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.
With shepherd’s crook, O Lord, lead your people to pasture,
the flock that is your heritage,
living confined in a forest
with meadow land all around.
Let them pasture in Bashan and Gilead
as in the days of old.
As in the days when you came out of Egypt
grant us to see wonders.
What god can compare with you: taking fault away,
not cherishing anger for ever
but delighting in showing mercy?
Once more have pity on us,
tread down our faults,
to the bottom of the sea
throw all our sins.
Grant Jacob your faithfulness,
and Abraham your mercy,
as you swore to our fathers
from the days of long ago.
The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:
‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.
‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.
‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”
‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’
Taking fault away
I am pretty sure everyone has experienced being the ‘new guy/gal’ in the office, or lab, wherever you work in. You are being given various instructions from all levels of staff on how to do perhaps just one task. You get confused, while working on the task following someone’s instruction, another comes along to give his or her own opinion on how that should be done. Being the ‘new kid on the block’, you would not want to offend anyone and change to the new method. Then you get a third opinion, and only over time, will you find your own way of executing your work without external influences. Do you remember the time where you are being told to do something and a much senior colleague ask you ‘who told you to do it this way’? You will be wondering if you should tell on someone or just take the blame for that minor error which you were told to perform?
Based on my experience, there are very few moments whereby someone will admit and take the fault away from you. They assume that you will learn over time and experience in the harsh reality of work. In today’s reading and Gospel, the reality is indeed God will take all faults away if you surrender to Him. Be like the prodigal son asking for forgiveness after all the gallivanting, he went back to his home where he realized that is where love and comfort will always be. Do we know where our comfort will be? Where will be ultimately go to when in urgent need of comfort? I am not talking about chocolates, comfort food or even your favourite comedy. We look for our loved ones and the relationships around us, looking for someone to share our distressed emotions with perhaps. We find a venue for us to cry out our hurt and probably asking for forgiveness from a friend.
How about God? Will we turn to Him and cry out our sins and beg for forgiveness, like prophet Micah? We often look after our emotional and physical needs, but neglect the strong spirit inside of us. For us Christians, we forgot about the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. A very powerful presence of God is living in us in every moment. Therefore, we should silent our hearts and speak to God, the Spirit inside of us, asking our Father for the graces we deserve, and so forgive others as He has forgiven you.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Almighty Father, I come to you with my head bow down, with humility and sincerity, that this Lent be a little stepping stone to be aware of my sins and I ask for Your forgiveness.
Thanksgiving: O Lord, You gave us Your Son Jesus, sent down the Holy Spirit upon us, what more can I ask for when You gave us the greatest gift of Love.