Dear Readers, today we have a new contributor – Rebecca Grace – to join our OXYGEN family! Rebecca responded to our Christmas Day call last year for volunteers to share their faith reflections. It is wonderful to now have her on board. Here’s a little bit about Rebecca Grace:
The name is Rebecca and I am a born and bred city girl from Kuala Lumpur who was sent away (yes, unwillingly) to Penang to pursue my degree in biotechnology. There, I learnt how to grow up, become independent and, at the exact same time, become more dependent on God. I loved learning biotechnology but my calling seemed to have been in journalism and this is where I’ve been for the past two years. OXYGEN became a daily affair when a work contact Josephine Dionisappu told me they were looking for contributors for the Christmas season. Her timing couldn’t be more perfect as I had broken my leg on an assignment and was stuck at home for at least six weeks with nothing to do besides watch the rest of the family get ready for Christmas, and boring satellite TV. My first thought about writing the reflections was “Why not? This could be push me to get in touch with God through the Bible and not just solely on prayer. This could be my chance to actually hear Him and not my own voice.” Kind of like reading a text message in a rock concert. The noise distraction is there but if you focus on the lit-up screen, the words will sink in. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to OXYGEN.
In the days of Josiah, the word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying:
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.
‘So now brace yourself for action.
Stand up and tell them
all I command you.
Do not be dismayed at their presence,
or in their presence I will make you dismayed.
‘I, for my part, today will make you
into a fortified city,
a pillar of iron,
and a wall of bronze
to confront all this land:
the kings of Judah, its princes,
its priests and the country people.
They will fight against you
but shall not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you –
it is the Lord who speaks.’
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.
If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.
In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.
Jesus began to speak in the synagogue: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’
But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’ And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’
When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.
Wars, the migrant crisis, earthquakes, floods. All these disasters (among others) and sadness plaguing the world has most of us talking a lot. Filling our newsfeeds and conversations with a million suggestions on how to help those affected, or condemning those who started the problems in the first place.
Yet, how many of us can truly say that we’re speaking out of love, care and compassion instead of a want to appear righteous and just? It’s amazing how much we’re willing to give our two cents worth on an issue but immediately stumble and stutter when asked what we’re doing to help fix the situation.
“Words with actions,” is the core message when Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, and it’s a message that we need to be reminded of constantly. We need to feed our souls, not our egos.
It is easy to forget that we’re not just here to speak of God’s works but actually do them as well. God has called us to be His hands on Earth when we were baptized.
Today’s readings remind us on the importance of action over words. Action is a form of love. Jesus has called us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. It is not enough to just talk any more but we need to get ourselves involved and actually do something. I can practically hear the excuses spilling out of your mouths but hear me out. Time is tight for most of us, but we can always donate money or items to help ease the burden of the afflicted. If money is an issue, spend a few hours with your friends or family helping in shelters or homes instead. It is still time with your loved ones and you’re spending it by helping to spread God’s love to the world.
So dear brothers and sisters, let us play our parts as Catholics and extend a helping hand to our downtrodden neighbours. No action is too small nor any gesture too big in the eyes of God. So long as it is done with a good heart.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Rebecca Grace)
Prayer: Lord, bless us with the conviction to reach out and help those most in need.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks, dear God, for the abundance you blessed us with in order to help our downtrodden neighbours.