Dear Readers, it is the second week of Lent. As OXYGEN tradition holds, we have our Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors to share their reflections on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings. On this day, there is a beautiful Liturgy of the Word where 7 different Readings from the Old Testament Scriptures are accompanied by a Responsarial Psalm, reminding us of God’s undying faithfulness, amidst our faithlessness. The Epistle (typically Second Reading) and Gospel passage then remind us of God’s covenant promise to us through Christ Jesus. Many churches also celebrate Easter Vigil together with Baptism of our Catechumens and Candidates who have spent a year in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) journey. The Sacrament of Baptism is a physical and covenantal mark of our belovedness in the Father’s eyes, our kinship with Jesus Christ, and a renewal of Baptismal promises for the faithful. A wonderful springtime after our Lenten journey!
Some of you may feel a little spark of fire and desire to share what God has done for you or shown you this Lent. We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit’s nudge may inspire you to action. Write to us: oxygen[at]thecatholicwriter.com and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass (these would be simple as each reflection is based on one reading).
Want to show your encouragement to our team? Do share a testimonial of how OXYGEN has touched you. Alternatively, if you wish to help keep OXYGEN Ministry going with a love offering, it can be done through: keep my OXYGEN pumping. (Link can also be found on our main website. Contributions in this form go towards the upkeep of our website and newsletter hosting platform.)
Thank you for being a part of our OXYGEN community and for keeping our team of contributors going with your words of affirmation. We dedicate our labour unto the Lord’s glory always! It is He who enables and empowers us through these years.
Debbie on behalf of OXYGEN
‘Come on,’ they said, ‘let us concoct a plot against Jeremiah; the priest will not run short of instruction without him, nor the sage of advice, nor the prophet of the word. Come on, let us hit at him with his own tongue; let us listen carefully to every word he says.’
Listen to me, O Lord,
hear what my adversaries are saying.
Should evil be returned for good?
For they are digging a pit for me.
Remember how I stood in your presence
to plead on their behalf,
to turn your wrath away from them.
Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, and on the way he took the Twelve to one side and said to them, ‘Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the pagans to be mocked and scourged and crucified; and on the third day he will rise again.’
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, ‘What is it you want?’ She said to him, ‘Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said ‘you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.’
When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
Must good be repaid with evil…?
The term “frenemy” is used to describe a relationship one might have with another person who acts as a friend, but in reality is only using that friendship to advance their own personal agenda. Frenemies can also be people with whom you’re genuinely friends with, but also at the same time have a direct rivalry against. In the workplace setting, frenemies can be prevalent because of the competitive and cooperative needs of the advancing business objectives as a team while also wanting to demonstrate one’s own individual contribution. Managing these relationships can be complex – especially as a Christian when we are being “persecuted” in the workplace. It requires the Holy Sprit’s guidance to ensure that we are acting and treating others according to His will.
In the Old Testament reading from today – we examine Jeremiah’s pleading to God as he faces persecution from the very same people that he’s trying to forewarn about the impending judgement they were to face. At that time, the Israelites had turned away from God and worshipped idols which directly went against His commandment to love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind. Being a patient and merciful God, He chose Jeremiah to proclaim to the Israelites that their sinful ways were unacceptable to the Lord. Although Jeremiah faithfully follows in the Word of God, the same people that Jeremiah was trying to save decided to plot his demise. He pleads to God and laments on why he finds himself in such misfortune asking a very fundamental question (that we all probably ask when faced with our own trials) – Must good be repaid with evil…?
Jesus would reply by saying – “No, but evil must be repaid by good.” As detailed in the Gospel reading from today, Jesus foretells to His disciples that upon entering Jerusalem – He will face betrayal, torture and eventually death at the hands of the same people that Jesus was trying to save. Yet – Christ does not lament about His situation. He neither wishes ill nor suffering on His tormentors, but selflessly and mercifully continues to care for those around him. As He was about to be arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus willingly submits to His captors noting “ Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”. As He was being led away, Jesus heals the high priest’s servant. As He was being interrogated by the high priest Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate, He neither boasts of His divinity nor insults His persecutors. As He hung on the cross nearly lifeless, Jesus pleads “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Friends – the Lord loved us even as sinners. He asks us to love others (even our enemies) even more than we love ourselves. As Paul teaches…
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12: 9-21)
(Today’s Oxygen by Steven Su)
Prayer – Lord, we pray that You examine our hearts and point out to us all the ways in which we are not being true to You and to others. Help us to be more like Jesus – the salt and light of the world.
Thanksgiving – Father, we give thanks to You for the blessing of friendships. May we encourage one another and help lift each other up, in the loving name of Jesus Christ. Amen.