Daily Archives: December 4, 2007

Wednesday, December 5 – Simple Food

05 Dec

The Blind Friends

The movie Butterflies Are Free, is a very inspiring one. It concerns a young man, Don, who is blind. Because of his disability, his mother is over-protective of him. As he grows up, Don realizes he is becoming too dependent on her, so he makes a painful though courageous decision. He leaves the comfort of his home, takes up a simple one-room apartment, and begins a new life as a song-writer and singer.

Next-door to Don lives a charming young lady named Jill. They befriend each other. Eventually Don learns that Jill is a very disturbed person. She had been left in the lurch by a lover, and she just cannot get over the feelings of rejection and hurt. Nevertheless, she is so kind and helpful to Don that he falls in love with her. One day Don plucks up the courage to ask Jill if she would marry him. Jill, however, refuses. She assures him that she truly loves him and wants to marry him, but her fear of getting hurt again or even facing rejection is too great for her to make a decision.

There follows a crucial scene in which Don confesses to Jill how her love and concern for him has healed him of a blindness that went deeper than his physical blindness. He had been pitying himself all along. But through his relationship with her he had come to accept himself and his physical handicap. He had realized that he is a person worthy of being loved and capable of loving. He had begun to see things as beautiful – both within him and outside him.

In contrast to his own experience, Don explains to Jill how ‘blind’ she had actually become, ever since the ‘tragedy’ in her life, and how she failed to ‘see’ her own goodness and beauty. More, she was blind to the goodness and beauty of the people around her. Jill is touched by Don’s insight. She finally accepts the truth and responds to his love.

– What thoughts, feelings, occurred to you while you went through the story?
– What do you think is the ‘moral’ of the story?

– taken from “Persons Are Gifts”, by Hedwig Lewis, SJ

Isaiah 25:6-10a

On this mountain, for all peoples,
Yahweh Sabaoth is preparing
a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines,
of succulent food, of well-strained wines.
On this mountain, he has destroyed
the veil which used to veil all peoples,
the pall enveloping all nations;
he has destroyed death for ever.
Lord Yahweh has wiped away the tears from every cheek;
he has taken his people’s shame away everywhere on earth,
for Yahweh has spoken.

And on that day, it will be said,
‘Look, this is our God,
in him we put our hope that he should save us,
this is Yahweh, we put our hope in him.
Let us exult and rejoice since he has saved us.’
For Yahweh’s hand will rest on this mountain.


Matthew 15:29-37

Jesus went on from there and reached the shores of the Lake of Galilee, and he went up onto the mountain. He took his seat, and large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds where astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.

But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, or they might collapse on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where in a deserted place could we get sufficient bread for such a large crowd to have enough to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ They said, ‘Seven, and a few small fish.’ Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks he broke them and began handing them to the disciples, who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.

When I read about the banquet in the prophecy in Isaiah, I imagined a table laden with a lot of different food.

However, the feast in the Gospel reading only consisted of bread and fish. What made it resemble a banquet was the vast number of people. To the stomach which has the privilege of choice of good food, this is very simple and can hardly be considered a feast! Yet within the meal was not mere food. It was a miracle. The means by which so many people could be fed was divine. Any chef can cook a meal but it is God who can provide it.

At the Last Supper, there was a banquet that we still celebrate today. The Eucharist. This time, there is only bread and wine. But simple bread and wine later becomes the most precious food that we can have – the body and blood of Jesus Christ. When we receive Holy Communion, it all tastes and looks like bread and wine, but again, God has transformed it.

Are we able to recognise that we are truly in a banquet at Mass? Are we able to appreciate and give thanks for God’s blessings, especially when they appear in the simplest of forms?

Are you happy when people appreciate what you’ve done for them, or when you compliment them? God is delighted when you are able to rejoice and give thanks for what He has prepared for you. Perhaps it is not a scrumptious a banquet as you might imagine. But when you sit down and reflect about what you have experienced, you might just be able to savour what He has provided.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Regina Xie)

Give thanks to the Lord for: blessing us wonderfully and abundantly.

Prayer: Father, guide us to be able to taste the banquet You prepare for us.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 29 Nov – Daniel 6:12-28; Luke 21:20-28
Fri, 30 Nov – Romans 10:9-18; Matthew 4:18-22; Feast of St. Andrew, apostle
Sat, 01 Dec – Daniel 7:15-27; Luke 21:34-36
Sun, 02 Dec – Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14a; Matthew 24:37-44; First Sunday of Advent

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Tuesday, December 4 – Racism

04 Dec – Memorial for St. John Damascus

Show me the icons that you venerate, that I may be able to understand your faith.
– Saint John of Damascus

St. John Damascus (676-749) was the son of Mansur, and a representative of the Christians to the court of the Muslim caliph. He apparently thrived as a Christian in a Saracen land, becoming the chief financial officer for caliph Abdul Malek. He was tutored in his youth by a captured Italian monk named Cosmas. Between the Christian learning of the monk, and that of the Muslim schools, John became highly educated in the classical fields (geometry, literature, logic, rhetoric, etc).

He defended the use of icons and images in churches though a series of letters opposing the anti-icon decrees of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople. Legend says that Germanus plotted against him and forged a letter in which John betrayed the caliph; the caliph ordered John’s writing hand chopped off, but the Virgin Mary appeared and reattached the hand, a miracle which restored the caliph’s faith in him.

After this incident, John became a monk, and later a priest, near Jerusalem. He was anathematized by name by the Council of Constantinople in 754 over his defense of the use of icons, but defended by the Seventh Council of Nicea in 787.

He was a prolific writer who wrote “The Fountain Of Wisdom”, the first real compendium of Christian theology, along with other works defending the orthodox faith, commentaries on St. Paul, poetry, and hymns. He was a philosopher and an orator. Such an excellent speaker he was that he was known as Chrysorrhoas (“golden-stream”). He was the last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and the first of the Christian Aristotleans. He adapted choral music for use in liturgy, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII.

– Source: Patron Saint Index

Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
a scion thrusts from his roots:
on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless,
his sentences bring death to the wicked.

Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion cub feed together
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.

That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations
and its home will be glorious.


Luke 10:21-24

Filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and non one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, “Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.”

Racism is an ugly thing. It blinds our vision and colours our perception, if you pardon the expression. Despite growing up in a multi-racial society, I still see many instances of racism around me, some of which are deep-set. One of my family members has a deep prejudice against all people of a particular race, and through conversations with him, I realise that this prejudice comes from a particular experience with a member of that particular race. The experience hurt him very deeply, and involved a breach of trust that led my loved one to never again trust anyone of that particular race.

Needless to say, I’ve been brought up and taught to dislike people of that race, but fortunately, I’ve always been a slow learner. You know what the funny thing is? Throughout my life, I’ve made many friends of that particular race, and for about half of my life until today, my best friend is of that race. It is thanks to this friendship I had that protected me from that ugly racism when recently, I too was hurt by a person of that particular race. I didn’t realise racism was taking a hold of me until I noticed that my perceptions were coloured before I even got to know some other people.

When I recall my childhood experiences of how I used to have many friends of all races, I realised that a person’s race does not matter to children. Children are completely free to befriend people of all races. It is only through our experiences in life, especially those of hurt and unforgiveness, that lead us to have prejudices against certain races. But it need not be the case.

In today’s readings, we see Isaiah and Jesus talking about something which is revealed to children, but not necessarily to those who are experienced with life. We can say that children are able to look at people of other races without prejudice because they have never been hurt by people of those races. But what about us? What do we do with our own deep-set prejudices against people of other races? Some of us may have inherited these prejudices from our parents, some of us may have developed our own through our own experiences of people with other races. How do we prevent racism, that ugly mentality, from turning us into ugly people?

The answer: we offer all our hurts, all our pains, all our experiences to our Lord Jesus. We ask Him to give us the grace to accept that we have been hurt, just as He has, and to forgive the people who have hurt us. We ask Him to give us a new vision, a vision that sees each person as a child of God. We ask Him to give us opportunities to treat all people, regardless of race, as a child of God, as a brother or sister in Christ. It will not be easy, but it is possible, for nothing is impossible with God.

After all, if peoples of all nations will come to Jesus, then we had better start learning from today how to live with and to love people of all races.

Dear Jesus, teach us to love other people as you love us. Help us not to hate people just because of their race, but to see that the other person is our brother, is our sister, because we share the same bond that is you. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: A multi-racial society that gives us ample opportunities to love one another.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 05 Dec – Isaiah 25:6-10a; Matthew 15:29-37
Thu, 06 Dec – Isaiah 26:1-6; Mathew 7:21, 24-31; Memorial for St. Nicholas, bishop
Fri, 07 Dec – Isaiah 29:17-24; Matthew 9:27-31; Memorial for St. Ambrose, bishop, doctor of the Church
Sat, 08 Dec – Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38; Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
Sun, 09 Dec – Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12; Second Sunday of Advent

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