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
On this mountain,
the Lord of Hosts will prepare for all peoples
a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines,
of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.
On this mountain he will remove
the mourning veil covering all peoples,
and the shroud enwrapping all nations,
he will destroy Death for ever.
The Lord will wipe away
the tears from every cheek;
he will take away his people’s shame
everywhere on earth,
for the Lord has said so.
That day, it will be said: See, this is our God
in whom we hoped for salvation;
the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.
We exult and we rejoice
that he has saved us;
for the hand of the Lord
rests on this mountain.
Jesus reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and he went up into the hills. He sat there, and large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.
But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this deserted place to feed such a crowd?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said ‘and a few small fish.’ Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks and broke them and handed them to the disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.
They all ate as much as they wanted
It took me a long time in my faith journey before I could come to terms with the idea that God loves me. I just could not figure out why. Yes, there is a Creator responsible for everything that is here on earth, but this being could very well be a detached figure, or couldn’t He? There is so much beauty and wonder around that it does make sense that all these are created out of love. But to come to a comprehension that He loves me in a personal way, I had to really learn to open myself, face up to my insecurities and fears, and allow myself to experience that love.
Father Bruno, a priest in my parish, often emphasizes in his homilies that God’s love is already given to us at a “maximum” – there can be no more and no less, it is overflowing and in complete abundance. This is illustrated in the gospel reading for today, where Jesus multiplied seven loaves, seven being the symbolic number for perfection in the bible, to feed thousands. There were probably all kinds of people in the crowd, but because they were there, with Jesus, they received the loaves and fish, and each ate to their fill. Jesus did not multiply the loaves in a calculated fashion to prevent wastage of food, but provided an endless supply of bread, without reservation and bias.
Hence, in the light of this complete unconditional outpouring of love, there is no need for anyone to specifically do things so as to merit His love, but rather, we should take the perspective of how we should respond to that love. Jesus had already instructed His followers on how to do it, by loving God back, and loving our neighbor. The latter is the one that appears to be more challenging, but really, if we are unable to let go of any unhappiness with our neighbor, we are also unable to fully bask in His love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for all the people in the past year whom we have had conflict with, gossiped about, and bore grudges against, and ask our loving Lord for His forgiveness and grace to let go and not continue to stain our relationship with these people.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the gift of loving and fulfilling relationships in our lives.