Hi! Today we welcome Benjamin Mao, a new contributor to OXYGEN. We are really happy to have Ben on board and hope he grows in this journey of writing reflections and sharing the glory of our Lord with all of our readers. Here is a little about Benjamin:
In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings.
And they cried out to one another in this way,
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
His glory fills the whole earth.’
The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:
‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost,
for I am a man of unclean lips
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:
‘See now, this has touched your lips,
your sin is taken away,
your iniquity is purged.’
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:
‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’
I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you – believing anything else will not lead to anything.
Well then, in the first place, I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve. Next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles; and last of all he appeared to me too; it was as though I was born when no one expected it.
I am the least of the apostles; in fact, since I persecuted the Church of God, I hardly deserve the name apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am, and the grace that he gave me has not been fruitless. On the contrary, I, or rather the grace of God that is with me, have worked harder than any of the others; but what matters is that I preach what they preach, and this is what you all believed.
Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.
When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.
‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’ I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’
In today’s gospel, we find ourselves reading a very familiar miracle. But yet, what is the message that God has for us?
‘Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you – believing anything else will not lead to anything.’ (1 Cor 15:1-2)
We have been reading the gospel weekly for years but have we believed? Sometimes, I find we get trapped in the routine of going to church each week in order that we may be saved, an insurance just in case there’s an afterlife. There is hardly any belief, hardly any relationship with God.
For the longest time, I’ve wondered how God is able to communicate with me through the gospel. There’s a saying that ‘many will like to understand before they believe, but maybe it’s time we believe first in order that we may understand’. Believing anything else will not lead to anything.
When Simon, James and John, saw the catch they had made after bringing their boats back, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Isn’t it amazing and yet confusing? Being fishermen was their job. However, having not caught anything prior to encountering Jesus, they should have been overwhelmed and thinking about the amount of money they would be making from the catch, as well as a time off from fishing that they would have. Instead, they gave up their whole lives, even their catch, and followed Christ.
For me, it was precisely such an encounter which has made giving everything I have worth the while; for it is God who has given me everything in the first place. It’s about trusting that God understands and He knows. That He provides, that He is sufficient. That we will not be trapped in routines but understand the very purpose of why we started it in the first place, what made us fall in love and to continuously fall in love every single day.
For now that Christ has begun the ‘fishing’ of men, let us too be grateful for all the ‘catches’ He has given us, for us to continue His work to be ‘fishers’ of men. For when the Lord asks, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’ My answer is, ‘Here I am, send me.’
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we pray for courage to trust you. More so when things do not go as planned or go our way. Help us to rekindle this joy and passion of why we have chosen our relationships and this path of life. Help us to find our identity again, help us to find it in You.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for your abundant blessings and your patience with our reluctance in surrendering to you. Thank you for your understanding and never-faltering love. Amen.