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
My brothers, I am quite certain that you are full of good intentions, perfectly well instructed and able to advise each other. The reason why I have written to you, and put some things rather strongly, is to refresh your memories, since God has given me this special position. He has appointed me as a priest of Jesus Christ, and I am to carry out my priestly duty by bringing the Good News from God to the pagans, and so make them acceptable as an offering, made holy by the Holy Spirit.
I think I have some reason to be proud of what I, in union with Christ Jesus, have been able to do for God. What I am presuming to speak of, of course, is only what Christ himself has done to win the allegiance of the pagans, using what I have said and done by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus all the way along, from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I have preached Christ’s Good News to the utmost of my capacity. I have always, however, made it an unbroken rule never to preach where Christ’s name has already been heard. The reason for that was that I had no wish to build on other men’s foundations; on the contrary, my chief concern has been to fulfil the text: Those who have never been told about him will see him, and those who have never heard about him will understand.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”
Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”
‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.’
Prepare a full account of your stewardship
Are you aware that you have to answer to God for what you are doing at this moment and you had done in the past when you meet Him on that last day? Saint Paul even stated, “True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my Judge.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) Imagine a moment in which you meet God. What will you say to Him and what do you think He will tell you? We can only find out on that last day but we can use our hearts as the conductors to gauge where we are and how close we are to God. The closer your relationship with God is, the better you can guess what God is trying to tell you. It is much similar to our interactions with our friends. We can easily guess what our best or close friends are thinking before they speak out their thoughts. Remember that God is always on our side and faithful to us. For us, it is difficult to remain faithful all the time due to our fickleness of our hearts, as we are still moving dynamically through time and in a constant state of flux. All it takes is our decision to commit ourselves to God, regardless of what we are and we do.
Let us take an example of Saint Jerome, the Doctor of the Church. In his spiritual conversion, he had a dream in which he found himself before the judgment seat of Christ. When being asked by the Lord God to declare what he was, Jerome responded that he was a Christian. Much to his shock, God replied, “You lie. You are rather a Ciceronian, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Then, Jerome received his due punishment in the dream and woke up to find himself a completely changed man. Afterwards, he lived a life of extreme penance and mortification. I too shared the similar experience. Years ago, before my conversion, I had the dream where I saw Lord Jesus, the same apparition we found in common paintings. Lord Jesus approached me and without speaking, pointed His finger to certain dark area besides Him. He seemed to hint something. When I woke up, without thinking, I dropped everything and went straight to my parish Church near my home. Till this day, I have not regretted my decision to join the Catholic Church.
Every one of us may have differing experiences with God but nevertheless we have the same goal to enter into Heaven. After all, we are in one communion with God. Till this day, the message of our Lady of Fatima is still stuck in my mind: “If men only knew what eternity is, they would do anything in their power to change their lives.” In the Gospel, we may answer fully for the account of our stewardship and then find the termination of our stewardship in Heaven. But God will change our identities into the citizens of Heaven, because we are His children. Lord Jesus said, “I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (John 15: 15-16) We are called to communion with God through Holy Sacraments, the outward signs of inner grace, which bears the everlasting fruit: Eternal Life with God.
It is more encouraging to practice examination of our conscience of the whole day, every night before bedtime, because this is where we place ourselves humbly before the eyes of God. Sin is a reality, and chances are, we are saying, thinking, and doing things that are displeasing to God throughout the day. If you don’t think so, you are deceiving yourselves. Even better, go to confession, the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly even when your sins seem not to be serious, as the Saints encouraged it. Never underestimate the power of the Sacraments.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Michael Goo)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please forgive our shortcomings and sins for You know our weaknesses. Our spirts are willing but our fleshs are weak. Give us the graces all we need so as not to sin against You again. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for the gifts of the Holy Sacraments.