30 Nov – 1st Sunday of Advent
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
The Day of the Lord
Today we rejoice that the night of our long pilgrimage to God’s eternal city, the new Jerusalem, will soon be over. The Lord’s unending Day is dawning. Already, in the words of Isaiah, we see ‘the mountain of the Temple of the Lord’ etched against the eastern sky. Let us wake up and stand ready.
– The Sunday Missal
The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In the days to come
the mountain of the Temple of the Lord
shall tower above the mountains
and be lifted higher than the hills.
All the nations will stream to it,
peoples without number will come to it; and they will say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob
that he may teach us his ways
so that we may walk in his paths;
since the Law will go out from Zion,
and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’
He will wield authority over the nations
and adjudicate between many peoples;
these will hammer their swords into ploughshares,
their spears into sickles.
Nation will not lift sword against nation,
there will be no more training for war.
O House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.
You know ‘the time’ has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon – let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light. Let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.
‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’
Let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark
There is a line from the book Life of Pi that really struck me when I read it – “A person could get used to anything, even to killing.” It is quite a chilling assertion, but I think it is also very true, and this adaptability is possibly a key cause of people being trapped in sin, sometimes without knowing it. Biologically, we are engineered to be adaptable, else we will die off quickly in new environments, but I think this ability to get used to change also gives us the ability to make a habit out of ignoring that “little angel” voice of conscience in our minds.
In today’s second reading, St Paul encourages his readers to “give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark.” It seems fine and good that we are not going against the commandments outright, like causing harm to others, but how about our thoughts and words? Jealously of another, perhaps? Saying certain things that indirectly put others down and make ourselves look better? Intentionally denying help to others in need? These are the stuff of the darkness that St Paul talks about, things that we might write in private journals at night, share guiltily with God in personal prayer, but will never see the light of day as we would be too ashamed to reveal them.
As a middle manager in my work, I am coming across situations where I find it challenging to tread that line between objectively evaluating an officer’s performance, versus plain sharing of gossip about that person. Gossip has a strange appeal of the forbidden for those of us not used to indulging in it. I am also uncomfortably aware that the moment I rationalize to myself that this kind of talk is necessary for information, only for information and nothing else, I would start to adopt it as a habit.
Like what they say about addictions and other vices, the key is to nip the problem in the bud before it gets worse. I should probably have gone for confession when the memory of it is still fresh, but I did not. Already I am forgetting the guilt and discomfort I felt, and it will quickly fade into a distant memory. I can only pray for the wisdom and grace to put my love for others above that of my own selfish inclinations.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for a heart of compassion and love that will override any selfish thoughts to go against one’s conscience.
Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for people in our lives who have, in one way or another, encouraged and inspired us to walk in the way of the Lord.