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 before 10 March 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
Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons, for he was the son of his old age, and he had a coat with long sleeves made for him. But his brothers, seeing how his father loved him more than all his other sons, came to hate him so much that they could not say a civil word to him.
His brothers went to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem. Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers with the flock at Shechem? Come, I am going to send you to them.’ So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
They saw him in the distance, and before he reached them they made a plot among themselves to put him to death. ‘Here comes the man of dreams’ they said to one another. ‘Come on, let us kill him and throw him into some well; we can say that a wild beast devoured him. Then we shall see what becomes of his dreams.’
But Reuben heard, and he saved him from their violence. ‘We must not take his life’ he said. ‘Shed no blood,’ said Reuben to them ‘throw him into this well in the wilderness, but do not lay violent hands on him’ – intending to save him from them and to restore him to his father. So, when Joseph reached his brothers, they pulled off his coat, the coat with long sleeves that he was wearing, and catching hold of him they threw him into the well, an empty well with no water in it. They then sat down to eat.
Looking up they saw a group of Ishmaelites who were coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, tragacanth, balsam and resin, which they were taking down into Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What do we gain by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let us not do any harm to him. After all, he is our brother, and our own flesh.’ His brothers agreed.
Now some Midianite merchants were passing, and they drew Joseph up out of the well. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver pieces, and these men took Joseph to Egypt.
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?
‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’
When they heard his parables, the chief priests and the scribes realised he was speaking about them, but though they would have liked to arrest him they were afraid of the crowds, who looked on him as a prophet.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone….
When I was applying for college – I wanted very badly to go to this one particular university. I even opted to put in an early admission application – committing myself to attend this school should I get an offer. But when I got the “thin letter” back informing me that my application was rejected – I was devastated.
Rejection can be a very bitter pill to swallow. It makes one feel as though they are not qualified enough to do certain things or good enough to be a part of something. Pain, sadness and anger usually forms in one’s heart after being rejected. If left unresolved, those feelings can lead to a crisis in one’s self-esteem and confidence levels. In order to cope, one might tend towards self-destructive activities that are harmful emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually.
However – we could also view rejection as an opportunity to grow and learn. Some of the most notable academics, athletes, politicians and business people had to face numerous failings before they achieved success. Rather than accept other’s subjective judgement about them – they pushed on, striving towards self-improvement each time. JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected by numerous publishers before finally being accepted by one. She struggled with depression, unemployment and the need to raise a child as a single mother. But in spite of all those challenges she continued to push ahead with her first book – which eventually led her to become one of the best-selling authors of all time. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling
Rejection should also be seen as God’s direction in our lives. As with the story of Joseph – it was his brothers’ act of rejection that led Joseph to eventually end up in a position of authority in Egypt. When Joseph crosses paths with his brothers many years later, he had by then, the authority to punish them for their prior misdeeds – but opts instead to forgive them. For he understood that his personal trials and suffering had to occur in order to save God’s people from the famine that they faced at the time.
Friends – let us trust in the Lord when things in life aren’t working out exactly as we had hoped for and see these as opportunities where He reveal His goodness. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)
Prayer – Heavenly Father, we pray for those experiencing rejection and persecution. We pray that You provide them sustenance while Your will be done.
Thanksgiving – Lord, we give thanks to You for the times when we eventually see the purpose of rejection. I thank You for my own personal journey and for remaining merciful to me even during the times I have rejected You.