Monthly Archives: April 2011

Saturday, 30 Apr – We Live To Proclaim

30 Apr – Saturday within Easter Octave
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Acts of the Apostles 4:13-21

The rulers, elders and scribes were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen; and they recognised them as associates of Jesus; but when they saw the man who had been cured standing by their side, they could find no answer. So they ordered them to stand outside while the Sanhedrin had a private discussion. ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘It is obvious to everybody in Jerusalem that a miracle has been worked through them in public, and we cannot deny it. But to stop the whole thing spreading any further among the people, let us caution them never to speak to anyone in this name again.’

So they called them in and gave them a warning on no account to make statements or to teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John retorted, ‘You must judge whether in God’s eyes it is right to listen to you and not to God. We cannot promise to stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard.’ The court repeated the warnings and then released them; they could not think of any way to punish them, since all the people were giving glory to God for what had happened.
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Mark 16:9-15

Having risen in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus appeared first to Mary of Magdala from whom he had cast out seven devils. She then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them. But they did not believe her when they heard her say that he was alive and that she had seen him.

After this, he showed himself under another form to two of them as they were on their way into the country. These went back and told the others, who did not believe them either.

Lastly, he showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.’
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He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen

I have encountered people who are empiricists i.e. people who refuse to believe the testimony of any individual until they have seen with their own five senses the actual evidence relevant to the issue at hand. We read in the readings of today that this is not possible for us as Christians because Jesus himself reprimanded the apostles for failing to believe in the testimony of those who had seen him.

I believe that this state of incredulity stems from a shallow faith foundation. We call ourselves Christians yet we do not bother to find out more about the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ or what the Church teaches us regarding issues in the modern world. It is inexcusable in this modern age that we do not have any means to find out the necessary information and to interpret the meaning behind the information. However knowledge is not the only thing that we need but it also entails an emotional response.

Our hearts must be receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and for us to discover what it means to be called children of God. The combined response of the heart and the head will definitely save us a severe reprimand from God on the day of our judgement. Furthermore it will allow us to go about doing the command of Jesus to proclaim the Good News wherever we go through our actions and word.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord let us be willing to listen to your voice

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who hold and teach the Catholic Faith

Upcoming Readings:
Sun, 01 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Revelations 1.9-13.17-19; John 20:19-31; Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Friday, 29 Apr – Quiet Encounter

29 Apr – Friday within Easter Octave
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Acts of the Apostles 4:1-12

While Peter and John were talking to the people the priests came up to them, accompanied by the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees. They were extremely annoyed at their teaching the people the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead by proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. They arrested them, but as it was already late, they held them till the next day. But many of those who had listened to their message became believers, the total number of whom had now risen to something like five thousand.

The next day the rulers, elders and scribes had a meeting in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, Jonathan, Alexander and all the members of the high-priestly families. They made the prisoners stand in the middle and began to interrogate them, ‘By what power, and by whose name have you men done this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy, here in your presence, today. This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’
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John 21:1-14

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.
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It is the Lord

There is a saying that goes that sometimes love is an action and not a speech. The simplest of phrases will enable an individual to discover the true meaning of the emotion that is meant to be conveyed. In the same way, the readings of today allow us to discover that sometimes it is the simplest of phrases that best express our feelings.

Peter was bold enough to testify to his interrogators who were annoyed with him. What was the key message of his speech? That Jesus was Lord and that He is risen. I am certain that Peter came to that conclusion by hearing that same phrase uttered by St John at the fishing trip as recounted in the Gospel passage. Our role as Christians must be like that of Peter; we must share the joy of the Risen Lord with all around us through our actions and words. We can only do so only when we have an intimate encounter with Jesus through prayer.

Participating in the official prayers of the Church such as attending Mass and praying the Liturgy of the Hours is to be encouraged but we need to enter into our own personal prayer and encounter Jesus in quiet meditation. Only then can we truly encounter Jesus and experience the warmth and peace of the victory over sin that the Risen Lord has claimed for us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord let us remember that it is you that we serve.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people who teach Christian meditation.

Upcoming Readings:
Sat, 30 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:13-21; Mark 16:9-15; Saturday within Easter Octave
Sun, 01 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Revelations 1.9-13.17-19; John 20:19-31; Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Thursday, 28 Apr – Diminished Responsibility

28 Apr – Thursday within Easter Octave
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Acts of the Apostles 3:11-26

Everyone came running towards Peter and John in great excitement, to the Portico of Solomon, as it is called, where the man was still clinging to Peter and John. When Peter saw the people he addressed them, ‘Why are you so surprised at this? Why are you staring at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or holiness? You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses; and it is the name of Jesus which, through our faith in it, has brought back the strength of this man whom you see here and who is well known to you. It is faith in that name that has restored this man to health, as you can all see.

‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and so that the Lord may send the time of comfort. Then he will send you the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus, whom heaven must keep till the universal restoration comes which God proclaimed, speaking through his holy prophets. Moses, for example, said: The Lord God will raise up a prophet like myself for you, from among your own brothers; you must listen to whatever he tells you. The man who does not listen to that prophet is to be cut off from the people. In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days.

‘You are the heirs of the prophets, the heirs of the covenant God made with our ancestors when he told Abraham: in your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed. It was for you in the first place that God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.’
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Luke 24:35-48

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.
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Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing

One of the factors that determine whether an act of killing counts as murder is the intent behind the action. If the person that carries out had the full desire and intent to kill the person, it is counted as murder. As long as doubt can be cast on this point, the charge can be amended to a lesser one. In the same way, we read how St Peter reminds the Jews that what they did on Good Friday was not their fault but it would be a sin if they continued in their mis-guided ways and refusing to acknowledge that Jesus was the messiah.

On certain occasions in our daily lives, we do things that with the benefit of hindsight we discover that we should not have done. We learn from this experience and resolve not to do it again. This is exactly what Jesus had to do with his disciples. They had ran away when he was captured on the night of Holy Thursday. He had to instruct them that their actions were predicted since from times in the past. Only after they had received instruction could they become people who were fully aware of their time in the course of history and remind others not to go along the way-ward path.

Some say that too much information is a bad thing but I believe that this does not apply in the case of our faith. By discovering more of what God’s precepts for us, we begin to discover the joy of living as a child of God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord, let us discover what it means to love you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the neophytes in our Church.

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, 29 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:1-12; John 21:1-14; Friday within Easter Octave
Sat, 30 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:13-21; Mark 16:9-15; Saturday within Easter Octave
Sun, 01 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Revelations 1.9-13.17-19; John 20:19-31; Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Wednesday, 27 Apr – Eyes Of Faith

27 Apr – Wednesday within Easter Octave
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Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10

Once, when Peter and John were going up to the Temple for the prayers at the ninth hour, it happened that there was a man being carried past. He was a cripple from birth; and they used to put him down every day near the Temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate so that he could beg from the people going in. When this man saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple he begged from them. Both Peter and John looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us.’ He turned to them expectantly, hoping to get something from them, but Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’ Peter then took him by the hand and helped him to stand up. Instantly his feet and ankles became firm, he jumped up, stood, and began to walk, and he went with them into the Temple, walking and jumping and praising God. Everyone could see him walking and praising God, and they recognised him as the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. They were all astonished and unable to explain what had happened to him.
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Luke 24:13-35

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
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Look at us

One of the tips that have been shared to interviewees whenever they meet the hiring manager is to look at the person in the eye and demonstrate a genuine awareness of the person’s point and identify possible nuances in what the interviewer is trying to get at. The main characters of the readings of today failed to use their eyes to discover that God was right in their presence.

The crippled man that we read in the first reading of today was too distracted with the matters of the world, i.e. begging for alms that he did not realise that matters of the spirit were far more important. Peter and John wanted to help him discover God’s love and this took the form of the physical healing of his deformity. The same happened for the two disciples on their way to Emmaus; their journey arose because they had lost hope in the cause of Jesus. They thought that the physical death of Jesus meant the end of their belief. They were going back to busy themselves with the ways of the world. They were so blinded by their earthly pre-occupations that they could not recognise Jesus until the breaking of the bread.

It is the same for us in the world of today where emails chase us to the remotest part of the world. The season for Easter may be perceived by others as a time to relax the harsh penances they have imposed on themselves during the season of Lent. They have focused on the external acts without realising that it is the internal discipline that mattered. The Risen Lord is present in our midst but we fail to recognise Him in the midst of our fast-paced life.

Do we see the Lord in the lives of our colleagues whom we interact with or in the faces of our family members that we live with? Let us discover the face of the Lord in the lives of others by asking God to grant us eyes of faith to look at the people around us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to see you in the people around us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who bring God’s love to the people whom they meet.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 28 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 3:11-26; Luke 24:35-48; Thursday within Easter Octave
Fri, 29 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:1-12; John 21:1-14; Friday within Easter Octave
Sat, 30 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:13-21; Mark 16:9-15; Saturday within Easter Octave
Sun, 01 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Revelations 1.9-13.17-19; John 20:19-31; Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Tuesday, 26 Apr – The Call

26 Apr – Tuesday within Easter Octave
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Acts of the Apostles 2:36-41

On the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to the Jews: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’

Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.
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John 20:11-18

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.
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As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him.

I have always been amazed at how parents can recognize the voice of their children in crowded settings and their immediate response to the child’s cry of help. They can also zoom in to the location where the child is likely to be found. We find in today’s readings that very often the ears of faith need to be opened by just that one call from God.

The people of Israel were touched by St Peter’s exhortations on their sins and how they should convert to the way of Christianity to demonstrate repentance for their actions. Mary Magdalene could not recognise Risen Lord and mistook him for the gardener until the Lord had called on her. It is the same in our lives where we fail to carry out the will of God until we hear His voice calling us. We can only hear this call only if we have cultivated a life of prayer and discover the silent prompting that God calls us.

Cultivating a life of prayer is not an overnight task but rather an endeavour that will eventually be the centre of our life. It is not a superficial recitation of prayers but really a heart to heart encounter found usually when we are placed in a silent environment. When we love an individual totally, we will go all out to strengthen our relationship with our Beloved. In the same way prayer allows us to deepen this relationship with God that allows us to discover the depth and breadth of God’s love for us.

As we go about our daily lives, I ask that you take some time now to stop whatever you are doing and ask yourself what you have done to ensure that your relationship with God is alive. Prayer keeps our relationship with God alive and fresh for us to continue to spread His love to the people around us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord, we love you. Help us when we fall short of the love you have shown us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the love that you have shown us by dying on the Cross for us.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 27 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10; Luke 24:13-35; Wednesday within Easter Octave
Thu, 28 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 3:11-26; Luke 24:35-48; Thursday within Easter Octave
Fri, 29 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:1-12; John 21:1-14; Friday within Easter Octave
Sat, 30 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:13-21; Mark 16:9-15; Saturday within Easter Octave
Sun, 01 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Revelations 1.9-13.17-19; John 20:19-31; Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Monday, 25 Apr – Permanent Solution

25 Apr – Monday within Easter Octave

Dear readers,

Christmas and Easter are the two most celebrated feast days in the Church calendar. Both feast days symbolise, for the Christian, new life. Christ was born on Christmas, and rose from the dead on Easter. In OXYGEN, we celebrate these two feasts with new life as well. As is customary in the history of OXYGEN’s 10 years of existence, we invite volunteers to write reflections on these feast days. Sometimes these writers end up contributing regular reflections and become part of the team.

Yesterday, we had a reflection from a new writer with the team. Cassandra Felicia Cheong is a worship leader in her parish’s charismatic prayer group. She has led mass worship sessions such as on the archdiocesan youth day. She has recently switched careers from being a state prosecutor to becoming a teacher in a private school. We hoped you enjoyed her first reflection for OXYGEN. She hopes to become a regular contributor in the near future. Please give her your support.

On behalf of the OXYGEN team of writers, I wish you all a blessed Easter, and may new life spring forth from within you!

Peace,
Daniel
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Acts 2:14.22-33

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.
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Matthew 28:8-15

Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’

While they were on their way, some of the guard went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened. These held a meeting with the elders and, after some discussion, handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, ‘This is what you must say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” And should the governor come to hear of this, we undertake to put things right with him ourselves and to see that you do not get into trouble.’ The soldiers took the money and carried out their instructions, and to this day that is the story among the Jews.
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You killed him but God raised him to life

There are times where we often seek for a permanent solution to resolve the issues that plague us; be it in terms of a surgical procedure to cure a particular ailment or a strategy to handle the complexity of an administrative matter that is placed before us. In the same way the Jews thought that the death of Jesus would bring about a return of the status quo where the chief priests and Pharisees were the authorities in the faith. Yet to their horror, the apostles continued the work that Jesus had commanded them to do and were willing to put the mission ahead of their lives.

Our lives as Christians must not be perceived as that of a comfortable life. The joy and glory of the Resurrection was preceded by the blood and gore of the Crucifixion. As we begin the octave of Easter, perhaps it would be good for us to take a step back to think on what we have done during the season of Lent. The works of prayers, fasting and almsgiving are not to be done for their own sake but for us to discover that there is joy in giving sacrifice. These works are not a permanent solution but a means to achieve the eternal happiness that we as people of the Resurrection are called to live.

The joy of this Easter season should not hamper us from continuing to do the good works that God has asked us to do. Instead we should continue to share with all around us the joy that we can bring about to the lives of others through the good works that will bring about the joy of the Risen Lord to all around us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord, let us always follow you with a lively faith

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all individuals involved in social work.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 26 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 2:36-41; John 20:11-18; Tuesday within Easter Octave
Wed, 27 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10; Luke 24:13-35; Wednesday within Easter Octave
Thu, 28 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 3:11-26; Luke 24:35-48; Thursday within Easter Octave
Fri, 29 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:1-12; John 21:1-14; Friday within Easter Octave
Sat, 30 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:13-21; Mark 16:9-15; Saturday within Easter Octave
Sun, 01 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Revelations 1.9-13.17-19; John 20:19-31; Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Sunday, 24 Apr – Eat And Drink With The Lord

24 Apr – Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Mass during the Day)

Alleluia!
This Mass is our Alleluia; our song of praise to the risen Christ who is our life and whose triumph over death we proclaim to all the world.

– The Sunday Missal
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Acts 10:34.37-43

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
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Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
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John 20:1-9

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.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
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We have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead

After a broken relationship two years ago, I found it hard to move on. I was emotionally broken inside, filled with rejection and wondering how I would ever move on from the loss. Then, a friend of mine prayed for me and handed me a verse:

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

As difficult as it was for me then to visualise and accept God’s word for me,  I clung onto it, despite my doubts and uncertainties about my future, and struggled to believe in God’s promise for me. The days and months that ensued were challenging. Often, feelings of despair, isolation and helplessness would overwhelm me whenever I recalled my problems and failings.

However, it was precisely during these times of doubt that I decided to take the plunge of faith and remind myself of God’s promise to me. Clueless as I was, I found strength and comfort in the fact that at least someone up there had a plan. Within the next two years, I was blessed with a new role, a promotion and a pay increment.

I was also blessed with the company of new friends and the comfort of old ones. I found new relationships with long lost family members and developed closer ties with some. In my emptiness, God filled me with his goodness. Yet, from time to time, despite the tangible blessings of God in my life, my voice of doubt would still draw my attention, like a familiar scar on my arm.

In today’s Gospel, we see the reactions of the first few witnesses upon discovering Jesus’ missing body from the tomb. Like Mary, many of us are limited by what we see with our eyes and perceive with our minds. We are also limited by our years of earthly experience – repeated hurts, constant failures and ongoing disappointments.

Battered, weary, scarred and bruised, we have grown to become jaded and too familiar with our human limitations that we find it risky and difficult to believe in a risen Lord who promises us a future beyond our expectations. Like Mary, we think that Jesus’ body has been taken and we find it hard to believe that he is truly risen. We search for a Jesus whom we are uncertain has the power to transform our lives.

We’re like the disciples who had expected a glorious king but ended up seeing him crucified. Now that his body is missing, “Did someone steal it?” we think.

Yet, the truth remains.

Jesus is alive.

Regardless of what you or I think – He is risen. And He is Lord. The empty tomb remains. Ask the disciples. They have feasted with him and that is their evidence of him. The question is: what would it take for us to believe? Eating and drinking with him?

If so, then I invite you to take a plunge of faith – by taking any circumstances that you may find humanly impossible for you to handle and giving it to Jesus. For instance, are there any circumstances that you are curently facing which you cannot see any hope beyond? Are there any dilemmas and problems that you have or anxieties which are weighing you down? How about an outcome that is beyond your control or a difficult decision that you’re unable to make?  Tell it to Jesus and he will come and dine with you – not just for one meal, but for every meal. You can be certain that your life with change then. Are you ready to let him in? If you are, expect to encounter the power of the risen Lord in your life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
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Prayer: We pray for those who are in need of the power of the risen Lord in their lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for only He has the power to transform our lives.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 25 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 2:24.22-33; Matthew 28:8-15; Monday within Easter Octave
Tue, 26 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 2:36-41; John 20:11-18; Tuesday within Easter Octave
Wed, 27 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10; Luke 24:13-35; Wednesday within Easter Octave
Thu, 28 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 3:11-26; Luke 24:35-48; Thursday within Easter Octave
Fri, 29 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:1-12; John 21:1-14; Friday within Easter Octave
Sat, 30 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 4:13-21; Mark 16:9-15; Saturday within Easter Octave
Sun, 01 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Revelations 1.9-13.17-19; John 20:19-31; Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Saturday, 23 Apr – Knowing Our Future By Learning From Our Past

23 Apr – Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Vigil Mass)

In accord with ancient tradition, this night is one of vigil for the Lord. The Gospel of Luke is a reminder to the faithful to have their lamps burning ready, to be like men awaiting their master’s return, so that when he arrives he will find them wide awake and seat them at his table.

– The Sunday Missal

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, today’s OXYGEN consists of nine short reflections on each of the readings for the Vigil Mass. We invite you to visit http://www.universalis.com/20110423/mass.htm for the readings proper.
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Genesis 1:1 – 2:2

In the first reading, we hear the tale of the creation of the Earth. Of course no one was around when God created the Earth, and the story is told after much reflection on how the world came to be what it is today. Many of the descriptions were added to explain why things are the way they are today. It is only by looking back that we can understand why some things happened the way they did, so as to bring us to where we are today.

Genesis 22:1-18

In the second reading, Abraham, the historical man of faith, places all his trust in the Lord. Abraham offers his only son as a sacrifice to the Lord. He did this without question, without wondering what was in God’s mind, and for that faith he was rewarded. As we look back on his act of faith, we can see, in hindsight, how God was testing him. It is only by looking back that we can understand why this happened the way it did, so as to bring us to where we are today

Exodus 14:15 – 15:1

This passage always makes people ask the question: If God is good, why did He make the Egyptians hearts so stubborn that it would lead to their death? The question is misleading because it does not take into account who wrote this passage and what context it is written in. It is written in the context of the Israelites for whom God is in control of everything, even the hearts of men. And for the Israelites at the point of this writing, God is always on their side, bringing them to victory always. Now we know that is not always true, not in the way the Israelites used to think. It is only by looking back that we can understand why this passage was written the way it is, and why the Israelites thought the way they did.

Isaiah 54:5-14

In this passage from Isaiah, we see the Lord seemingly lowers Himself from the role of the almighty Creator to one that would be the husband of His wife Israel. This change of relationship that God had with His Israel must have seemed weird and foreign to the Israelites. It is only in light of what we are celebrating tonight that we can come into a fuller understanding of God’s intention at that time.

Isaiah 55:1-11

This prophecy from Isaiah holds much meaning, especially in the context of tonight’s celebration. As we go through the history of the relationship between God and His people, we gradually see God’s plan unfold. In this passage, God, through Isaiah, speaks of the future – our past – that was to come. He speaks of the spring of everlasting water, the feast of the Kingdom of Heaven, the everlasting covenant that He would make through His Word. At that time, the people would probably not have understood this prophecy, but it was a promise that they held on to. We know they did, because we have record of this promise. If it were not remembered, it would not have been written down. It is only when people looked back after the event took place, could they make sense of the prophecy as God intended.

Baruch 3:9-15.32 – 4:4

This was written in a time when Israel had strayed from the Law that God gave them. It was a time the Israelites lived in exile in a foreign land because of their past mistakes. It was a time of soul-searching, to discover how they have strayed from the path that God set for them. When they were straying, they took no notice of the Prophets that God sent them. But after straying and seeing its effects, they realised their mistakes. We hardly ever realise our mistakes when we make them, but only on hindsight. It is this power of hindsight that we celebrate today, as we reflect on the relationship between God and His people, bringing us to where we are today.

Ezekiel 36:16-28

In this passage, God hits the reset button. He realises that His people were not yet ready to have the kind of relationship He wanted to have with them. So He hits the reset button and re-establishes the original relationship that He had with His people, using the words “You shall be my people, and I shall be your God”, a phrase that was repeated many times in the book of Deuteronomy, when God first established the kind of relationship that He wanted to have with His people. It is in this setting that we see God try again to form the real relationship He wants to have with us.

Romans 6:3-11

Skipping forward, we moved to where St. Paul writes to the Roman church and explains to them the meaning of the baptism we receive. This is to enable us to share fully in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ; this enables us to become one with Christ, joined with God in the kind of relationship that God has always intended us to have with Him – a life of unity with God. And this is how He achieved it.

Matthew 28:1-10

What year are we now in? Ask anyone that question and 99% will answer: 2011. Why 2011? Why 2011 years? 2011 years since what? What happened 2011 years ago that we measure time by it? A world-changing event took place. This is the world-changing event that we celebrate tonight: The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, from death into life. It is this event that changed the world so much so that we measure the passing of time by it. It is only when we look back into the past that we can understand why things took place the way they did, to bring us where we are today.
In order to know the future, we must study our past.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
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Prayer: We pray for all Christians who are lost in the world because they do not know where they have been.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for being the light that shines in our world.

Upcoming Readings:
Sun, 24 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 10:34.37;43; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9 or Matthew 28:1-10; Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Mass during the Day)

Friday, 22 Apr – Winning The Argument, Losing The Case

22 Apr – Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

In this celebration of the passion and death of the Lord, we listen to the words of scripture and strive to understand the true meaning of his sufferings and the mind that was in him. We pray with his spirit for the needs of the whole world. We worship the cross as the symbol of his triumph. Finally, we enter into sacramental communion with him who is our Saviour and our Life.

– The Sunday Missal
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Isaiah 52:13-53:12

See, my servant will prosper,
he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.
As the crowds were appalled on seeing him
– so disfigured did he look
that he seemed no longer human –
so will the crowds be astonished at him,
and kings stand speechless before him;
for they shall see something never told
and witness something never heard before:
‘Who could believe what we have heard,
and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’

Like a sapling he grew up in front of us,
like a root in arid ground.
Without beauty, without majesty we saw him,
no looks to attract our eyes;
a thing despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering,
a man to make people screen their faces;
he was despised and we took no account of him.

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore,
ours the sorrows he carried.
But we, we thought of him as someone punished,
struck by God, and brought low.
Yet he was pierced through for our faults,
crushed for our sins.
On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep,
each taking his own way,
and the Lord burdened him
with the sins of all of us.
Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly,
he never opened his mouth,
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers
never opening its mouth.

By force and by law he was taken;
would anyone plead his cause?
Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living;
for our faults struck down in death.
They gave him a grave with the wicked,
a tomb with the rich,
though he had done no wrong
and there had been no perjury in his mouth.

The Lord has been pleased to crush him with suffering.
If he offers his life in atonement,
he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life
and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over
he shall see the light and be content.
By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,
taking their faults on himself.

Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute,
he shall divide the spoil with the mighty,
for surrendering himself to death
and letting himself be taken for a sinner,
while he was bearing the faults of many
and praying all the time for sinners.
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Hebrews 4:14-16;5:7-9

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.
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John 18:1-19:42

Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kedron valley. There was a garden there, and he went into it with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place well, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, and he brought the cohort to this place together with a detachment of guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was going to happen to him, Jesus then came forward and said, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They answered, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said, ‘I am he.’ Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said, ‘I am he’, they moved back and fell to the ground. He asked them a second time, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ ‘I have told you that I am he,’ replied Jesus. ‘If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go.’ This was to fulfil the words he had spoken, ‘Not one of those you gave me have I lost.’

Simon Peter, who carried a sword, drew it and wounded the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’

The cohort and its captain and the Jewish guards seized Jesus and bound him. They took him first to Annas, because Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had suggested to the Jews, ‘It is better for one man to die for the people.’

Simon Peter, with another disciple, followed Jesus. This disciple, who was known to the high priest, went with Jesus into the high priest’s palace, but Peter stayed outside the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who was keeping the door and brought Peter in. The maid on duty at the door said to Peter, ‘Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?’ He answered, ‘I am not.’ Now it was cold, and the servants and guards had lit a charcoal fire and were standing there warming themselves; so Peter stood there too, warming himself with the others.

The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly for all the world to hear; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple where all the Jews meet together: I have said nothing in secret. But why ask me? Ask my hearers what I taught: they know what I said.’ At these words, one of the guards standing by gave Jesus a slap in the face, saying, ‘Is that the way to answer the high priest?’ Jesus replied, ‘If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offence in it, why do you strike me?’ Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.

As Simon Peter stood there warming himself, someone said to him, ‘Aren’t you another of his disciples?’ He denied it saying, ‘I am not.’ One of the high priest’s servants, a relation of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, ‘Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it; and at once a cock crew.

They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was now morning. They did not go into the Praetorium themselves or they would be defiled and unable to eat the passover. So Pilate came outside to them and said, ‘What charge do you bring against this man?’ They replied, ‘If he were not a criminal, we should not be handing him over to you.’ Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves, and try him by your own Law.’ The Jews answered, ‘We are not allowed to put a man to death.’ This was to fulfil the words Jesus had spoken indicating the way he was going to die.

So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and called Jesus to him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ he asked. Jesus replied, ‘Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?’ Jesus replied, ‘Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.’ ‘So you are a king then?’ said Pilate. ‘It is you who say it’ answered Jesus. ‘Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.’ ‘Truth?’ said Pilate ‘What is that?’; and with that he went out again to the Jews and said, ‘I find no case against him. But according to a custom of yours I should release one prisoner at the Passover; would you like me, then, to release the king of the Jews?’ At this they shouted: ‘Not this man,’ they said ‘but Barabbas.’ Barabbas was a brigand.

Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him and saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’; and they slapped him in the face.

Pilate came outside again and said to them, ‘Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case.’ Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said, ‘Here is the man.’ When they saw him the chief priests and the guards shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him: I can find no case against him.’ ‘We have a Law,’ the Jews replied ‘and according to that Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

When Pilate heard them say this his fears increased. Re-entering the Praetorium, he said to Jesus, ‘Where do you come from?’ But Jesus made no answer. Pilate then said to him, ‘Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?’ ‘You would have no power over me’ replied Jesus ‘if it had not been given you from above; that is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt.’

From that moment Pilate was anxious to set him free, but the Jews shouted, ‘If you set him free you are no friend of Caesar’s; anyone who makes himself king is defying Caesar.’ Hearing these words, Pilate had Jesus brought out, and seated himself on the chair of judgement at a place called the Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbatha. It was Passover Preparation Day, about the sixth hour. ‘Here is your king’ said Pilate to the Jews. ‘Take him away, take him away!’ they said. ‘Crucify him!’ ‘Do you want me to crucify your king?’ said Pilate. The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king except Caesar.’ So in the end Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

They then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out of the city to the place of the skull or, as it was called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.’ This notice was read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city, and the writing was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. So the Jewish chief priests said to Pilate, ‘You should not write “King of the Jews,” but “This man said: I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’

When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another, ‘Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.’ In this way the words of scripture were fulfilled:

They shared out my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my clothes.

This is exactly what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son. Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.

After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said:

‘I am thirsty.’

A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar he said, ‘It is accomplished’; and bowing his head he gave up his spirit.

It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath – since that sabbath was a day of special solemnity – the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture:

Not one bone of his will be broken;

and again, in another place scripture says:

They will look on the one whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus – though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews – asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well – the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time – and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was near at hand, they laid Jesus there.
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I find no case against him

A few weeks ago, someone passed to me a column written by Father Ronald Rolheiser, who commented that many of the really angry, bitter and ideologically-driven people that he knew, he had met inside of church circles and places of ministry. He noted that within church circles, it sometimes seems that everyone is angry about something, and that it is so easy to rationalise our anger in the name of something good.

I quote from Rolheiser’s column: “The logic works this way: Because I am sincerely concerned about an important moral, ecclesial, or justice issue, I can excuse a certain amount of neurosis, anger, elitism, and negative judgement, because I can rationalise that my cause, dogmatic or moral, is so important that it justifies my mean spirit. I need to be this angry and harsh because this is such an important truth!”

Do you know anyone like that? I do, and in today’s readings, we see the result of such thinking and behaviour. It led to the crucifixion of Christ. I find it ironic that the only person who spoke with common sense was Pilate, a man who, as far as we know, wasn’t particularly religious.

Upholding our Church’s teachings can often lead us to becoming angry for a certain cause. In many countries, we hear anti-Christians speaking out about issues that have risen in societies. But when we hear the Christians speaking out against such issues, the Christians are no less filled with anger and hatred. You know what these issues are: GLBT rights, abortion, contraception, bioethics, cloning, IVF, divorce, euthanasia, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, these are indeed important issues, but of the many Christian advocates I have met, I have witnessed such hatred and anger. They say one thing, but they behave totally opposite. I used to be one such person, but now I’ve taken a step back from this craziness. For me, and I speak for me alone, such crazy behaviour does not make me a better Christian; it made me crucify Christ.

In financial planning, we have a saying: if you win an argument, but lose the client, you have lost the case. In the past, I found myself so focused on winning arguments that I must have turned many people away from Christianity, because my behaviour was far from Christian. The virtues of humility, gentleness, patience, peace, kindness, and goodness, all these were not present in me.

I will say one thing I have been saying: Whether a person joins or leaves the church, it is because of the behaviour of other Christians. As I now reflect, and I invite you to do so, I wonder: has my behaviour resulted in drawing more people to Christ or turned more people away from Christ? Have I been a Christian like Jesus Christ or have I been a Christ-crucifying Pharisee?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
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Prayer: We pray for Christians who are passionate about contentious issues, that in advocating these causes, they may always behave in a Christian way.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for all who behave with love and respect for others.

Upcoming Readings:
Sat, 23 Apr – Genesis 1:1 – 2:2; Genesis 22:1-18; Exodus 14:15 – 15:1; Isaiah 54:5-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15.32 – 4:4; Ezekiel 36:16-28; Romans 6:3-11; Matthew 28:1-10; Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Vigil Mass)
Sun, 24 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 10:34.37;43; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9 or Matthew 28:1-10; Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Mass during the Day)

Thursday, 21 Apr – Get It?

21 Apr – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Today we celebrate Christ’s twofold giving of himself:

To his enemies, to die on the cross for the life of the world. he is the paschal victim, whose blood saves his people.

To his friends and disciples, his Church – that is, to us – in the sacrament of his body and blood.

If we want to belong to Christ, we must follow his example of self-giving and of service – ‘washing one another’s feet’. We must be willing and ready to say with Christ, about our own selves:

‘This is my body which is given for you.’

– The Sunday Missal
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Exodus 12:1-8.11-14

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:

‘This month is to be the first of all the others for you, the first month of your year. Speak to the whole community of Israel and say, “On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock, one for each family: one animal for each household. If the household is too small to eat the animal, a man must join with his neighbour, the nearest to his house, as the number of persons requires. You must take into account what each can eat in deciding the number for the animal. It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old; you may take it from either sheep or goats. You must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel shall slaughter it between the two evenings. Some of the blood must then be taken and put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where it is eaten. That night, the flesh is to be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. You shall eat it hastily: it is a passover in honour of the Lord. That night, I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, man and beast alike, and I shall deal out punishment to all the gods of Egypt, I am the Lord! The blood shall serve to mark the houses that you live in. When I see the blood I will pass over you and you shall escape the destroying plague when I strike the land of Egypt. This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honour. For all generations you are to declare it a day of festival, for ever.”’
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1 Corinthians 11:23-26

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.
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John 13:1-15

It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.

They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter ‘not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are.’

When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’
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Do you understand what I have done to you?

We began this week reflecting on Jesus as a man of action, not mere words. In this morning’s reflection, I wrote about the priesthood and the kind of priest that Jesus was. In tonight’s readings, we look once more at these two salient points.
Tonight’s readings were chosen for a reason. The first reading was about the Jewish Passover, how it came to be, and how it continues to be. The second reading is the celebration of the Eucharistic meal, which alone makes no sense unless seen in the light of the Passover Meal. It is striking then that the gospel reading tells us not about either meal, but the meaning of the meal.

As Catholics, we already know that only an ordained priest may celebrate the Eucharistic meal. The gospel reading goes one step further to tell us that a priest is not simply one who celebrates the Eucharist, but one who serves the people like a servant.

Too often we hear of priests and bishops, even lay CEOs and managers in the corporate world, claiming to be servant in name, but in their action, behave as kings. On the contrary, Jesus in His words in tonight’s gospel reading, claimed not to be a servant, but to be Master and Lord. It is His actions which showed His servanthood.

The Lord’s meaning then is clear for us, His disciples: You can claim to be anything, but how you behave is ultimately how other people will judge you and your words. The Lord has given us an example to follow by His action. We are called to follow in His example of self-giving and self-sacrifice.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
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Prayer: We pray for those in positions of power and influence, that they may remember their call to be servants of those they lead.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for those who lead by service and example.

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, 22 Apr – Isaiah 52: 13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16;5:7-9; John 18:1-19.42; Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
Sat, 23 Apr – Genesis 1:1 – 2:2; Genesis 22:1-18; Exodus 14:15 – 15:1; Isaiah 54:5-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15.32 – 4:4; Ezekiel 36:16-28; Romans 6:3-11; Matthew 28:1-10; Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Vigil Mass)
Sun, 24 Apr – Acts of the Apostles 10:34.37;43; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9 or Matthew 28:1-10; Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Mass during the Day)