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
I, Daniel, have been seeing visions in the night. I saw that the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea; four great beasts emerged from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings; and as I looked its wings were torn off, and it was lifted from the ground and set standing on its feet like a man; and it was given a human heart. The second beast I saw was different, like a bear, raised up on one of its sides, with three ribs in its mouth, between its teeth. “Up!” came the command “Eat quantities of flesh!” After this I looked, and saw another beast, like a leopard, and with four bird’s wings on its flanks; it had four heads, and power was given to it. Next I saw another vision in the visions of the night: I saw a fourth beast, fearful, terrifying, very strong; it had great iron teeth, and it ate, crushed and trampled underfoot what remained. It was different from the previous beasts and had ten horns.
While I was looking at these horns, I saw another horn sprouting among them, a little one; three of the original horns were pulled out by the roots to make way for it; and in this horn I saw eyes like human eyes, and a mouth that was full of boasts. As I watched:
Thrones were set in place
and one of great age took his seat.
His robe was white as snow,
the hair of his head as pure as wool.
His throne was a blaze of flames,
its wheels were a burning fire.
A stream of fire poured out,
issuing from his presence.
A thousand thousand waited on him,
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
A court was held
and the books were opened.
The great things the horn was saying were still ringing in my ears, and as I watched, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and committed to the flames. The other beasts were deprived of their power, but received a lease of life for a season and a time.
I gazed into the visions of the night.
And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven,
one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age
and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty,
glory and kingship,
and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
which shall never pass away,
nor will his empire ever be destroyed.
Jesus told his disciples a parable: ‘Think of the fig tree and indeed every tree. As soon as you see them bud, you know that summer is now near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’
And men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants
During my usual Facebook “surfing” in the morning, I chanced upon an interesting post. It was about the commercial brand GAP. As part of their holiday campaign, they had released a series of advertisements featuring a diverse variety of models who were making a difference in the world. One of their featured models was Sikh actor and jewellery designer Waris Ahluwalia. Sadly, one of the subway advertisements featuring him was defaced and the caption “Make Love” was changed to “Make Bombs”. Indignant at this act, Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor at The Islamic Monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com posted the picture on his Twitter and Facebook account to highlight how “brown people” were being seen by Americans today. This caused a stir among many in the Sikh and Muslim communities. Amazingly, GAP reacted almost immediately. They tracked down the location of the defaced advertisement and changed the background of their Twitter account to that of Mr Waris Ahluwalia’s advertisement, demonstrating their support for Mr Waris and a strong stand against racism in modern day America.
Reading the story, I was greatly moved by how this huge commercial entity had reacted. Many of us would agree that Christmas has become increasingly commercialised over the years. The focus seems to be more on consumerism rather than on the infant found in a dirty manger and born in a dilapidated stable. We seem to forget what Christmas truly means. It is heartening therefore (and even mindblowing), to read about a profit-making company making a stand and reminding people about what the holiday spirit truly is – one of sharing love.
In today’s first reading, we see one like a son of man coming before the one of great age (i.e. God). That is Jesus – and upon him is conferred all power, sovereignty, glory and kingship. And men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants. It is easy sometimes, to forget this truth. Living in a world where there is a diversity of people of various beliefs, it is difficult to envision such a scene at the moment. However, we are the people of God, and we bear his light to the people around us. It is heartwarming to know that regardless of our beliefs or religion, love is a principle that binds us all. To know love is to know God – because God is love. This Christmas, let us keep our eyes peeled and our ears open to share love with people in need of it and to affirm those who readily give it.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Dear Father, we pray that this Christmas let us be fundamental instruments in spreading your love and the Christmas cheer.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Father for those who warm hearts with their very acts of love and kindness. May they continue to be an inspiration to all and motivate us in the spirit of Christmas.