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
That day, the branch of the Lord
shall be beauty and glory,
and the fruit of the earth
shall be the pride and adornment
of Israel’s survivors.
Those who are left of Zion
and remain of Jerusalem
shall be called holy
and those left in Jerusalem, noted down for survival.
When the Lord has washed away
the filth of the daughter of Zion
and cleansed Jerusalem of the blood shed in her
with the blast of judgement and the blast of destruction,
the Lord will come and rest
on the whole stretch of Mount Zion
and on those who are gathered there,
a cloud by day, and smoke,
and by night the brightness of a flaring fire.
For, over all, the glory of the Lord
will be a canopy and a tent
to give shade by day from the heat,
refuge and shelter from the storm and the rain.
When Jesus went into Capernaum a centurion came up and pleaded with him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘my servant is lying at home paralysed, and in great pain.’ ‘I will come myself and cure him’ said Jesus. The centurion replied, ‘Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this. And I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.’
Nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this
Socially and politically, Jesus, as a Jew, was below the centurion in rank and status. Judaism is not a religion of the Romans, yet this centurion apparently forked out his money for the construction of a synagogue. The centurion not only displayed unusual concern about the “lowly” folks working for him, he also placed his trust in a man whom he had probably only heard of. He had sufficient faith to expect Jesus to say the word and heal his servant there and then, without having to minister to the servant personally. He acknowledged and totally believed in Jesus’ spiritual authority, just like how he knew his own authority when it comes to commanding the soldiers and servants under him. How he came to think this way without actually interacting with Jesus, I do not know, and even Jesus himself expressed amazement.
What can we learn from this? We say these very words at mass every week, but do we truly trust as the centurion does? I think that if we are able to trust, then we will be able to make the decision to be happy, to let go and let God. Sometimes, physical or deep emotional pain makes one incapable of feeling any emotion of happiness, but then it will boil down to what sustains one at the very core of his/her being. Is there that deep inner conviction that God is present, and God will love and cradle us in His arms like how he held Lazarus?
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith itself is a gift, and I see it as a sort of perseverance and hanging on even when all circumstances seem to be against one, just because we believe in God, and in doing the right thing according to God’s will. “…for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen the core of our faith, so that we can be resilient in times of trial.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the gift of faith, that allows us the grace to see the invisible hand of God.