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: We pray for the gift of inner silence this Lent, in order to contemplate the gravity of forgiveness Christ’s sacrifice has wrought for us. We pray for the generosity of heart to receive forgiveness, in order that we may become channels of forgiveness to others.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always leaving your light on for me.

*Source:http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/angelus/1998/documents/hf_jp-ii_ang_29031998.html

19 March, Monday – Eeny, Meenie, Miney, Mo

19 March – Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Joseph is a descendant of the house of David. A layman and a carpenter, he was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and foster and adoptive father of Jesus Christ. He was a visionary who was visited by angels, and is noted for his willingness to immediately get up and do what God told him.

Prayer to St. Joseph

Blessed Joseph, husband of Mary, be with us this day.
You protected and cherished the Virgin;
loving the Child Jesus as your Son,
you rescued Him from the danger of death.
Defend the Church, the household of God,
purchased by the blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,
be with us in our trials.
May your prayers obtain for us
the strength to flee from error
and wrestle with the powers of corruption
so that in life we may grow in holiness
and in death rejoice in the crown of victory. Amen.

  • Patron Saint Index

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2 Samuel 7:4-5,12-14,16

The word of the Lord came to Nathan:
‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: “When your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.) I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Yet I will not withdraw my favour from him, as I withdrew it from your predecessor. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’

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Romans 4:13,16-18,22

The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith. That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us. As scripture says: I have made you the ancestor of many nations – Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.

Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars. This is the faith that was ‘considered as justifying him.’

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Matthew 1:16,18-21,24

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do.

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“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus.”

 St. Joseph is never referred to as the guardian, or the father of Jesus. Being more often known as the husband of Mary, he lived a life of humility and service, supporting God’s plan while working tirelessly outside of the limelight. I empathized with him, as he wrestled with the news of how the birth of Jesus would forever change his life, regardless of his response. He could either have stood by Mary’s side and fulfilled his duties as a husband, or he could have walked away and started afresh.

Sometimes God entrusts us with responsibilities that we may not want to undertake. These duties fill us with fear and anxiety, and make us question our worthiness to live up to grand expectations perpetuated by society, and ourselves. In today’s ‘empowered’ world where the ability to make our own choices is held so dearly, we wrestle with the constant dilemma of choosing to live for God wholeheartedly, to live the life that we tweak and adjust so that it seems like we are living in accordance to God’s will, or to dive completely into the mission that God tasks us with.

But is the choice really one between similar outcomes? I’ve been guilty of making ‘good’ choices, only to feel a deep sense of restlessness that only subsides once I tweak my original plan. I have also made choices after much prayer and reflection, only to still have to face God’s silence, as I work through the consequences of my actions while managing the uncertainty that still lingers for a long time after. Choice, it would seem, is just the beginning of a pact we make with God and ourselves.

Our loving God not only grants us the wisdom to make choices out of our own free will, but he also empowers us to follow-through on those choices in spite of the fog of confusion or doubt that is along that path. It is the beauty of the relentless cycle of choices being presented, discerning and praying before choosing, and leaning on God as we work through the consequences of our actions, that make the Christian life so rigorous, and comforting. The simplicity and difficulty of this cycle, help us to plant deep roots into the rich field of our earthly life so that no storm or tempest could ever sway us beyond our limits.

St. Joseph made his choice all those years ago and his legacy is something that we give thanks for everyday. Fellow journeyers in Christ, how will the choices you make today leave a legacy that would be pleasing to God?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Anonymous)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we ask you to reveal your plan for our life’s vocation, and to give us the courage to do whatever it takes to answer your call.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for the quiet workers in our lives. With gratitude, we praise you for the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

19 March – Sunday – An Arrogant Heart cannot hear

19 March 2017

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Exodus 17:3-7

Tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’

Moses appealed to the Lord. ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’ This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

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Romans 5:1-2,5-8

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.

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John 4:5-42

Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:

‘If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.’

‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied:

‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.’

‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’ ‘Go and call your husband’ said Jesus to her ‘and come back here.’ The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:

‘Believe me, woman,
the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know:
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’

The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’
At this point his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking to her?’ The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’ This brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.
Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat; but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples asked one another, ‘Has someone been bringing him food?’ But Jesus said:

‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me,
and to complete his work.
Have you not got a saying:
Four months and then the harvest?
Well, I tell you:
Look around you, look at the fields;
already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life,
and thus sower and reaper rejoice together.
For here the proverb holds good:
one sows, another reaps;
I sent you to reap a harvest you had not worked for.
Others worked for it;
and you have come into the rewards of their trouble.’

Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

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… They put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

Isn’t the grumbling of the Israelites against Moses, and chiefly against God, something so familiar today? Grumbling is a rather universal response of having to grow up – being made to do things against your will, things of inconvenience or difficulty that may or may not actually really be good for you. The only way to know is to stick around and overcome the challenges in order to grow in maturity and humility.

In our daily lives, we grumble about many things – the trains repeatedly breaking down at rush hour, water price surges, a delayed bus, being waylaid by a boss’ last minute work request. These complaints might come across as ungrateful when compared to the tormenting thirst and desert wilderness of the wandering Israelites. Yet, the Exodus reading today tells us the Israelites had committed the sin of putting God to the test. I could not understand this until I read a few chapters back to where they had just come from – a narrow escape from generations of slavery in Egypt!

God had led them through the Red Sea. He provided them with twelve springs and seventy palm trees in the land of Elim (Exodus 15), and the abundant ‘rain’ of manna and quail in the Desert of Sin (Exodus 16). Every time the Israelites faced a season of drought or famine, they grumbled and whined that Moses should have left them in the land of Egypt, where at least they had their fill of food and water. Each time, Moses had turned to God and He had mercifully provided for more than the present needs of these pilgrim-wanderers. Yet, we witness another tirade of doubting the Lord!

The questions the Israelites posed, essentially taunting Moses with “Is the Lord with us, or not?” is probably rhetorical at that time of their impatience and arrogance. I cannot help but sense sarcasm too – “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?”

Each chapter of their desert exile was a story of deliverance out of suffering and doubt. Yet, they habitually forgot to remember the immense goodness of God. I am not so different today, sitting at my desk and reflecting on these scriptures. It is so very easy to harden my heart to God’s voice. Though each season of my own faith challenges, a fork in life’s path or trials at work might look different from the past, God’s love and saving grace never changes. The problem I’ve realized here is that sometimes, my “Are you there, God? – It’s me, Margaret” question isn’t asked in humility; but in defiance, entitlement, even demand. In short — such flawed arrogance.

This is vastly different from the question and attitude in which the Samaritan woman asked Jesus: “Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and cattle?” She asks in order to listen, to understand, and to wait upon Jesus’ answer. God has clearly continued to provide for and deliver the descendants of the Israelites and Samaritans alike, including taking care of what they need for food and drink (c.f. Matt 5:45; 6: 24-34).

In my Lenten journey this year, I feel challenged to grow up in humility and patience to discover the depth of purpose God has for me when I am made to wait, struggle, feel inadequate, experience loneliness, lose my motivation, endure hopeless circles of confusion in my work. If I am listening well – and I want to listen humbly – I can hear Him whisper: I am always with you. This desert can still be everything good for me because I have Jesus here.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Lord, I pray for your grace to open my heart and spirit to the enduring truth and evidence of your goodness for me. Help me to listen and remember.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for never hardening your heart to me, even as I have often hardened mine to you.

18 March, Saturday – Grace: God’s gift

18 Mar – Memorial for St. Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop and doctor

Cyril (315-386) was raised a Christian in Jerusalem. He was well-educated, especially in religion. He was ordained a priest by St. Maximus, and was a great instructor of catechumens. His instructions are still source documents for the Church’s early teachings. He became Bishop of Jerusalem in 348. He was exiled three times by the Arians, usually on some trumped up charge like selling church furniture, but actually on theological grounds. He attended the Council of Seleucia in 359, and the Council of Constantinople in 381. He is a Greek Father of the Church, and a Doctor of the Church.

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Micah 7:14-15,18-20

With shepherd’s crook, O Lord, lead your people to pasture,
the flock that is your heritage,
living confined in a forest
with meadow land all around.
Let them pasture in Bashan and Gilead
as in the days of old.
As in the days when you came out of Egypt
grant us to see wonders.

What god can compare with you: taking fault away,
pardoning crime,
not cherishing anger for ever
but delighting in showing mercy?
Once more have pity on us,
tread down our faults,
to the bottom of the sea
throw all our sins.

Grant Jacob your faithfulness,
and Abraham your mercy,
as you swore to our fathers
from the days of long ago.

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Gospel
Luke 15:1-3,11-32

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.
‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’

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“… all I have is yours”

The story of the Prodigal Son is a well-known parable and is always shared and reflected upon. Many of us identify so much with the younger son and with his repentance, turning back to his father after a long period of debauchery and licentiousness.

We read about the father’s love for his son, who upon hearing of the latter’s return, ordered his servants to slaughter the calf in celebration.

In recent years, however, the story of the elder son has been foremost on my mind.  It is in his story that has really given me a better understanding of God’s kingdom.

I imagined myself in his position, working hard for his father.  In my mind, in a similar situation, I would have thought that I would stand to inherit everything, especially after how my younger brother had demanded for, and received, his share of the inheritance. Whatever I work hard for would ultimately be for myself!

I can commiserate with him when he then saw his brother receive the kind of treatment he did upon his return. All his work and dedication had been for nothing, and he must have felt less important than his brother.

And yet, when we reflect on this passage, we understand when we remember that God’s grace is given and not earned. In the older son’s story, he had earned and deserved his position. It wasn’t fair that his brother could still come back to a good life! On the other hand, God’s grace is a gift that no amount of ‘work’ on our part gives us a right to!

I teach Catechism to primary school level children and even at such a young age, they express the view that they cannot sin, so that they can go to heaven. These children consistently share the view that we need to always work hard (either doing good or not doing bad) in order to earn the right to heaven.  This is ‘elder son’ thinking!

We need to remember that our place in heaven is assured and that while we still need to do good, this desire should stem from God’s love in us and not the desire to earn something out of it. Thank goodness for this, for if a meritocracy-based approach were applied, so many of us would fail miserably!

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer Father, help us to always remember that your love for us is infinite and that our place in heaven is a gift given by you. Help us to do good because of your love for us, and that no matter what we do, we could never hope to earn our place by your side.

Thanksgiving – Thank You Father God, for loving us and for sending your son Jesus to die for our sins and to be a bridge back to you.