Monthly Archives: August 2013

Saturday, 31 Aug – Use It or Lose It

31 Aug
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1 Thessalonians 4:9-11

As for loving our brothers, there is no need for anyone to write to you about that, since you have learnt from God yourselves to love one another, and in fact this is what you are doing with all the brothers throughout the whole of Macedonia. However, we do urge you, brothers, to go on making even greater progress and to make a point of living quietly, attending to your own business and earning your living, just as we told you to.
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Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”

‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’

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Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter

The workplace is great for character building. How we behave when we’re under stress, how we handle bad situations, how we deal with failure. It’s all there! And perhaps more than any other place, this is where we show our true colors. To deflect the focus from our own failure, we like to cook up all manner of excuses. We were not given the resources. Our deadlines were too tight. Our colleagues were not team players. My personal favorite in fact, is the one that’s most commonly used – “My boss is so stubborn, there’s no point talking to him because he never listens”. Those of us who lead teams know what I’m talking about. It is always the boss’ fault.

In the Parable of the Talents, the more interesting character is of course, the Third Servant. Failure is a great teacher and in a lot of ways, the Third Servant mirrors our own selves. How? He was an idle fellow. He had the resources, he had the time and he had the means to do something about it – but he did not. We know that we can get that way when we’re given projects we don’t like to do. We complain about how hard it is, how we’re ‘concerned about the risks’. We complain – but we don’t seek solutions for it. His excuse for idleness? “I was afraid so I hid your money in the ground” (Matt 25:25). Often we use fear as a shield to mask what is really inertia and plain laziness.

He squandered his time. The master of the house gave the three servants ample time to make good on their capital. Time is one of the resources at our disposal that is least appreciated. We think we have so much of it, then lo and behold, we celebrate our 40th birthday and realize that our days are nearing an end. Still we continue to put off going to church, we procrastinate with our work for His ministry, as if oblivious to that ticking clock – ‘Next week Lord, I’ll do it next week’. Then weeks turn into months, and months turn into years. Before we know it, our time is up and we have to give our reckoning to the ‘master of the house’.

He had a bad attitude. I’ve always found this line a bit disturbing, like it doesn’t belong in the verse. But as I’ve grown older and observed myself in the workplace, I’ve realized what it refers to. “Master I know you are an exacting man. You reap what you have not sown and gather what you have not invested”. The third servant is essentially saying, “I don’t want to work for you because I don’t respect you”. How many of us have left jobs because we have grown disillusioned by the quality of leadership? We might not respect them but this is the path we have chosen. We should walk it despite our irritation. Similarly, a few bad eggs in a ministry don’t spoil the whole church, but some of us use that as a reason to walk away. Is that justified?

Examine our hearts today. Don’t we seem more like the Third Servant than the First or Second? “To those who have, more will be given, so that they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them” – Matt 25:29. Our talents and circumstances are on borrowed time from God. We should try to make the most of them while they’re still available to us. It’s use it or lose it after all!

 

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
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Prayer: We pray for a willing and fearless attitude towards both our jobs and our responsibilities within the ministry. God only asks that we be faithful in small things, He will take care of the rest.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our colleagues at work and within God’s ministry who soldier on despite their deep dissatiscation.

 

 

Friday, 30 Aug – Marriage and Faith

30 Aug
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1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.

What God wants is for you all to be holy. He wants you to keep away from fornication, and each one of you to know how to use the body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honourable, not giving way to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God. He wants nobody at all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always punishes sins of that sort, as we told you before and assured you. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral; in other words, anyone who objects is not objecting to a human authority, but to God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
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Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

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Five of them were foolish and five were sensible

While waiting in the queue at LAX Airport this week, I watched an old couple talk to each other. LA-HK is a long flight, 14 hours in total. After that, you wait an hour in line, while Immigration processes your entry. It’s a tiring journey, one that leaves you feeling grumpy, restless and exhausted. The old couple was the picture of peace though. They shared a box of mints, talked and laughed at each other’s jokes. Half way through the queue that had grown to six bodies deep, and ten bodies wide, she must have got the cramps because he started rubbing her arms to keep her warm. I love watching old couples. It reaffirms my faith that after the heady excitement of romance has faded, there is something more, something deeper that can withstand the trials of marriage, something that’s worth holding on for. Some people really do spend the rest of their lives together.

Marriage is often used in Scripture as a metaphor for a believer’s journey of faith. Why do some marriages flounder, while others go the distance? Preparedness (or the lack thereof) is one of the many reasons. Are we mentally ready for the hard work that goes into making a marriage work? Do we go into marriage with the right expectations? Modern marriages seem to be more about ‘What’s in it for me’ rather than ‘What can we achieve together’. Modern brides and modern bridal magazines often talk about the material trappings of marriage, but very little about how they see life working after the big wedding. The idea of marriage is appealing, but the tenacity that goes into making it work? Not so much! For these ‘foolish virgins’, after the romance and courtship ends comes the rude awakening of what it is they have signed up for. Caregiving is burdensome, child-rearing exhausting. They find out too late that they simply don’t have the stores of love, patience and perseverance to help them last the whole way.

It is the same with our faith journey. Once the enthusiasm of conversion fades, we gasp and flounder at the hard work of living out our faith. We go into our conversion thinking God is that magical genie who will grant us happiness only to be find out that “…narrow is the gate that leads to life and how rough the road; few there are who find it” (Matt 7:14). We like the idea of being Christian and the promise of eternal happiness, but we want it on our terms. When we realize that that’s not how it’s going to play, we fall away.

Today’s parable reminds us that like marriage, salvation favors the prepared. “Not everyone who says to me: ‘Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not speak in your name? Did we not cast out devils and perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them openly, ‘I have never known you; away from me you evil people” (Matt 7:21-23). The light of salvation shines on those who were foresighted enough to have saved up sufficient stores of love, patience and perseverance to light their way to heaven. The light of salvation favors the faithful, who hold on and maintain their focus on the Lord despite the tedium and hard work of living out our faith. Giving one’s hand to God is like getting married, in a lot of ways. You will never know if it’s going to work out but therein is the beauty of faith. God is ever faithful. It is up to us to remain so as well.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
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Prayer: We pray for all those facing big life decisions now. May God give them the stores of patience, love and perseverance necessary to go the distance.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in all our big decisions.

Thursday, 29 Aug – Who Killed John the Baptist?

29 Aug – Memorial of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

Cousin of Jesus Christ. Son of Zachary, a priest of the order of Abia whose job in the temple was to burn incense; and of Elizabeth, a descendent 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.

Prophet. John began his ministry 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. He Baptized Christ, after which he stepped away and told his disciples to follow Jesus.

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

– The Patron Saint Index

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1 Thessalonians 3:7-13

Brothers, your faith has been a great comfort to us in the middle of our own troubles and sorrows; now we can breathe again, as you are still holding firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel before our God on your account? We are earnestly praying night and day to be able to see you face to face again and make up any shortcomings in your faith.

May God our Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, make it easy for us to come to you. May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.
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Mark 6:17-29

Herod sent to have John arrested, and had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he had married. For John had told Herod, ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife.’ As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him; but she was not able to, because Herod was afraid of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.

An opportunity came on Herod’s birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee. When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.’ And he swore her an oath, ‘I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the Baptist’ The girl hurried straight back to the king and made her request, ‘I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head, here and now, on a dish.’ The king was deeply distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her. So the king at once sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John’s head. The man went off and beheaded him in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
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It is a breath of life for us when you stand firm in the Lord

“Who killed John the Baptist?
I said the guard; with my sword so broad. I killed John the Baptist.
I said the maiden, with my face so fair. I bewitched the king to kill John the Baptist.
I said the King; I caved in. I gave the order that killed John the Baptist.
I said the Queen, with an evil gleam. I planted the seed that killed John the Baptist.”

Those of us who grew up with nursery rhymes will be familiar with “Who Killed Cock Robin”. Despite there being a gallery of “bids of the air…a-sighing and a-sobbing”, no one comes to the rescue of Cock Robin. They simply stand by and watch. The authenticity of our Christian worship is determined by how we handle those situations when ‘standing firm’ in the Lord means putting ourselves on the line and doing something when we see a wrong committed. Often, this requires us to put ourselves out there. It requires us to be bold, to make a statement. Yes, it is always easier to turn a blind eye or just stand by and watch. We even have a term to justify it now – it’s called ‘respecting others’ privacy’. But as we read this week, wide is the road that leads to destruction; it’s the path of least resistance that gets us there! Herod could have stopped John’s execution; he was the king after all and “…Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man” (Mark 6:20). The Queen’s daughter could have resisted her mother’s manipulation and showed her the folly of it. The guards could have listened to their conscience and let John go. The gentility present at Herod’s court could have stood up for John and supported Herod against his crazy wife. No one was compelled to listen to their conscience.

There’s evil in this world every day. It takes strong men and women to do the right thing to stop it from overshadowing all that’s good. Do we stand up for people, when they’ve been wronged even if it means putting ourselves at risk? For eg, when we see signs of domestic strife coming from our neighbors’ homes, do we hide behind that ‘politically correct’ excuse, “Let’s respect their privacy” and do nothing? Victims stay victims because of their fear but also because of our indifference.

We will never know the moment at which God decides to test us. He might even be testing our hearts right now, as we’re reading this, watching what our conscience is saying to us. We realize the event for what it is only when with the benefit of hindsight and regret, we see how we could have done something to prevent an evil. Pilate realized the significance of his moment because of a dream sent to his wife – “He then asked for water and washed his hands before the people saying, ‘I am not responsible for his blood. It is your doing” (Matt 27:24-25). But Pilate did nothing to prevent it which means Jesus’ innocent blood is ALSO on Pilate’s hands. “It is a breath of life for us when you stand firm in the Lord” (1 Thes 3:8). Examine today if we have made too many excuses for not doing the right thing by our conscience. Political correctness does not protect the weak or the oppressed; it shields only the indifferent.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
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Prayer: We pray for the courage to stand firm in the Lord and have an authentic worship.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who put aside what is politically correct to do what is morally right.

Wednesday, 28 Aug – Discipline

28 Aug – Memorial of Saint Augustine

Son of a pagan father who converted on his death bed, and of Saint Monica, a devout Christian. Raised a Christian, he lost his faith in youth and led a wild life. Lived with a Carthaginian woman from the age of 15 through 30. Fathered a son whom he named Adeotadus, which means the gift of God. Taught rhetoric at Carthage and Milan, Italy. After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code. A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: “God, give me chastity and continence – but not just now.”

Augustine finally broke with the Manichaeans and was converted by the prayers of his mother and the help of Saint Ambrose of Milan, who baptized him. On the death of his mother he returned to Africa, sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and founded a monastery. Monk. Priest. Preacher. Bishop of Hippo in 396. Founded religious communities. Fought Manichaeism, Donatism, Pelagianism and other heresies. Oversaw his church and his see during the fall of the Roman Empire to the Vandals. Doctor of the Church. His later thinking can also be summed up in a line from his writings: Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.

– The Patron Saint Index

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1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

Let me remind you, brothers, how hard we used to work, slaving night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you while we were proclaiming God’s Good News to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, that our treatment of you, since you became believers, has been impeccably right and fair. You can remember how we treated every one of you as a father treats his children, teaching you what was right, encouraging you and appealing to you to live a life worthy of God, who is calling you to share the glory of his kingdom. Another reason why we constantly thank God for you is that as soon as you heard the message that we brought you as God’s message, you accepted it for what it really is, God’s message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among you who believe it.
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Matthew 23:27-32

Jesus said, ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who are like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of corruption. In the same way you appear to people from the outside like good honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who build the sepulchres of the prophets and decorate the tombs of holy men, saying, “We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our fathers’ day.” So! Your own evidence tells against you! You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets! Very well then, finish off the work that your fathers began.’
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Exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you walk in a manner worthy of the God

How does one discipline a child? Well, I was caned. It was just how kids were brought up in my time. If you crossed a line, you got ‘the feather duster’ as my parents liked to call it, this long bamboo hook with feathers on the end that you used to dust your shelves and hit your child. When you’re caned, you learn quickly that bad decisions have consequences. You also absorb life’s lessons early. When I was caned for messing up my sister’s birthday cake, I learned respect for other people’s property. When I was caned for spitting on my helper, I learned respect and good manners. I would say that all the caning has made me a more careful and considerate adult. So it was ‘effective’ as a means of instruction, even if by today’s standards, it’s harsh.

I’ve often wondered how my parents were able to steel themselves to do it. How do you put aside your feelings to discipline your child? The apostles grappled with a similar (if less extreme) kind of dilemma trying to keep the early Christians on the straight and narrow. “We treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His Kingdom and glory” (1 Thes 2:11-12). When the early Christians first discovered their faith, they were “cuddled and fed” like little children. However, our faith also has to ‘grow up’ and ‘mature’ and soon, we too have to discover the hard yards that are required of a Christian. How did the early apostles prepare new believers for the tough road ahead? We know that it was difficult because Paul left very specific instructions in his many letters to the early churches. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul finishes with the parting words, “Brothers and sisters, I want you to be thankful to those who labor among you, who lead you in the way of the Lord and also reprimand you. Esteem them highly and love them for what they are doing. Live at peace among yourselves” (1 Thes 5:12-13). Paul knew the elders would face resistance for making the ‘hard decisions’.

Scripture says that we are to “…pay attention when the Lord corrects you and do not be discouraged when He punishes you. For the Lord corrects those He loves and chastises everyone He accepts as a son…God treats you like sons and what son is not corrected by his father… all correction is painful at the moment rather than pleasant; later it brings the fruit of peace.” (Hebrews 12: 5-11). I know that without my parents’ strict upbringing, I would have run wild as an adult. It’s tough to make the hard decisions, to mete out discipline whether you are dealing with your own children or new believers in a ministry. No one likes to be the voice of good sense because it’s usually the least popular role whether you are at home or in a ministry. Everyone wants to be the ‘cool Mom/Dad’ or the ‘cool church elder’. But it’s ok not to be the popular one, because someday your child will thank you for the huge favor you did her. Just like it’s ok, to be the voice of ‘good sense’, to make the hard decisions in a ministry because you’re not in this to be popular, you’re in this because you owe it to Him to do the best job you can. You owe it to the people He has charged you with, to give them the best guidance they can for the hard road ahead. Like your children, you’ve done new believers a disservice if all you do is coddle and cuddle them. The Kingdom of Heaven lies at the end of a long and arduous road. No one gets there without some mental, emotional and spiritual ‘discipline’.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
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Prayer: We pray for all leaders of ministries, may God give them the resolve and wisdom to make the hard but necessary decisions.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our parents, who weren’t afraid to spare the rod despite our protestations.

Tuesday, 27 Aug – Self-Awareness

27 Aug – Memorial of Saint Monica

Raised in a Christian family, she was given in marriage to a bad-tempered, adulterous pagan named Patricius. Mother of two, one of whom is Saint Augustine of Hippo whose writings about her are the primary source of our information about Monica. She prayed constantly for the conversion of her husband (who converted on his death bed), and of her son (who converted after a wild life). Spiritual student of Saint Ambrose of Milan. Reformed alcoholic.

– The Patron Saint Index

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1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

You know yourselves, my brothers, that our visit to you has not proved ineffectual.

We had, as you know, been given rough treatment and been grossly insulted at Philippi, and it was our God who gave us the courage to proclaim his Good News to you in the face of great opposition. We have not taken to preaching because we are deluded, or immoral, or trying to deceive anyone; it was God who decided that we were fit to be entrusted with the Good News, and when we are speaking, we are not trying to please men but God, who can read our inmost thoughts. You know very well, and we can swear it before God, that never at any time have our speeches been simply flattery, or a cover for trying to get money; nor have we ever looked for any special honour from men, either from you or anybody else, when we could have imposed ourselves on you with full weight, as apostles of Christ.

Instead, we were unassuming. Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well.
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Matthew 23:23-26

Jesus said, ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who pay your tithe of mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law – justice, mercy, good faith! These you should have practised, without neglecting the others. You blind guides! Straining out gnats and swallowing camels!

‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who clean the outside of cup and dish and leave the inside full of extortion and intemperance. Blind Pharisee! Clean the inside of cup and dish first so that the outside may become clean as well.’
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Purify the inside first then the outside too will be purified

I ‘practice’ yoga. I say ‘practice’ because I feel the way that I am doing it right now goes against the grain of how yoga was meant to be practiced. When I first started, I naively assumed that all my fellow yogis were kind, compassionate, generous-minded people. Everyone tells you how the practice is going to change your life, how you’ll be more peaceful, how your mind will be transformed. I bought into it hook, line and sinker! I was sold! I’ve since found out the hard way that people can be just as competitive and driven in yoga as in any other physical discipline. And because I am competitive and driven myself, and refuse to be outdone in practice, I’ve succumbed to it!

The surest way of injuring yourself during practice is to put your ego before your breathing, to try to push yourself into a pose before you’re ready for it. While I’ve never been hurt practicing yoga, not yet at least, I think I have not progressed because of the weight of expectations and the competitiveness with which I take to my mat. The spirit of the practice is humility, discipline, strength, breathing, focus, concentration, meditation and peace. I’ve let ambition cloud all of this, so instead, when I get on my mat, I practice vanity, imbalance, frustration and impatience. Competitive Type-A personalities like me have a very high threshold for pain. We can push through immense challenges because we’re so driven. Without self-awareness, it is almost impossible to break the cycle. It’s the highway straight to injury and permanent damage.

The Pharisees were fully on board with the idea of themselves as the religious elite. To them, the trappings and traditions had become more important than the spirit of leadership. Jesus came to show a different kind of leadership – that of the servant leader, a leadership firmly rooted in humility, in mercy, in fidelity. This was diametrically opposed to the Pharisees’ way of leadership. The people came in droves to hear Jesus because they were hungry for inspiration, inspiration the Pharisees could not provide because they simply did not ‘live it’. When we’re given a position of responsibility within a ministry, we often start out with the greatest of enthusiasm. By and by, the tedium wears us down and we grow impatient. We still want the status that comes with the position, but oh why does it have to be such hard work? The Pharisees were the same. Entrenched in their position of power, they had grown accustomed to their privilege without actually doing any of the work they were supposed to be doing. Their sense of entitlement alienated them from the people they had been put there to lead. So like the proverbial servant who did nothing with his talents (Matt 25:14-30), God found new stewards for His work and took it away from the Pharisees.

When we look at the roles we play in our respective ministries, do we ever pause to ask ourselves, what is God’s intent here? What does God want for this ministry? Am I fulfilling what He needs or am I putting my own ambition first? Just as the growth of our yoga practice can be held back by intentions that are less than honorable, our faith journey and the growth of His ministry become compromised when we are distracted by the trappings of our position and lose sight of His will. What are our motives for His ministry? Are we aligned right with God?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
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Prayer: We pray for greater self-awareness in how we conduct our lives, our relationships and how we fulfill the roles we play in God’s ministry.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for family, friends and loved ones who keep us honest by being forthright with us, even when we don’t particularly like hearing the truth about ourselves.

Monday, 26 Aug – Endurance

25 Aug

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1 Thessalonians 1:1-5,8-10

From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace.

We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction. And you observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.
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Matthew 23:13-22

Jesus said, ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who shut up the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to.

‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when you have him you make him twice as fit for hell as you are.

‘Alas for you, blind guides! You who say, “If a man swears by the Temple, it has no force; but if a man swears by the gold of the Temple, he is bound.” Fools and blind! For which is of greater worth, the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? Or else, “If a man swears by the altar it has no force; but if a man swears by the offering that is on the altar, he is bound.” You blind men! For which is of greater worth, the offering or the altar that makes the offering sacred? Therefore, when a man swears by the altar he is swearing by that and by everything on it. And when a man swears by the Temple he is swearing by that and by the One who dwells in it. And when a man swears by heaven he is swearing by the throne of God and by the One who is seated there.’
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You who shut up the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to

There is an old Jain fable of six blind men and an elephant. Each blind man touched one part of the elephant and thought his experience was the truth. The man who touched its leg thought the elephant was like a pillar. The man who touched its tail thought it was like a rope. The man who touched its trunk thought it was like a tree with branches. The man who touched its ear thought the elephant was like a fan. The man who touched its rack thought it was like a solid wall. The man who touched its tusk thought the elephant was like a pipe. The six blind men argued agitatedly about this, each insisting that his view of the elephant was right. A wise man passing by stopped to see what the commotion was about, and after hearing what had happened, calmly replied, “You are all correct! An elephant is all those things because you each touched a different part of the animal. So you are all correct!”

This fable is often used to illustrate the need for tolerance and patience with another’s point of view. Like the six blind men, we too would each have had a different experience of the Kingdom of heaven. As Christians, we long so deeply to share our enthusiasm for God that we sometimes forget people have to experience God themselves. They will not be won over by how eloquently (or dogmatically) we put forward our argument. “The gospel we brought you was such not only in words. Miracles, Holy Spirit and plenty of everything were given to you… you became followers of us and of the Lord when, on receiving the word, you experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit in the midst of great opposition” (1 Thes 1:6).

I come from a very large family, one that was ‘blessed’ with much ‘religious diversity’. There were Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists and even Taoists amongst us. As a child, I remember listening to many heated discussions around the family dinner table, with each person forcefully defending their view of God. The Buddhists argued with the Taoists over how traditions should be practiced. The Buddhists and the Taoists squabbled with the Catholics and the Protestants when they were told that if they did not believe in Jesus, they would ‘not go to heaven’. The Catholics and the Protestants fought over whether one should ask for Mother Mary’s intercession. It was complete chaos!

Today, many of the Taoists and Buddhists in my family have found God and accepted Christ as their savior. In the end, it was not the angry, insistent words of the Protestants and the Catholics that won them over to God. “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Tim 19). While all those years of evangelizing might have laid the foundation, in the end what made the difference was the love and support that we showed each other as we struggled through sickness, old age and financial difficulties. They saw what it was like to live, a Christian. And when they were ready, the Holy Spirit opened their hearts and their eyes to receive the Lord. “God’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all, always teaching and patient with those who do not understand, gently correcting opponents; perhaps God may grant them to repent and discover the truth, withdrawing them from the snare of the devil” (2 Tim 24-25).

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
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Prayer: We pray for all those who face obstacles evangelizing the word of God. Be strong, be patient, be hopeful and endure. They will come when it is their time.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to our loved ones who have patiently brought us to God, despite the many sharp words and resistance at the beginning. We give thanks that they persevered with us to the end.

Sunday, 25 Aug – A Leap of Faith

25 Aug – Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord Gathers A People to Himself

Today, as sons and daughters of God, we submit ourselves to his loving discipline, remembering that it was not just the Jews, nor will it be just Christians whom the Lord will gather to himself. Many more worthy than us will come from East and West to share the banquet of his kingdom.

– The Sunday Missal

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Isaiah 66:18-21

The Lord says this: I am coming to gather the nations of every language. They shall come to witness my glory. I will give them a sign and send some of their survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put, Lud, Moshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant islands that have never heard of me or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory to the nations. As an offering to the Lord they will bring all your brothers, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, on dromedaries, from all the nations to my holy mountain in Jerusalem, says the Lord, like Israelites bringing oblations in clean vessels to the Temple of the Lord. And of some of them I will make priests and Levites, says the Lord.
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Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons. Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness. So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.
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Luke 13:22-30

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’
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Try your best to enter by the narrow door

“Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see” – Hebrews 11:1. I find I am repeating this to myself a lot lately. It’s as if the act of saying it over and over might embolden me to resolve a life decision I’m grappling with.

My loved one has decided to return to the US, leaving me in the difficult position of having to choose if I should follow. It’s a daunting thought! Hong Kong has been my home for the last 8 years. I’ve put down roots and built a wonderful network of friends. Life here ebbs and flows to a routine I know well. There are few surprises. There is order. If I leave, I will have to start over. I’ll be leaving behind my family and my entire support system. I feel like a woman on a precipice, with faith the only bridge across this great unknown.

Reading today’s gospel, I am reminded that “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many go that way” (Matt 7:13). The road to ruin might actually look a lot like that comfortable life I now live. The Devil does not claim us in grand gestures. Rather, his moves are innocuous, barely perceptible. He lulls us into a false sense of comfort, lets us draw security from our routine and then watches as we sink in our own complacency. We think we know it all, but we might already be on the road to ruin without even realizing it.

What does the road to heaven look like then? “Narrow is the gate that leads to life and how rough the road; few there are who find it” (Matt 7:14). And again, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough” (Luke 13:24).

“Strive!” Jesus says, “Strive!” as if he’s asking us to let struggle be our compass! God never said that it would or that it should be easy. Quite the contrary, he practically guaranteed that it would be full of challenges, and challenges that we should gladly embrace – “Endure your trials as ‘discipline” (Hebrews 12:7-11). But who amongst us would trade the certainty of routine, for the chaos of the unknown?!

I have no idea if leaving Hong Kong is something I’ll grow to regret, but maybe I should just let go of all my fears and go and see? If nothing at all, this decision should be less about me, and more about my loved one and God’s plans for us. God has never let me down. Neither has my loved one. Do I owe it to them both to give this a try?

 

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
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Prayer: We pray for all those who are contemplating life decisions, whether it be marriage, a new job, a new country, a new home or a new life. We pray that God will grant them wisdom to choose wisely and the perseverance to go the distance.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our family and our loved ones. We give thanks for their love, encouragement and support, even from many miles away.

 

 

Saturday, 24 Aug – The Fig Tree and the Believer

24 Aug – Feast of St Bartholomew, Apostle

One of the Twelves Apostles. Probably a close friend of Saint Philip; Bartholomew’s name is always mentioned in the Gospels in connection with Philip, and it was Philip who brought Bartholomew to Jesus. May have written a gospel, now lost; it is mentioned in other writings of the time. May have preached in Asia Minor, Ethiopia, India and Armenia; some one did, leaving behind assorted writings, and local tradition says it was Bartholomew. Martyr.

– The Patron Saint Index

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Apocalypse 21:9-14

The angel came to speak to me, and said, ‘Come here and I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married.’ In the spirit, he took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
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John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. so You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’

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I saw you under the fig tree

How do we know when we have had a personal encounter with God? If “many are called, but few will enter”, how do we know that we have even been counted as one of the ‘many’ to have been called? When we think we hear His voice, how are we certain that it is not the over-active imaginings of our hungry hearts? We know because God speaks to us using events and symbolism specific only to us. St Peter, a fisherman by trade, was called through a miraculous catch of fish. Only he would have understood the significance of that miracle, after toiling so fruitlessly – “… ‘We worked hard all night and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will lower the nets’. This they did and caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” (Luke 5:5-6). God taps into our yearning, in a language only we can understand.

Like St Peter, Nathanael’s heart is set alight, when Christ shows him the double meaning of the fig tree. Figs have a particular significance in Scripture. The old prophets linked the nation of Israel symbolically to the good fruit. Hosea wrote, “I found Israel…I saw your ancestors like the first fruits on a fig tree” (Hosea 9: 10). The prophet Jeremiah also had a vision of two baskets of figs, symbolizing the nation of Israel – “Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them” (Jeremiah 24:5). When Jesus says to Nathanael, “Here is a true child of Israel… I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:47-48), he makes direct reference to the old texts and prophecies which foretell the coming of a Messiah who will unite the nation of Israel. He knows Nathanael will catch its significance. He knows it will be enough to set his heart on fire and break his cynicism. Around the time of Christ’s ministry, the Romans dominated much of politics, culture, philosophy and religion. The Romans were the ruling class and with all their wealth, they were an irresistible influence. Against this backdrop of Roman excess, the Israelites were at risk of losing their identity. The people were hungry – hungry for spiritual guidance, hungry for leadership they could believe in, hungry for inspiration. Their frustration was likely exacerbated by the hypocrisy and spinelessness of the Pharisees. Jesus ministry changes all of this. When Jesus proclaims, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty” (John 6:35), he taps straight into this deep well of yearning.

Today, many of us find ourselves in the same spiritual dilemma as the Israelites of Jesus’ time. We’re looking for inspiration. We’re yearning for spiritual leadership we can believe in. We’re so hungry it takes only a small spark to set our hearts alight! And because our yearning is so strong, it’s easy to fall victim to false prophets. And it’s easy to become jaded and cynical, like Nathanael. So how do we know, if we have had a personal encounter with God? “You will recognize them by their fruits… a good tree always produces good fruit, a rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot bear good fruit… so you will know them by their fruit” (Matt7:17-20).

On this day, the Feast of St Bartholomew, the celebration of Nathanael, the cynic who became a believer, the believer who became an apostle, let’s spend a few moments reflecting on how and where we find our inspiration. Is this truly the voice of God we hear? And if it is, have we been responsive enough?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
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Prayer: We pray for the wisdom to discern the sheep from the wolves, the good fruit from the bad.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Holy Spirit, without whose guidance we would all be lost.

Friday, 23 Aug – The Greatest Commandment

23 Aug – Memorial of Saint Rose of Lima

Born to Spanish immigrants to the New World. A beautiful girl and devoted daughter, she was so devoted to her vow of chastity that she used pepper and lye to ruin her complexion so she would not be attractive. Lived and meditated in a garden, raising vegetables and making embroidered items to sell to support her family and help the other poor. Dominican tertiary in 1606. Mystic. Visonary. Received invisible stigmata. Suffered from assorted physical and mental ailments. First saint born in the Americas. Founder of social work in Peru. Great devotion to Saint Catherine of Siena.

– The Patron Saint Index

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Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22

In the days of the Judges famine came to the land and a certain man from Bethlehem of Judah went – he, his wife and his two sons – to live in the country of Moab. Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she and her two sons were left. These married Moabite women: one was named Orpah and the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died and the woman was bereft of her two sons and her husband. So she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and went back to her people. But Ruth clung to her.

Naomi said to her, ‘Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her god. You must return too; follow your sister-in-law.’

But Ruth said, ‘Do not press me to leave you and to turn back from your company, for

‘wherever you go, I will go,
wherever you live, I will live.
Your people shall be my people,
and your God, my God.’
This was how Naomi, she who returned from the country of Moab, came back with Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
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Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’

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you shall love the Lord, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind

There isn’t really much more that needs to be said. But the question really is, ‘how much is all?’ Many of us already struggle to love our own siblings, friends and parents, how much more can we give to God?

It is an inherent trait in humans to always yearn for more, instead of being content with what we have. The moment we have achieved something, we seek to achieve more. Inevitably, that leaves us with a void within our hearts, a yearning that we always look to fulfill; we struggle with feelings of inadequacy, wanting to add more materially and spiritually. It is this constant struggle to fill that void, which leads us to fall into sin.

We need to reconcile with ourselves that we will always have this feeling within us. That we can never be perfect and hence, we should not expect our loved ones, friends and colleagues to be perfect as well. In other words, our expectations of others and of ourselves need to be rooted in reality and in the realization that all of us are sinners. Once we have accepted that fact, we can then begin to love ourselves, those around us and, in loving them, love the Lord the way Jesus commanded us to love. We tend to praise and ‘like’ friends or co-workers who appear perfect before us or who have, in one way or another, helped us to do a perfect job. Similarly, we expect to be praised and loved for always ‘doing the right thing’; and I am quite sure that we have been left disappointed many a time.

Brothers and sisters, we can never outdo the Lord when it comes to love. In spite of our sinfulness, our heavenly Father is ALWAYS there with his arms open, ready to embrace us when we fall. Those of us who are naturally competitive may want to take a step back and think about the last time we chided someone or turned our back to someone because he/she did not measure up to our expectations. God will never do that to us. He is ever willing and ever ready to shower us with His awesome love and mercy. And that love is immeasurable.

So how are we to love God with all our heart? I suggest that we open our own hearts to allow God’s love to come in. Let His love flood our hearts and flow into every single crevice, every single crack that has formed over the years because of hurts, disappointments, wounds inflicted by our loved ones. Let go of grudges and unforgiveness and just let God work in us. For only after we learn how to love ourselves can we then start loving others despite their flaws and weaknesses. Our archbishop always reminds us that you cannot give what you don’t have. So if you don’t have love for yourself, how can you then love others and in the process, love God?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
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Prayer: Father, we ask you to pour forth your love in abundance so that we can bask in your glory and learn to love ourselves.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your everlasting love for us.

Thursday, 22 Aug – RSVPs

22 Aug – Memorial of The Queenship of Mary

A Marian feast day decreed by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam to recognize and celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of the world, of the angels, of heaven, etc. The movement to officially recognise the Queenship of Mary was initially promoted by several Catholic Mariological congresses in Lyon, France, Freiburg, Germany, and Einsiedeln, Switzerland. Pro Regalitate Mariae, an international society to promote the Queenship of Mary, was founded in Rome, Italy by noted Marioligist and writer Father Gabriel Roschini.

– The Patron Saint Index

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Judges 11:29-39

The spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah, who crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through to Mizpah in Gilead, and from Mizpah in Gilead made his way to the rear of the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, ‘If you deliver the Ammonites into my hands, then the first person to meet me from the door of my house when I return in triumph from fighting the Ammonites shall belong to the Lord, and I will offer him up as a holocaust. Jephthah marched against the Ammonites to attack them, and the Lord delivered them into his power. He harassed them from Aroer almost to Minnith (twenty towns) and to Abel-keramim. It was a very severe defeat, and the Ammonites were humbled before the Israelites.

As Jephthah returned to his house at Mizpah, his daughter came out from it to meet him; she was dancing to the sound of timbrels. This was his only child; apart from her he had neither son nor daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and exclaimed, ‘Oh my daughter, what sorrow you are bringing me! Must it be you, the cause of my ill-fortune! I have given a promise to the Lord, and I cannot unsay what I have said.’ She answered him, ‘My father, you have given a promise to the Lord; treat me as the vow you took binds you to, since the Lord has given you vengeance on your enemies the Ammonites.’ Then she said to her father, ‘Grant me one request. Let me be free for two months. I shall go and wander in the mountains, and with my companions bewail my virginity.’ He answered, ‘Go’, and let her depart for two months. So she went away with her companions and bewailed her virginity in the mountains. When the two months were over, she returned to her father, and he treated her as the vow that he had uttered bound him. She had never known a man.
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Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

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come to the wedding

It is that time of year at work, when we send out invites to our various ceremonies and events, manage RSVPs, seating plans and protocol. As our institution grows and as more and more relationships are formed, we need to ensure that no industry partner, no VIP is left out from our various invite lists. Amid the hurly-burly of organizing such ‘events’, my team gets the ‘dress code’ query or clarification most frequently because when it comes to dress code, the term ‘business attire’ can yield at least 5 different interpretations, depending on who one is dealing with.

Someone asked me once whether it really mattered if a guest came inappropriately attired so I turned the question round and asked if she would be displeased if someone came to her wedding in bermudas and flip flops. In my area of work and, for most weddings, it is all about ‘putting up a good show’ for guests who actually make the effort to turn up.

Upon first encountering today’s gospel text, it is only natural that one would think the king acted out of desperation by ‘rounding up’ people to attend his son’s wedding. But that wouldn’t explain why he would then throw out the guest who was not properly attired. So let’s shift our focus then to those who did not get to enjoy the celebration.

The guests who were on the initial invite list were probably too proud, too busy, too lazy or just did not care enough to bother. In fact, some even killed the messengers that the king sent down. Brothers and sisters, are we not like them when we sin and hurt God with our pride, ingratitude and laziness in our prayer life? We give excuses for not attending mass, not spending time with Jesus in daily prayer, for wounding others with our anger, for not caring for those who need a helping hand, for not respecting our parents, for not showing love to our loved ones.

And then there is the one who turned up inappropriately dressed for the celebration. Let us examine ourselves and look deep within our hearts – are we truly living out the life that God planned for us? Or are we floating along and just letting the tide take us wherever it happens to be going. In the face of growing secularism and relativism, is our spirit resolute and firm? Or do we sway with public opinion about abortion and same-sex marriage? Are we ready to appear before the Lord, cloaked in our Sunday best when he invites us to His dinner table? Because brothers and sisters, there is no disguise that the Lord can’t see through. For He alone knows our hearts, He alone knows whether or not we are worthy of a place side by side with Jesus, our Saviour.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
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Prayer: Lord show us how we can be deserving of an invite from you.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for inviting us to your banquet and sharing your heavenly meal with us.