Monthly Archives: July 2008

Thursday, 24 July – Ears that cannot hear

24 Jul – Thursday in the Sixteenth week in Ordinary Time
                    St. Sharbel Makhluf, priest

St. Sharbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, St. Sharbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice and prayer by the way he lived his life.

____________________

Jeremiah 2:1-3. 7-8. 12-13 

The Lord says this:
I remember the affection of your youth,
the love of your bridal days:
you followed me through the wilderness,
through a land unsown.
Israel was sacred to the Lord,
the first-fruits of his harvest;
anyone who ate of this had to pay for it,
misfortune came to them –
it is the Lord who speaks.

I brought you to a fertile country
to enjoy its produce and good things;
but no sooner had you entered than you defiled my land,
and made my heritage detestable.
The priests have never asked, “Where is the Lord?”
Those who administer the Law have no knowledge of me.
The shepherds have rebelled against me;
the prophets have prophesied in the name of Baal,
following things with no power in them.
You heavens, stand aghast at this,
stand stupefied, stand utterly appalled
– it is the Lord who speaks.
Since my people have committed a double crime:
they have abandoned me,
the fountain of living water,
only to dig cisterns for themselves,
leaky cisterns
that hold no water.
____________________

Matthew 13:10-17

The disciples went up to Jesus and asked, ‘Why do you talk to them in parables?’ ‘Because’ he replied, ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them. For anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled:

You will listen and listen again, but not understand,
see and see again, but not perceive.
For the heart of this nation has grown coarse,
their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes,
for fear they should see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and be converted
and be healed by me.

‘But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’

 _______________________

The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding.

My church sacristan once commented to me that his boys were becoming deaf because of the continued presence of earphones blasting loud music into their ears. It seems to him that having an ear does not mean that one can hear. Prophet Jeremiah and our Lord Jesus Christ certainly faced the same problems during their time except it is their spiritual ears that refused to listen.

God promises us a life of happiness and eternal joy as long as we obey his commandments and understand that His ways require us to make sacrifices on this life of ours. However, we fear giving up the temporary pleasures of this world because that would mean a total change in lifestyle. It is the fear of the unknown that makes us afraid to abandon our former ways of life. This made Prophet Jeremiah proclaim that the Israelites have “abandoned the fountain of living water, only to dig leaky cisterns that hold no water”.

Our sinful ways of life are similar to these leaky cisterns that are unable to replicate the wholesome love of God. God offers us the source of life in the Holy Eucharist where we can partake of the Body and Blood of Christ that will sustain us in our journey against the temptations of this world. Let us abandon these old ways of sin in order to live in the life of salvation that God has freely given to us.

(Today’s reflection by Nicholas Chia)
___________________

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the courage to break free from the old ways of sin.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people who remind us that Christian living is all about sacrifice.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
25 Jul, Fri – Jeremiah 3:14-17 Matthew 13:18-23
26 Jul, Sat – Jeremiah 7:1-11 Matthew 13:24-30
27 Jul, Sun – 1 Kings 3:5-12 Romans 8:28-230, Matthew 13:44-52- Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Wednesday, 23 July – Same same, only different

23 Jul – Wednesday in the Sixteenth week in Ordinary Time
                    St. Bridget of Sweden, religious founder

Coming from a noble yet religious background, St. Bridget (1302-1373) was friend and counsellor to many priests and theologians of her day. As chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur, she counselled and guided the Queen and King Magnus II. She was harassed by others at the court for pursuing a religious life. She eventually renounced her title of princess and became the foundress of the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettines), chastening and counselling kings and Popes Clement VI, Urban VI, and Gregory XI. St Bridget encouraged all who would listen to meditate on the Passion, and of Jesus Crucified.

____________________

Jeremiah 1:1. 4-10

The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, of a priestly family living at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.

The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.’

I said, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’
But the Lord replied,
‘Do not say, “I am a child.”
Go now to those to whom I send you
and, say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to protect you –
it is the Lord who speaks!’

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me:
‘There! I am putting my words into your mouth.
Look, today I am setting you
over nations and over kingdoms,
to tear up and to knock down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’

____________________

Matthew 13:1-9

That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.

He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

_______________________

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you.

As a senior member of the altar servers’ society that I belonged to, I was responsible for the training of the new boys. It was interesting to observe that although the same teaching method was used to pass down the same content, the learning pace was markedly different. Some boys were totally enthusiastic about the training whilst others were just indifferent. I never managed to understand why this was the case until much later when I heard today’s Gospel passage being proclaimed.

The seeds of our faith are sown into our hearts when we are baptized. Our parents, god-parents and relatives are supposed to instruct us in the faith and in the process nurture the seed of faith that we God has planted in our heart. This process is not a uniform one and it differs from individual to individual. We have to make a choice to decide whether we want to continue to live the faith that we were brought up in. It was the same with the servers; some were unwilling to learn because they were forced by their parents. Others were enthusiastic because they made the choice to join the group.

Age is not an issue in this case because if God calls us for a mission, we will be able to carry it out regardless of the lack of experience. The calling of prophet Jeremiah in today’s first reading tells us that the Lord will protect us from all harm as long as we carry out his will. It now lies with us to decide whether we want to answer this call of God.

(Today’s reflection by Nicholas Chia)
___________________

Prayer: Lord, we pray for your guidance to proclaim your Word in this world.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who instruct others in the faith through their lives.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
24 Jul, Thu – Jeremiah 2:1-3. 7-8. 12-13 Matthew 13:10-17
25 Jul, Fri – Jeremiah 3:14-17 Matthew 13:18-23
26 Jul, Sat – Jeremiah 7:1-11 Matthew 13:24-30
27 Jul, Sun – 1 Kings 3:5-12 Romans 8:28-230, Matthew 13:44-52- Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Tuesday, 22 July – In God we obey

22 Jul – Tuesday in the Sixteenth week in Ordinary Time,
                  St Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord

____________________

Jul 22 – St. Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord

Mary Magdalene was one of the few apostles who stayed with Jesus while he suffered and died on the Cross. She was the first one to see the risen Jesus. Jesus told her to announce His resurrection to the other apostles. St. Mary Magdalene was cured of demons. However, she is usually mistaken as the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50. She is the Patron Saint of the Order of Preachers and Penitents.

http://www.carr.org/~meripper/saints/saints-m.htm

____________________

Micah 7: 14-15. 18-20

With shepherd’s crook 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.

____________________

Matthew 12:46-50

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

Meanwhile Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.

_______________________

Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.

Some have alluded to today’s Gospel passage as irrefutable evidence that Mary’s role in the history of salvation was insignificant because our Lord Jesus Christ denied her request to speak to him. This view is erroneous in my opinion; on the contrary, we can say that Mother Mary herself fulfilled the criteria that Christ set forth in the last line of the Gospel passage.

Doing the will of God is the surest way to ensure that we can be counted as a ‘relative’ of Christ. Indeed, sometimes we do wonder what God’s will is for us. Through retreats, spiritual direction and quiet meditation, we seek to ask God to show us His will to us. Sometimes it is hard to accept His plans for us because it is not in line with ours.

Perhaps we could turn to Mary our Mother as our role model and perfect example of what it means to be totally obedient to God. She always accepted the will of God regardless of the uncertainty that it brought along. Events such as the fears experienced at the Annunciation, trauma at having lost the boy Jesus at the age of twelve and the tremendous sorrow at seeing her Son being nailed to the cross were borne quietly without any outburst at God.

Our sorrows are slight compared to what our Lady had to go through in her life on earth. We can certainly follow her example by embarking on prayer and an offering of all our sorrows and joys to the Lord. Through these actions, we will understand the will of God and live our life according to His plan. Then in heaven, we can be assured that Christ will acknowledge us as His brother who lived according to the plan of His Father.

(Today’s reflection by Nicholas Chia)
___________________

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the obedience to accept your will.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our sufferings that enable us to grow in holiness.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
23 Jul, Wed – Jeremiah 1:1. 4-10 Matthew 13:1-9
24 Jul, Thu – Jeremiah 2:1-3. 7-8. 12-13 Matthew 13:10-17
25 Jul, Fri – Jeremiah 3:14-17 Matthew 13:18-23
26 Jul, Sat – Jeremiah 7:1-11 Matthew 13:24-30
27 Jul, Sun – 1 Kings 3:5-12 Romans 8:28-230, Matthew 13:44-52- Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Monday, 21 July – Show and Tell

21 Jul – Monday in the Sixteenth week in Ordinary Time,
                  St Lawrence Brindisi, priest, religious doctor

____________________

St Lawrence (1559-1619) joined the Capuchin Friars in 1575. He studied theology, the Bible, French, German, Greek, Spanish, Syriac, and Hebrew. He was an effective and forceful preacher in any of his several languages, founded convents and wrote catechisms. As the chaplain of the army of the Holy Roman Empire in 1601, he led the army into battle against the Turks carrying only a crucifix, and defeated them. Later, he carried out important and successful diplomatic peace missions. He was the spiritual director of the Bavarian army. St Lawrence was proclaimed Apostolic Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959.

____________________

Micah 6:1-4. 6-8

Now listen to what the Lord is saying:
Stand up and let the case begin in the hearing of the mountains
and let the hills hear what you say.
Listen, you mountains, to the Lord’s accusation,
give ear, you foundations of the earth,
for the Lord is accusing his people,
pleading against Israel:
My people, what have I done to you,
how have I been a burden to you? Answer me.
I brought you out of the land of Egypt,
I rescued you from the house of slavery;
I sent Moses to lead you,
with Aaron and Miriam.

‘With what gift shall I come into the Lord’s presence
and bow down before God on high?
Shall I come with holocausts,
with calves one year old?
Will he be pleased with rams by the thousand,
with libations of oil in torrents?
Must I give my first-born for what I have done wrong,
the fruit of my body for my own sin?’

– What is good has been explained to you, man;
this is what the Lord asks of you:
only this, to act justly,
to love tenderly
and to walk humbly with your God.

____________________

Matthew 12:38-42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees spoke up. ‘Master,’ they said ‘we should like to see a sign from you.’ He replied, ‘It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.’

_______________________

… [T]o act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with God

As part of my community service in my teenage years, I went to a home for the elderly to put up a performance for them. What I came to realize is that these people are not in need of performances and gifts but rather company and companionship. Some have been abandoned by their families and have no place to go. All they yearn for is just the human presence. Indeed, today’s readings remind us that God expects the same from us: only that we keep close to Him and not be bothered with the externals.

Prophet Micah tells us that God expects only obedience to his will and demonstrating kindness and love to our neighbours. He does not require sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake but only if this sacrifice is done as a result of an expression of our love to either God or our neighbour. The Pharisees ask for a sign in today’s Gospel because they are like little children who are into “Show and Tell”; they seek these phenomena or miracles as a basis of justifying their faith.

In the present day, there are some Catholics who continually seek physical healing or any religious article that is known to be ‘miraculous’ in nature. Such an approach is untenable because our faith is built on the foundation of faith that is cultivated through prayer and projected externally in the form of our Christian behaviour.

There is something greater in our daily lives than these ‘externals’ that some seek as an affirmation of their faith. It is Christ in the Holy Eucharist and our neighbours living right in our presence. The sign of God’s love is made known to the world by our example.

(Today’s reflection by Nicholas Chia)
___________________

Prayer: Lord, let us always remember that you seek the purity of heart and not the cleanliness of our body.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to almighty God for all the things that we often take for granted.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
22 Jul, Tue – Micah 7:14-15.18-20. Matthew 12:46-50
23 Jul, Wed – Jeremiah 1:1. 4-10 Matthew 13:1-9
24 Jul, Thu – Jeremiah 2:1-3. 7-8. 12-13 Matthew 13:10-17
25 Jul, Fri – Jeremiah 3:14-17 Matthew 13:18-23
26 Jul, Sat – Jeremiah 7:1-11 Matthew 13:24-30
27 Jul, Sun – 1 Kings 3:5-12 Romans 8:28-230, Matthew 13:44-52- Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Sunday, 20 July – Love is stronger than hate

20 July – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

____________________

Wisdom 12:13. 16-19

There is no god, other than you, who cares for every thing,
to whom you might have to prove that you never judged unjustly;
Your justice has its source in strength,
your sovereignty over all makes you lenient to all.
You show your strength when your sovereign power is questioned
and you expose the insolence of those who know it;
but, disposing of such strength, you are mild in judgement,
you govern us with great lenience,
for you have only to will, and your power is there.
By acting thus you have taught a lesson to your people
how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow men,
and you have given your sons the good hope
that after sin you will grant repentance.

____________________

Romans 8:26-27

The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.

____________________

Matthew 13:24-43

Jesus put another parable before them, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”’

He put another parable before them, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.’
He told them another parable, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’
In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:

I will speak to you in parables
and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.

Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

_______________________

The spirit comes to help us in our weakness

I am always amazed at the intense hatred that some of my friends have against their enemies. They always tell me that they may be able to forgive but they cannot forget the wrong that was done to them. In today’s readings, we learn that God does not behave in this manner and by extension, we as Catholics must emulate his example.

This world is a testing ground for us to learn how to live with our enemies. Christ did not choose to remove the darnel from the field because he feared that the wheat might be pulled up together. The presence of our enemies helps us to lead a closer life to God because it makes us realize our helplessness and that we need God in our lives. We become ‘fitter’ spiritually because in our combat with the evil one, we constantly gain the graces and merits that will strengthen our Christian example to the world.

It is difficult to articulate our prayer intentions to the Lord because there are times where we might have tremendous hatred in us. In such circumstances, perhaps it will be good to surrender to the Lord all this hatred and let the Spirit of God articulate our prayer in our moment of weakness.

(Today’s reflection by Nicholas Chia)
___________

Prayer: Lord, we pray that you give us the strength to acknowledge our failures and ask you for pardon and strength.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the many times that God forgive us.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
21 Jul, Mon – Micah 6:1-4. 6-8, Matthew 12:38-42
22 Jul, Tue – Micah 7:14-15.18-20. Matthew 12:46-50
23 Jul, Wed – Jeremiah 1:1. 4-10 Matthew 13:1-9
24 Jul, Thu – Jeremiah 2:1-3. 7-8. 12-13 Matthew 13:10-17
25 Jul, Fri – Jeremiah 3:14-17 Matthew 13:18-23
26 Jul, Sat – Jeremiah 7:1-11 Matthew 13:24-30
27 Jul, Sun – 1 Kings 3:5-12 Romans 8:28-230, Matthew 13:44-52- Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Saturday, July 19 – Hope in God

19 July – Saturday in the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

____________________

Micah 2:1-5

Woe to those who plot evil,
who lie in bed planning mischief!
No sooner is it dawn than they do it
– their hands have the strength for it.
Seizing the fields that they covet,
they take over houses as well,
owner and house they confiscate together,
taking both man and inheritance.
So the Lord says this:
Now it is I who plot
such mischief against this breed
as your necks will not escape;
nor will you be able to walk proudly,
so evil will the time be.
On that day they will make a satire on you,
sing a dirge and say,
‘We are stripped of everything;
my people’s portion is measured out and shared,
no one will give it back to them,
our fields are awarded to our despoiler.’
Therefore you will have no one
to measure out a share
in the community of the Lord.
____________________

Matthew 12:14-21

The Pharisees went out and began to plot against him, discussing how to destroy him.
Jesus knew this and withdrew from the district. Many followed him and he cured them all, but warned them not to make him known. This was to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah:

Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved, the favourite of my soul.
I will endow him with my spirit,
and he will proclaim the true faith to the nations.
He will not brawl or shout,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
He will not break the crushed reed,
nor put out the smouldering wick
till he has led the truth to victory:
in his name the nations will put their hope.

___________________

And in his name the Gentiles will hope.

I recently realized that I can be demanding at times. While I am tempted to give many reasons to excuse myself from this ugly behaviour, I know that such excuses are simply excuses and would not help me to grow. Nonetheless, it was (and still is) painful and quite despairing to recognize this weakness because it is an unpleasant behaviour and I had no idea how I was going to change. So while I gave thanks to God for revealing the truth to me, I also felt incredibly overwhelmed. Have you ever felt this way?

Thankfully, God never tells us something and then abandons us, saying, “Ok., now go fix yourself.” I once heard a saying: “If God leads you to it, He will bring you through it.” Changing our ugly ways would be impossible if we relied on our own strength; however, through God, it is possible. God has both the power and the desire to mold us in His image. Nonetheless, He can only do so if we allow Him to.

In order to let God work in our lives, we need to first acknowledge our sinfulness and weaknesses. While doing so, however, we must be careful not to give in to despair. Instead, we need to be like the Gentiles and place our hope in God’s name. Easy as this may sound, I think most of us would agree that holding onto our hope is much harder than wallowing in despair and self pity. However, God never disappoints those who place their hope in Him (Romans 5:5). When we hope in His name, we can be confident that we would be delivered from our sinful ways.

My brothers and sisters, we then have two choices before us: to wallow in endless despair or to place our hope in a God who never disappoints. Which would you choose?

(Today’s reflection by Jean Cheng)
____________________

Prayer: Lord, help me to break my habit of wallowing in despair and self-pity. Help me, instead, to turn to you and to place my hope in you for even though I do not know how you will help, I know you will help. 

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to a God who actively looks for ways to help us grow in His image.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
20 Jul, Sun – Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 Romans 8:26-27, Matthew 13:24-43- Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Friday, July 18 – Growing in mercy

18 July – Friday in the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

____________________

Isaiah 38:1-8, 21-22

In those days Hezekiah fell ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, ‘The Lord says this, “Put your affairs in order, for you are going to die, you will not live”.’ Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and addressed this prayer to the Lord, ‘Ah, the Lord, remember, I beg you, how I have behaved faithfully and with sincerity of heart in your presence and done what is right in your eyes.’ And Hezekiah shed many tears.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, “The Lord, the God of David your ancestor, says this: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will cure you: in three days’ time you shall go up to the Temple of the Lord.” I will add fifteen years to your life. I will save you from the hands of the king of Assyria, I will protect this city.”’

‘Bring a fig poultice,’ Isaiah said, ‘apply it to the ulcer and he will recover.’ Hezekiah said, ‘What is the sign to tell rne that I shall be going up to the Temple of the Lord?’ ‘Here’ Isaiah replied’’ ‘is the sign from the Lord that he will do what he has said. Look, I shall make the shadow cast by the declining sun go back ten steps on the steps of Ahaz.’ And the sun went back the ten steps by which it had declined.

____________________

Matthew 12:1-8

At that time Jesus took a walk one sabbath day through the cornfields. His disciples were hungry and began to pick ears of corn and eat them. The Pharisees noticed it and said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath.’ But he said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry – how he went into the house of God and how they ate the loaves of offering which neither he nor his followers were allowed to eat, but which were for the priests alone? Or again, have you not read in the Law that on the sabbath day the Temple priests break the sabbath without being blamed for it? Now here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple. And if you had understood the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless. For the Son of Man is master of the sabbath.’

___________________

I desire mercy, not sacrifice

Wouldn’t it be much easier if Jesus had said, “I desire sacrifice, not mercy”? Sacrifice would be much easier since it is an act that can be done alone. It involves a ritualistic form of behaviour and does not require the conversions of hearts. But Jesus asks more of us: he asks us to become merciful people. This is much harder to achieve because it involves interaction with others. Living with other people is never easy because we all have different ways of thinking and behaving. Conflict will inevitably arise and can manifest itself either in explicit arguments or silent discontentment.

However, in order for us to become the merciful people that God asks us to be, we need to change our hearts. This process of changing our hearts is not immediate but will require time, patience, prayer and effort. Firstly, we need to stop ourselves from lashing out at those who get in our way. Secondly, we need to accept and love the people who make our lives more difficult. This step is harder than the first and will require many prayers on our part because we, alone, do not have the power to change our hearts. We need God to help us to love and accept the people we do not see eye to eye with.

Not only is this second step more difficult but it also requires endurance because the fruits of turning to God are usually not visible until some time later. Nonetheless, success is one step at a time. Each time we stop ourselves from condemning each another and, instead, turn to God, we are already showing mercy and are growing more merciful. Rather than cursing our neighbour, let us, therefore, learn to give thanks for any opportunities to grow into more merciful people. After all, it is through such moments that God is able to purify our hearts to become completely like His own. 

(Today’s reflection by Jean Cheng)
____________________

Prayer: Holy Spirit, change my heart so that I may pass on the mercy I receive from you to others.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to a God who is quick to show mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
19 Jul, Sat – Micah 2:1-5 Matthew 12:14-21
20 Jul, Sun – Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 Romans 8:26-27, Matthew 13:24-43- Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Thursday, 17 July – Earthly Rest

17 July – Wednesday in the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

____________________

Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19

The path of the upright man is straight,
you smooth the way of the upright.
Following the path of your judgements,
we hoped in you, O Lord,
your name, your memory are all my soul desires.

At night my soul longs for you
and my spirit in me seeks for you;
when your judgements appear on earth
the inhabitants of the world learn the meaning of integrity.

O Lord, you are giving us peace,
since you treat us
as our deeds deserve.

Distressed, we search for you, O Lord;
the misery of oppression was your punishment for us.
As a woman with child near her time
writhes and cries out in her pangs,

so are we, O Lord, in your presence:
we have conceived, we writhe
as if we were giving birth;
we have not given the spirit of salvation to the earth,
no more inhabitants of the world are born.

Your dead will come to life,
their corpses will rise;
awake, exult,
all you who lie in the dust,
for your dew is a radiant dew
and the land of ghosts will give birth.

____________________

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

___________________

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

You have probably heard the above sentence countless times. Do you believe it? Do you believe that God gives rest to you who are burdened and tired? I never believed this statement because I was looking for rest which would last forever. I was waiting for the day to come where I no longer had to go through any pain or suffering.

However, as we read in today’s first reading, there will be pain and crying while we are on this earth because the process of being purified and molded in Jesus image is a difficult and painful one. It is a process that requires us to surrender our own selfish desires, our bitterness with people who have hurt us, our complaints about any injustice that has been afflicted on us, and so much more – it is a process that requires us to surrender ourselves.

Surrendering ourselves and everything that is comfortable and familiar to us (including our bitterness and anger) is a difficult process and it will entail pain, suffering, tears, and agony – similar to that of a woman who is about to give birth. However, it is precisely during these moments of suffering that we must bear our crosses and hold on to Jesus. After all, if a woman who is about to give birth gives up during the birth process, she will certainly not receive the joy and fruits that comes with the birth of her child.

Nonetheless, even though we who dare to take this difficult journey of purification will suffer, Jesus promises to give rest to those who are weary. It may not be the eternal rest we are looking for – that will come when we have completed our journey on earth – but it is a rest that would bring stillness to our souls, rejuvenate us, and provides us with the added strength we need to continue on our journey. It is a rest that can be experienced whenever we ask for it at Confession, Eucharistic Adoration, a prayer with someone, or even a prayer on our own.

Assured by Jesus who promises to give us rest whenever we ask for it, let us “persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrew 12:1-2). For we know that when this race is completed, we will experience heavenly joy and rewards that are beyond our earthly ‘treasures’.

(Today’s reflection by Jean Cheng)
___________

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me to find meaning, hope, joy, and purpose in carrying my cross. 

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the rest you quietly give me whenever I feel too weary to continue on my journey.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
18 Jul, Fri – Isaiah 38:1-8, 21-22 Matthew 12:1-8
19 Jul, Sat – Micah 2:1-5 Matthew 12:14-21
20 Jul, Sun – Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 Romans 8:26-27, Matthew 13:24-43- Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Wednesday, July 16 – Becoming Childlike

16 July – Wednesday in the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time; Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Church celebrates on this day the feast of the Scapular of Mount Carmel. The scapular, which derives its name from the Latin word scapulæ, meaning shoulders, is a dress which covers the shoulders. It is best known among as the name of two little pieces of cloth worn out of devotion to the Blessed Virgin over the shoulders, under the ordinary garb, and connected by strings. The devotion of the scapular began with the Carmelites. During the thirteenth century the Carmelite Order suffered great persecution, and on 16 July 1251, while Saint Simon Stock, then general of the Order, was at prayer, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, holding in her hand a scapular. Giving it to the saint, she said,

“Receive, my dear son, this scapular of thy Order, as the distinctive sign of my confraternity, and the mark of the privilege which I have obtained for thee and the children of Carmel. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in danger, and a special pledge of peace and protection till the end of time. Whosoever wearing this shall be preserved from eternal flames.”

____________________

Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16

Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger,
the club brandished by me in my fury!
I sent him against a godless nation;
I gave him commission against a people that provokes me,
to pillage and to plunder freely
and to stamp down like the mud in the streets.
But he did not intend this,
his heart did not plan it so.
No, in his heart was to destroy,
to go on cutting nations to pieces without limit.

For he has said:
‘By the strength of my own arm I have done this
and by my own intelligence, for understanding is mine;
I have pushed back the frontiers of peoples
and plundered their treasures.
I have brought their inhabitants down to the dust.
As if they were a bird’s nest, my hand has seized
the riches of the peoples.
As people pick up deserted eggs
I have picked up the whole earth,
with not a wing fluttering,
not a beak opening, not a chirp.’

Does the axe claim more credit than the man who wields it,
or the saw more strength than the man who handles it?
It would be like the cudgel controlling the man who raises it,
or the club moving what is not made of wood!
And so the Lord of Hosts is going to send
a wasting sickness on his stout warriors;
beneath his plenty, a burning will burn
like a consuming fire.

____________________

Matthew 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of 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 no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’

____________________

You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.

Jesus frequently speaks of the beauty of having a childlike faith. However, what does it mean to have a childlike faith? Does it mean that we must become more immature, more ignorant, and behave like children? Sometimes, it seems as though God is out there to make things difficult for us. We are grown-ups, why does God seem to ask us to revert back to our childhood selves?

No, God is not asking us to literally become children once more. We were meant to become adults and to grow in our maturity and wisdom. God is not out there to make things difficult for us. Nonetheless, while we grow in experiences, wisdom and maturity, God is also asking us to grow in our childlikeness for this trait does not have to contradict our ‘adult-ways’. Childlikeness simply refers to a simple trust, an open heart, and the humility to learn from others (and even God himself).

Such traits are often associated with children for they are unafraid to admit what they do not understand and are often quick to ask, “Why”, because they wish to learn and to grow. Unfortunately, as adults, we tend to be more afraid to show our weaknesses. We hate admitting that we do not know the solution to the problem and are afraid of asking for enlightenment because we do not wish to appear incompetent. As a result, we learn and grow at a much slower rate than children. 

However, Jesus reminds us today that God is only able to reveal Himself, His truth and His wisdom to those who are childlike because only such people are open to receive Him. Let us, therefore, learn to humble ourselves and to cultivate an open heart so that we may grow in the wisdom, beauty and image of the one who is far wiser and greater than us.

(Today’s reflection by Jean Cheng)
___________

Prayer: Holy Spirit, forgive me for my pride and ignorance. Help me to grow in humility and openness to your teachings.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to a God whose wisdom is far more superior to anyone on earth.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
17 Jul, Thu – Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19 Matthew 11:28-30
18 Jul, Fri – Isaiah 38:1-8, 21-22 Matthew 12:1-8
19 Jul, Sat – Micah 2:1-5 Matthew 12:14-21
20 Jul, Sun – Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 Romans 8:26-27, Matthew 13:24-43- Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________

Tuesday, 15 July – Which path would you choose?

13 July – Tuesday in the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

____________________

Isaiah 7:1-9

In the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Razon the king of Aram went up against Jerusalem with Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, to lay siege to it; but he was unable to capture it.

The news was brought to the House of David. ‘Aram’ they said ‘has reached Ephraim.’ Then the heart of the king and the hearts of the people shuddered as the trees of the forest shudder in front of the wind. The Lord said to Isaiah, ‘Go with your son Shear-jashub, and meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the Fuller’s Field road, and say to him:

“Pay attention, keep calm, have no fear,
do not let your heart sink
because of these two smouldering stumps of firebrands,
or because Aram, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah
have plotted to ruin you, and have said:
Let us invade Judah and terrorise it
and seize it for ourselves,
and set up a king there,
the son of Tabeel.
The Lord says this:
It shall not come true; it shall not be.
The capital of Aram is Damascus,
the head of Damascus, Razon;
the capital of Ephraim, Samaria,
the head of Samaria, the son of Remaliah.
Six or five years more
and a shattered Ephraim shall no longer be a people.
But if you do not stand by me,
you will not stand at all.”’

____________________

Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent.

‘Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you. And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven? You shall be thrown down to hell. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom on Judgement day as with you.’

____________________

But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.

I once told people that I didn’t want to know God very well because if I did, I would be judged at a higher standard than those who didn’t know God. In those days (and during weaker moments), I wished that I was more ignorant of who God was, what the moral standards were, and what His commandments were. To me, the lesser I knew, the lesser I would be judged by. It sounded like the perfect excuse to live life ‘freely’ and recklessly.

However, there must be something about being close to God that makes His faithful ones hold on to Him. After all, following God is not easy. Many times, our human weaknesses tempt us to go in ways which contradict His ways. In times like these, it is never easy to surrender our will to God. What is it about God, then, that makes His faithful children hold firmly on to Him?

I believe that what draws people to God is that He is truth and He delivers whatever He promises. He never lies or makes empty promises. He doesn’t even pretend that His ways are easy! Instead, He reminds us that His followers will have crosses to bear. Nonetheless, He promises that those who succeed in bearing their crosses would ultimately receive true freedom, a hope, a future, peace, joy, love, and everything we need – not just in Heaven but on earth.

Before us lie two paths: the path the world offers and the path God offers. Either way, suffering is involved. However, the type of suffering is different for suffering associated with God is a fruitful (a form of sweet pain, if you will), whereas suffering associated with the world is empty (it will quietly eat our spirit, hopes, and life away).

So do we choose the more difficult, but 100% guaranteed path that would lead to freedom, joy, peace, love, and all that we desire? Or do we choose the easier path of self-indulgence that is 100% guaranteed to leave us emptier, uglier, and less fulfilled? Which would you choose?

(Today’s reflection by Jean Cheng)
___________

Prayer: Lord, help us to choose the path that brings us life everyday.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for sending us His Holy Spirit to strengthen us, nourish us, and encourage us in difficult times.

____________________
Upcoming readings:
16 Jul, Wed – Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16 Matthew 11:25-27
17 Jul, Thu – Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19 Matthew 11:28-30
18 Jul, Fri – Isaiah 38:1-8, 21-22 Matthew 12:1-8
19 Jul, Sat – Micah 2:1-5 Matthew 12:14-21
20 Jul, Sun – Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 Romans 8:26-27, Matthew 13:24-43- Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
____________________
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
____________________