Monthly Archives: June 2011

Thursday, 30 Jun – Are You Ready?

30 Jun – Memorial for the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church

These holy men and women are also called the “Protomartyrs of Rome”. They were accused of burning Rome by Nero, who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, and others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called “disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles’ death”.

– http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=3385
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Genesis 22:1-19

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’

Rising early next morning Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and started on his journey to the place God had pointed out to him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there; we will worship and come back to you.’

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, loaded it on Isaac, and carried in his own hands the fire and the knife. Then the two of them set out together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham, ‘Father’ he said. ‘Yes, my son’ he replied. ‘Look,’ he said ‘here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘My son, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.’ Then the two of them went on together.

When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son. Abraham called this place ‘The Lord Provides’, and hence the saying today: On the mountain the Lord provides.

The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’

Abraham went back to his servants, and together they set out for Beersheba, and he settled in Beersheba.
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Matthew 9:1-8

Jesus got in the boat, crossed the water and came to his own town. Then some people appeared, bringing him a paralytic stretched out on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.’ And at this some scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ Knowing what was in their minds Jesus said, ‘Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts? Now, which of these is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘get up, and pick up your bed and go off home.’ And the man got up and went home. A feeling of awe came over the crowd when they saw this, and they praised God for giving such power to men.
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I am here

The call to the candidates for ordination to the different orders in the Sacrament of Holy Orders requires them to respond to the call to the rector who will present the candidate to the bishop. The candidate’s response of “I am here” is simple but in my opinion, a very powerful answer.

God calls us to carry out our Christians duties to love our enemies and do good to those who hurt us and yet sometimes we neglect to carry out these duties to the best of our abilities. In fact, sometimes we “cherry-pick” the tasks that God has asked us to do. This is certainly not something that we should follow but instead should also realize that it is all and everything that we need to accept in the Christian life .

We need to be ready to accept the instructions of God and follow His will. Being on “stand-by” and “idle” mode is unbecoming of a Christian; we need to have the courage and faith to accept the task that God has given to us to follow in our lives today.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord, we pray for those whom you have called to answer the vocation call to priesthood.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all seminarians

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, 01 Jul – Deuteronomy 7:6-11; 1 John 4:7-16; Mathew 11:25-30; Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sat, 02 Jul – Isaiah 61:9-11; Luke 2:41-51; Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sun, 03 Jul – Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9.11-13; Matthew 11:25-30; Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wednesday, 29 Jun – No Letting Down

29 Jun – Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Mass of the Day)

Peter (c.1–64) was a professional fisherman. He was the brother of St. Andrew the Apostle, the man who led him to Christ. Given the name Simon, he was renamed “Peter” (rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built. He later became a bishop and was the first pope. He was also a miracle worker.

Paul (c.3–c.65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted the Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus, Syria, to arrest another group of faithful, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting him, causing his conversion to Christianity.

He was baptized, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling, preaching, and teaching. His letters to the churches he help found form a large percentage of the New Testament. He knew and worked with many of the earliest saints and Fathers of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.

– Patron Saint Index
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Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11

King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.

On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. ‘Get up!’ he said ‘Hurry!’ – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, ‘Put on your belt and sandals.’ After he had done this, the angel next said, ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.’ Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. ‘Now I know it is all true’ he said. The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.’
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2 Timothy 4:6-8.17-18

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
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Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
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Rescue me from all evil attempts

I was told that I have plenty of positiveness in my attitude. Sometimes I wonder about it myself. Is my positive outlook motivated by my faith in the Lord, because He is watching over me and I believe He will rescue me from anything that will harm me; or am I just lackadaisical that nothing is of such great importance to be negative about? I do have many occasions where I could get into trouble and getting myself into really difficult situations but always getting out of it in with a rather peaceful solution. I just could not think of anything which was unmanageable. I surely must count my blessings and all is possible because of our Lord God who has His angels watch over me.

In today’s first reading, I have the impression of God freezing time, and the angel descended in front of Peter and led him out of prison. It seemed like an X-Men movie where the hero had come to save the scientist. Peter did not know at once that the rescue by the angel was in reality, but he obediently follows the angel because it was God sent. Peter was an outstanding apostle. He may have betrayed acknowledging Jesus when He was taken away, but Jesus sees his failures and his deep faith and knowledge in the Father. Peter’s faith grew a hundredfold since the moment he dropped his fishing net to follow Christ. He is a prominent Saint which headed the early Church, and the apostle succession has been passed to Pope Benedict XVI. The strong faith and leadership given upon by the Holy Spirit remained powerful throughout the years. As God watches over us on this secular world, He never lets us down and rescues us from all evil attempts.

If we look hard into our experiences with God, I am sure we could find many occasions when we have been rescued. As we look at the generosity of God and His powers, how can we reciprocate that love to our Father? SS Peter and Paul felt it so deeply in their hearts that they preach the Good News to the people. Do we have Peter’s faith? Do we see like the way Paul did, to know what are truths and evil temptations after a conversion? God is there for us, always reaching out that long arm, to hold on to us no matter how far we have drifted, calling us back; no matter how far we have fallen, and pulling us back up.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
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Prayer: Let us pray for all who have dropped out of the Church, may they let down their pride and be rescued by God, and build the faith with the community.

Thanksgiving: I will not let go of your long arm Lord, because I am in need of your help, and thank you for the times which You have got me out of troubles.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 30 Jun – Genesis 22:1-19; Matthew 9:1-8; Memorial for the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Fri, 01 Jul – Deuteronomy 7:6-11; 1 John 4:7-16; Mathew 11:25-30; Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sat, 02 Jul – Isaiah 61:9-11; Luke 2:41-51; Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sun, 03 Jul – Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9.11-13; Matthew 11:25-30; Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Tuesday, 28 Jun – Dare To Swear?

28 Jun – Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Vigil Mass)

Peter (c.1–64) was a professional fisherman. He was the brother of St. Andrew the Apostle, the man who led him to Christ. Given the name Simon, he was renamed “Peter” (rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built. He later became a bishop and was the first pope. He was also a miracle worker.

Paul (c.3–c.65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted the Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus, Syria, to arrest another group of faithful, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting him, causing his conversion to Christianity.

He was baptized, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling, preaching, and teaching. His letters to the churches he help found form a large percentage of the New Testament. He knew and worked with many of the earliest saints and Fathers of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.

– Patron Saint Index
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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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Galatians 1:11-20

The Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You must have heard of my career as a practising Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors.

Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the pagans. I did not stop to discuss this with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were already apostles before me, but I went off to Arabia at once and later went straight back from there to Damascus. Even when after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days, I did not see any of the other apostles; I only saw James, the brother of the Lord, and I swear before God that what I have written is the literal truth.
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John 21:15-19

Jesus showed himself to his disciples, and after they had eaten he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’
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I swear before God

Once I was being called up by my instructor who wanted to discuss an assignment with me. Basically, I misinterpreted the objective of the assignment and he wanted to clarify the work which I had done and why I had interpreted the way I did. We had to write a food menu with the appropriate headings and details to the dishes we came up with, and so I did. Towards the end of the discussion, he asked me, ‘Did you write these yourself?’ Without hesitation, I said yes. He asked me again the second time, I said yes. He asked me the third time, I said yes. He asked me the fourth time, I said, ‘Oh yes!’ Then he said he will look at my assignment again and marked accordingly to the way I had interpreted it. I believe he was checking on plagiarism and because I convinced him that I had written them myself, I need not do the assignment all over again. At the back of my mind, I thought, it must have been pretty well written such that he thought I copied it from some place.

Convincing someone of truth can be a very difficult task. It takes confidence, sincerity, the right tone of voice and commitment to bring the truth to others. Jesus, despite knowing what is the truth in the past and to come, still seeks the assurance He wanted from Peter, by asking Peter if he loves Him, three times. We are reminded of Peter the apostle and Paul the teacher to Gentiles, through God’s great conversion and Holy Spirit, are the early preachers of the Good News which spread from region to region. We do not say ‘I swear I am telling the truth’ when we speak and share our testimonials to others, if we do, we can even be accused of blasphemy.

In the first reading, Peter cured a crippled of his disabilities and was able to move his limbs like a normal person. The Spirit of God worked through him as he performed the miracle not to boast of himself, but to boast the powers of God to the people of Jerusalem. Paul in the second reading has written to the Galatians about his conversion and how the Lord knows everything from the very moment each one of us is conceived. These holy men speak in the name of God, their confidence and sincerity towards the other all came from God. Their love and trust in return for the Lord is immensely deep.

How confident are we to speak in the name of our Lord, of the things He had done for us and we confidently spread the Good News to others? The early teachers are not of much difference to us today either. Are we able to answer three ‘Yes’s to the Lord Jesus when He asks us? Will you drop everything and follow Him, to anywhere He brings you, providing you with the knowledge and speak with confidence like Peter and Paul, to swear before God?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
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Prayer: We are forever young in faith O Lord, guide us to mature in loving you just like your disciples Peter and Paul, and we may be the confident teacher to others.

Thanksgiving: Your choice is infallible Father, thank you for SS Peter and Paul, choosing one to be the rock of your Church, and the other a teacher to the non-chosen race, so I am able to call myself a Christian today.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 29 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8.17-18; Matthew 16:13-19; Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Mass of the Day)
Thu, 30 Jun – Genesis 22:1-19; Matthew 9:1-8; Memorial for the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Fri, 01 Jul – Deuteronomy 7:6-11; 1 John 4:7-16; Mathew 11:25-30; Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sat, 02 Jul – Isaiah 61:9-11; Luke 2:41-51; Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sun, 03 Jul – Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9.11-13; Matthew 11:25-30; Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Tuesday, 28 Jun – Man Of Little Faith

28 Jun – Memorial for St Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr

Irenaeus (c.130–202) was a disciple of St. Polycapr of Smyrna. He was ordained in 177. He was Bishop of Lugdunum, Gaul (modern Lyons, France). He worked and wrote against Gnosticism, basing his arguments on the works of St. John the Apostle, whose gospel is often cited by Gnostics. He dispatched evangelists, including St. Ferreolus of Besancon, and St. Ferrutio of Bescancon. He is considered the first great Western ecclesiastical writer and theologian, and he emphasized the unity of the Old and New Testaments, as well as Christ’s simultaneous human and divine nature, and the value of tradition. He is a Father of the Church, and was martyred for his faith.

– Patron Saint Index
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Genesis 19:15-29

The angels urged Lot, ‘Come, take your wife and these two daughters of yours, or you will be overwhelmed in the punishment of the town.’ And as he hesitated, the men took him by the hand, and his wife and his two daughters, because of the pity the Lord felt for him. They led him out and left him outside the town.

As they were leading him out he said, ‘Run for your life. Neither look behind you nor stop anywhere on the plain. Make for the hills if you would not be overwhelmed.’ ‘No, I beg you, my lord,’ Lot said to them ‘your servant has won your favour and you have shown great kindness to me in saving my life. But I could not reach the hills before this calamity overtook me, and death with it. The town over there is near enough to flee to, and is a little one. Let me make for that – is it not little? – and my life will be saved.’ He answered, ‘I grant you this favour too, and will not destroy the town you speak of. Hurry, escape to it, for I can do nothing until you reach it.’ That is why the town is named Zoar.

As the sun rose over the land and Lot entered Zoar, the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord. He overthrew these towns and the whole plain, with all the inhabitants of the towns, and everything that grew there. But the wife of Lot looked back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.

Rising early in the morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and looking towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and across all the plain, he saw the smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

Thus it was that when God destroyed the towns of the plain, he kept Abraham in mind and rescued Lot out of disaster when he overwhelmed the towns where Lot lived.
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Matthew 8:23-27

Jesus got into the boat followed by his disciples. Without warning a storm broke over the lake, so violent that the waves were breaking right over the boat. But he was asleep. So they went to him and woke him saying, ‘Save us, Lord, we are going down!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith?’ And with that he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and all was calm again. The men were astounded and said, ‘Whatever kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him.’
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‘Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith?’

Faith is truly a gift from God and I always wonder how God can be so generous as to present us with such a gift. What surprises me even more is the usefulness and effects that the gift brings to the person using it.

In thje Gospel we read about the lack of faith of the isciples who were frightened at the prospect of having to face a mighty storm. I think that sometimes I am placed in situations that demand even greater things of me and it is my hope that I will have a bit more faith in God just as Abraham had in the first reading.

His intercession for his cousin Lot ensured that the latter’s life survived. In fact, the lack of faith demonstrated by Lot’s wife resulted in her being punished. Doubt of God’s ability shows our lack of faith in God’s power to work in our lives. As we continue in our work, I ask that you take some time to pause and consider how you can deepen the faith you have in God and share this joy to the people whom you will meet today.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord, increase our faith.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to all who instruct others in the faith.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 28 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10; Galatians 1:11-20; John 21:15-19; Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Vigil Mass)
Wed, 29 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8.17-18; Matthew 16:13-19; Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Mass of the Day)
Thu, 30 Jun – Genesis 22:1-19; Matthew 9:1-8; Memorial for the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Fri, 01 Jul – Deuteronomy 7:6-11; 1 John 4:7-16; Mathew 11:25-30; Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sat, 02 Jul – Isaiah 61:9-11; Luke 2:41-51; Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sun, 03 Jul – Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9.11-13; Matthew 11:25-30; Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Monday, 27 Jun – All Loving God

27 Jun – Memorial for St Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

Cyril (376–444) was the nephew of Theophilus the Patriarch. He was a monk and a priest who became Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt in 412, and later the Patriarch of Alexandria. He suppressed the Novatians. He worked at the Council of Ephesus. He fought against Nestorius who taught the heresy that there were two persons in Christ.

He was a catechetical writer, and wrote a book opposing Julian the Apostate. He is a Greek Father of the Church, and is a Doctor of the Church.

– Patron Saint Index
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Genesis 18:16-33

From Mamre the men set out and arrived within sight of Sodom, with Abraham accompanying them to show them the way. Now the Lord had wondered, ‘Shall I conceal from Abraham what I am going to do, seeing that Abraham will become a great nation with all the nations of the earth blessing themselves by him? For I have singled him out to command his sons and his household after him to maintain the way of the Lord by just and upright living. In this way the Lord will carry out for Abraham what he has promised him.’ Then the Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’

The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ the Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’

Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No,’ he replied ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ Again Abraham said to him, ‘Perhaps there will only be forty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’

Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the twenty.’ He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the ten.’

When he had finished talking to Abraham the Lord went away, and Abraham returned home.
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Matthew 8:18-22

When Jesus saw the great crowds all about him he gave orders to leave for the other side. One of the scribes then came up and said to him, ‘Master, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, ‘Sir, let me go and bury my father first.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.’
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The Lord is compassion and love

I have noticed that the cobbler who I send my shoes to for repair is always deeply engaged in his craft. He never fails to amaze me by his dedication toward the repairing of shoes and the care he demonstrates in the handling of the tools to achieve his aim. It seems to me that sometimes he is oblivious to the surroundings in his quest to do the perfect repair.

The expectations of a Christian are somewhat similar; God expects us to put in our best towards living the Christian life. This means a whole-hearted dedication towards what we have been called to do and how we can do it in a manner that is worthy of His name. It is with this reason that I feel Jesus mentions in the Gospel that anybody has his heart on things of this world is not ready to follow him to the full.

What is the fruit of living out a good Christian life? It has to be the discovery of God’s compassion and love that He has shown to all creatures. Abraham’s intercession for the people of Sodom speaks of the volume of faith that he had in God’s compassion. It is also with this in mind that we can turn to God today and ask Him to show us how we can be true disciples by being loving and compassionate to all around us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord, we pray for the grace to love others.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those that bring the love of God to those in their daily lives.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 28 Jun – Genesis 19:15-29; Matthew 8:23-27; Memorial for St Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr
Tue, 28 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10; Galatians 1:11-20; John 21:15-19; Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Vigil Mass)
Wed, 29 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8.17-18; Matthew 16:13-19; Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Mass of the Day)
Thu, 30 Jun – Genesis 22:1-19; Matthew 9:1-8; Memorial for the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Fri, 01 Jul – Deuteronomy 7:6-11; 1 John 4:7-16; Mathew 11:25-30; Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sat, 02 Jul – Isaiah 61:9-11; Luke 2:41-51; Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sun, 03 Jul – Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9.11-13; Matthew 11:25-30; Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sunday, 26 Jun – Transformation Of The Gift

26 Jun – Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi)

The Food And Drink Of Eternal Life
God kept his people alive in he desert by giving them food and drink from heaven. The food and drink he gives us in this sacrament is the body and blood of his Son, given for the life of the world.

– The Sunday Missal
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Deuteronomy 8:2-3.14-16

Moses said to the people: ‘Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart – whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

‘Do not become proud of heart. Do not forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: who guided you through this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known.’
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1 Corinthians 10:16-17

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. The fact that there is only one loaf means that, though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.
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John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jews:

‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’
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He fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known

Most of us were taught that things can be placed into neat categories. Living and non-living, mammals and non-mammals, two-legged and four-legged, hardcover and soft-cover; these groupings help us identify objects and creatures around us. Perhaps such lessons lead us to think about people in terms of classifications too: tall and short, big-footed and tiny feet, beautiful and ugly. So what are we to make of a man who has died but still lives, and tells us we too will live forever if we have the real food and the real drink? That seems to go beyond the realm of what we can classify.

A statement made in the first reading and repeated in the gospel give us a hint to how we can perceive the Body and Blood. Moses told the people that God was going to give ‘manna that your fathers had not known’, and Jesus said he wanted to give the bread unlike what ‘our ancestors ate’. Each time, God came up with a unique recipe and made bread for exactly what his people needed. That is how innovative God is. It seems he wants to give in new ways to provide for what we need and want, even beyond what we know or dream of.

Each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we take in what is unchanged and what is changed, a man who died but now lives. If we want to, we can receive the Body which resembles the bread which generations have known, and, at the same time, the Body that is exactly what we need at that moment. Strength, wisdom, comfort, peace, love, patience – the Body we receive is all of those (and more), yet is unlike what we know previously, because our needs are constantly changing. If we trust more and more to say, “I will receive the best from Him” at each Mass/Meal, we shall not die of thirst no matter what waterless place we are in.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Melissa Chia)
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Prayer: We pray that does who do not yet believe may come to know the hope found in your Body and Blood. Amen.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for the mysteries of the Eucharist that inspires us to know Jesus more.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 27 Jun – Genesis 18:16-33; Matthew 8:18-22; Memorial for St Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Tue, 28 Jun – Genesis 19:15-29; Matthew 8:23-27; Memorial for St Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr
Tue, 28 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10; Galatians 1:11-20; John 21:15-19; Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Vigil Mass)
Wed, 29 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8.17-18; Matthew 16:13-19; Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Mass of the Day)
Thu, 30 Jun – Genesis 22:1-19; Matthew 9:1-8; Memorial for the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Fri, 01 Jul – Deuteronomy 7:6-11; 1 John 4:7-16; Mathew 11:25-30; Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sat, 02 Jul – Isaiah 61:9-11; Luke 2:41-51; Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sun, 03 Jul – Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9.11-13; Matthew 11:25-30; Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Saturday, 25 Jun – Recognising God Today

25 Jun – World Refugee Day
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Genesis 18:1-15

The Lord appeared to Abraham at the Oak of Mamre while he was sitting by the entrance of the tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up, and there he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and bowed to the ground. ‘My lord,’ he said ‘I beg you, if I find favour with you, kindly do not pass your servant by. A little water shall be brought; you shall wash your feet and lie down under the tree. Let me fetch a little bread and you shall refresh yourselves before going further. That is why you have come in your servant’s direction.’ They replied, ‘Do as you say.’

Abraham hastened to the tent to find Sarah.’ ‘Hurry,’ he said ‘knead three bushels of flour and make loaves.’ Then running to the cattle Abraham took a fine and tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it. Then taking cream, milk and the calf he had prepared, he laid all before them, and they ate while he remained standing near them under the tree.

‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ they asked him. ‘She is in the tent’ he replied. Then his guest said, ‘I shall visit you again next year without fail, and your wife will then have a son.’ Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well on in years, and Sarah had ceased to have her monthly periods. So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, ‘Now that I am past the age of child-bearing, and my husband is an old man, is pleasure to come my way again!’ But the Lord asked Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Am I really going to have a child now that I am old?” Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the same time next year I shall visit you again and Sarah will have a son.’ ‘I did not laugh’ Sarah said, lying because she was afraid. But he replied, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’
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Matthew 8:5-17

When Jesus went into Capernaum a centurion came up and pleaded with him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘my servant is lying at home paralysed, and in great pain.’ ‘I will come myself and cure him’ said Jesus. The centurion replied, ‘Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this. And I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the subjects of the kingdom will be turned out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.’ And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go back, then; you have believed, so let this be done for you.’ And the servant was cured at that moment.

And going into Peter’s house Jesus found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

That evening they brought him many who were possessed by devils. He cast out the spirits with a word and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah:

He took our sicknesses away and carried our diseases for us.
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As soon as he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and bowed to the ground

A friend asked me about my lack of faith in the Catholic Church. I said that part of the reason is that the Church is slow to recognise God. When I read about the lives of saints of the Church, I find that very often they were heavily persecuted during their lifetime, and the people who did the most persecuting were usually men of the Church. I think that if today Jesus were to appear in our midst, the Church would persecute Him as well. That, unfortunately, is how the Church does its testing.

In today’s readings, we see a stark contrast to that kind of behaviour prevalent in the Church today. In the first reading, the Lord appeared to Abraham in the form of three men. The moment Abraham saw the Lord, he recognised the Lord and ran to them. There was no testing, no questioning, no interrogation. Instead, there was only instant recognition.

In the gospel reading, the Roman centurion, a non-Jew, asked the Lord to give the word and his servant would be cured. This kind of faith, this instant recognition of Christ’s authority, astonished Jesus and caused Him to remark that He had not found faith like this in all of Israel.

Israel treated Jesus the way the Church treated its saints. In many cases, only long after the saints died did the Church recognise their sanctity. Having worked in the church for a few years, I came to realise the people of the Church are like people anywhere else. We are slow to believe, slow to take action. We want to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. We will wait and see if something is good before we get ourselves involved in it. It’s prudent. It’s common sense. And it’s characteristic of the faith of Israel.

I believe the Church is wise on hindsight. It is able to recognise how God has made Himself known to His people in the past. But if I were to have the faith that enables me to recognise how God is making Himself known to us today, I don’t think the Church can help me in that because its track record has been anything but.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
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Prayer: We pray for those who are struggling to make the Catholic Church more responsive to God’s presence in our world today. May they never give up hope.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for the Church’s wisdom of the ages.

Upcoming Readings:
Sun, 26 Jun – Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11-17; Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi)

Friday, 24 Jun – Created For A Purpose

24 Jun – Solmenity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Mass of the Day)

John the Baptist (d.30) was the cousin of Jesus Christ. His father, Zachary, was a priest of the order of Abia whose job in the Temple was to burn incense; and of Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron. As Zachary was ministering in the Temple, an angel brought him news that Elizabeth would bear a child filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth. Zachary doubted and was struck dumb until John’s birth.

John began his ministry as prophet around age 27, wearing a leather belt and a tunic of camel hair, living off locusts and wild honey, and preaching a message of repentance to the people of Jerusalem. He converted many, and prepared the way for the coming of Jesus. After baptizing Christ, he told his disciples to follow Jesus.

Imprisoned by King Herod, John the Baptist died a victim of the vengeance of a jealous woman; he was beheaded, and his head brought to her on a platter. St. Jerome says Herodias kept the head for a long time after, occasionally stabbing the tongue with her dagger because of what John had said in life.

– Patron Saint Index
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Isaiah 49:1-6

Islands, listen to me,
pay attention, remotest peoples.
The Lord called me before I was born,
from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.

He made my mouth a sharp sword,
and hid me in the shadow of his hand.
He made me into a sharpened arrow,
and concealed me in his quiver.

He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel)
in whom I shall be glorified’;
while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain,
I have exhausted myself for nothing’;

and all the while my cause was with the Lord,
my reward with my God.
I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord,
my God was my strength.

And now the Lord has spoken,
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
to gather Israel to him:

‘It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I will make you the light of the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
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Acts of the Apostles 13:22-26

Paul said: ‘God deposed Saul and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”

‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you.’
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Luke 1:57-66.80

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.
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The Lord called me before I was born

Lately, I found myself watching yet another rerun of the movie I-Robot on television. Instead of being bored at the repetition, I was pleasantly surprised to gain some interesting insights about God from the show. I had always found the character of Sonny very moving. His creator made him unique, different from the rest of the robot clones. He knew he was different, but his creator did not tell him why he made him that way. He gets some clues about his purpose as the plot progresses, and the movie ends with a scene that seems to call him to a much larger purpose than he imagined.

John was the last in a long line of prophets who prepared God’s people for the coming of Jesus as Saviour. His purpose was decided even before he was formed in his mother’s womb, and while he was there, he was already witnessing to the glory of God by leaping with joy at Mary’s greeting to Elizabeth. In a way, his entire life, from birth to death, was spent paving the way for Jesus. He was truly a servant of the Lord.

In a way, I think John was fortunate, in that it was clear that he was to herald the coming of Christ. He probably did not need to think very hard about his purpose in life. For the vast majority of us, though we may be aware of the fact that we are unique creations of God, it remains a challenging, life-long task to discern our true purpose. Many priests and religious have written books and given retreats to guide people on the discernment journey. I have yet to seriously carry out that discernment, but for now, the acceptance of the fact that God made me for a purpose is motivating me to live life to the best of my abilities.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
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Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the wisdom to discern our role in building your kingdom here on earth.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, we thank you for creating us with love.

Upcoming Readings:
Sat, 25 Jun – Genesis 18:1-5; Matthew 8:5-17; World Refugee Day
Sun, 26 Jun – Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11-17; Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi)

Thursday, 23 Jun – Not Seeing, Yet Believing

23 Jun – Solemnity of the Nativity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Vigil Mass)

John the Baptist (d.30) was the cousin of Jesus Christ. His father, Zachary, was a priest of the order of Abia whose job in the Temple was to burn incense; and of Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron. As Zachary was ministering in the Temple, an angel brought him news that Elizabeth would bear a child filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth. Zachary doubted and was struck dumb until John’s birth.

John began his ministry as prophet around age 27, wearing a leather belt and a tunic of camel hair, living off locusts and wild honey, and preaching a message of repentance to the people of Jerusalem. He converted many, and prepared the way for the coming of Jesus. After baptizing Christ, he told his disciples to follow Jesus.

Imprisoned by King Herod, John the Baptist died a victim of the vengeance of a jealous woman; he was beheaded, and his head brought to her on a platter. St. Jerome says Herodias kept the head for a long time after, occasionally stabbing the tongue with her dagger because of what John had said in life.

– Patron Saint Index
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Jeremiah 1:4-10

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.’
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1 Peter 1:8-12

You did not see Jesus Christ, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.

It was this salvation that the prophets were looking and searching so hard for; their prophecies were about the grace which was to come to you. The Spirit of Christ which was in them foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would come after them, and they tried to find out at what time and in what circumstances all this was to be expected. It was revealed to them that the news they brought of all the things which have now been announced to you, by those who preached to you the Good News through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, was for you and not for themselves. Even the angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.
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Luke 1:5-17

In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.

Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.

Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.’
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You did not see Jesus Christ, yet you love him

In 1953, scientists James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, and with that, changed the course of scientific research for the world. Their discovery was not the product of their labour alone; for years scientists had puzzled over the factor that was responsible for heredity of traits. The predecessors of Watson and Crick had laid much groundwork and made several discoveries that enabled the eventual momentous finding to take place. Most did not live to see the eventual fulfilment of their dream.

I am using the above story as an analogy, though not a very strong one, with the Old Testament account of the prophets who had foretold the coming of Christ for thousands of years before He actually came. Although they may not have known exactly when and how the child would arrive, they persevered in paving the way to God for humanity. How marvellous and wonderful is this thing called faith, where one does not see and yet believe.

Where do we see Christ in the world today? Even when He was physically present in the world, it was not immediately apparent to John that Jesus was the one for whom he had been preparing the people. There are so many factors that can distract us from Him, and He can be easily missed if we do not pay attention. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). In order to properly discern God’s voice and follow the right shepherd, a key step would be repentance, as preached by John during his ministry.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
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Prayer: Lord, we pray that we may live out our Christian mission as priest, prophet and king.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the many faithful who have gone before us and inspired us with the hope of faith.

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, 24 Jun – Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts of the Apostles 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66;80; Solmenity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Mass of the Day)
Sat, 25 Jun – Genesis 18:1-5; Matthew 8:5-17; World Refugee Day
Sun, 26 Jun – Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11-17; Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi)

Thursday, 23 Jun – Service Is No Guarantee Of Relationship

23 Jun
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Genesis 16:1-12.15-16

Abram’s wife Sarai had borne hin no child, but she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar. So Sarah said to Abram, ‘List, now! Since the Lord has kept me from having children, go to my slave-girl. Perhaps I shall get children through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai had said.

Thus after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan for ten years Sarai took Hagar her Egyptian slave-girl and gave her to Abram as his wife. He went to Hagar and she conveived. And once she knew she had conceived, her mistress counted for nothing in her eyes. Then Sarai went to Abram, ‘May this insult to me come home to you! It was I who put my slave-girl into your arms but now she knows that she has conceived, I count for nothing in her eyes. Let the Lord judge between me and you.’ ‘Very well,’ Abram said to Sarai, ‘your slave-girl is at your disposal. Treat her as you think fit.’ Sarai accordingly treated her so badly that she ran away from her.

The angel of the Lord met Hagar near a spring in the wilderness, the spring that is on the road to Shur. He said ‘Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going’ ‘I am running away from my mistress Sarai.’ she replied. The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘I will make your descendents too numerous to be counted.’ Then the angel of the Lord said to her:

‘Now you have conceived, and you will bear a son,
and you shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard your cries in distress.
A wild-ass of a man he will be,
against every man, and every man against him,
setting himself to defy all his brothers.’

Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave to the son that Hagar bore the name Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael.
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Matthew 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!

‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts to them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against the house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and now what a fall it had!’

Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and his teaching made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority, and not like their own scribes.
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I have never known you

When I graduated from university some eight years ago, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But there was one thing that I was sure of. I never wanted to lose my relationship with God. So I decided to work in the employment of the church, confident that so long as I worked for God through the church, I would never stray far from God. Today, I know better. Today I know that a person can work in church, can serve in church, but may never know God. And I know that service in church is no guarantee that I would not lose my relationship with God.

In today’s first reading, we read of Abraham’s first-born son Ishmael. Ishmael is to the Arabs as Isaac is to the Jews. In the Quran, it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was offered up in sacrifice to God. Regardless of which son it was, we know from history lessons that being a descendant of Abraham is no guarantee that a person would know God. In our context, we can say that just because a person is a baptised Christian is no guarantee that the person knows God.

In the gospel reading, we read of people who prophesied, cast out demons, and worked miracles in the Lord’s name, but the Lord said to them that He never knew them. What then must a person do in order so that God might know him and he might know God?

Let me frame it another way. Think of an employee of a large corporation. The employee works for the CEO of the corporation. Once a year, the employee sees the CEO and perhaps, if lucky, gets to shake his hand and have a few words with him. The employee can work his entire life for his CEO, but can meet him along the street and the CEO likely would not recognise his employee. Most of us work for God in the same way.

But if an employee takes time and effort to set up appointments with his CEO, to write to him, to call him on the phone, to invite him over for dinner, to get to know him on a personal level outside of the context of work, do you think the CEO will recognise him on the street? The same it is with getting to know God.

Service to God in whatever way is no guarantee that a person knows God personally. If you have time only for one, which do you think is more important?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
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Prayer: We pray for the many Christians serving God in one way or another, that we may take time and effort to get to know God personally.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for wanting to have a personal relationship with us.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 23 Jun – Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Peter:8-12; Luke 1:5-17; Solemnity of the Nativity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Vigil Mass)
Fri, 24 Jun – Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts of the Apostles 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66;80; Solmenity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Mass of the Day)
Sat, 25 Jun – Genesis 18:1-5; Matthew 8:5-17; World Refugee Day
Sun, 26 Jun – Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11-17; Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi)