Thank you for journeying with us all this while. The liturgical year is coming to an end, and the OXYGEN team would like to invite interested writers to contribute a reflection or two for the Christmas mass readings at the end of this year. If you feel called to put the sharing of your faith into writing, please do drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
The OXYGEN team
Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.
Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’
Love does no evil to the neighbour; hence, love is the fulfillment of the Law
Naturally, we would find it absurd when Lord Jesus stated that if the person came to Him without hating his family and even his own life, he could not become His disciple because we know that within Ten Commandments, we ought to love God and our neighbours as ourselves. We might be confused by this statement if we do not have a relationship with Him. Years ago, my mum, a devout Taoist, told me harshly, “This Man (Jesus) is only for the ‘white man’. Not for us Chinese. He does not like you,” when I told her that I came to believe in Jesus and express my wish to convert to Catholicism. Later, I put myself in her shoes and reflected on her perspective. When she was a very young child, she was sold to an adoptive family in Malaysia as her biological family faced severe financial difficulties. My maternal grandfather died young, resulting her wife as the only breadwinner for the family. Although my mother had returned to her biological family when she grew up, she had been avoiding her relatives and would not turn up at the family gatherings. I still remembered her telling me during every Chinese New Year season, “Aiyah, first day is very crowded. So many people go there (My maternal grandmother’s home). We go and see Por Por on second day. Okay?” She had little education and was somehow reclusive around people. When my maternal grandmother passed away a few years ago, my family then reunited and became much closer to each other.
I understood that my mother had undergone difficult times and had very little encounters with any really nice person. I realized that this resulted in her hardened heart, and the inability to love freely. It was difficult for her to accept the person of Jesus whom she never heard nor seen before, and so she chose to put up walls around her heart.
Likewise, when we do not know personally, or have a close relationship with God, we cannot understand His ways and teachings. Do you have any best friends? If so, can you instantly know what your friends are thinking before they speak out? This principle can be applied to our relationship with God. When Lord Jesus mentioned that His disciple should be one who hated his family and own life, He did not literally mean it, but is challenging us to see His Wisdom. After all, we have only been learning from our earthly lessons and forming our own perspectives. Without letting go of our own preconceptions, it would be tough for us to embrace God’s ways. Lord Jesus is telling us that we ought to put God as the center of our lives. Without God, we cannot picture the perfect love, for love comes from God. Without God, we can easily distort love and manipulate it in the wrong way. With God as our top priority, we can be sure that we are learning perfect love, emptying ourselves for others as Jesus did. There is a permanent “nail” on my memory that I intend to store there for a lifetime: “To have knowledge, you must first have reverence for the Lord.” (Proverbs 1:7) True love comes from God, and to know God is to begin with reverence for Him.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Michael Goo)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant the conversion of the world so that everyone may believe in Your Beloved Son, Lord Jesus, repent and come back to you like the Prodigal Son for You are full of Love. Be patient with us and give us the grace of great love. We ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for the gift of great love.