Daily Archives: July 1, 2016

2 July, Saturday – Same Life, New Perspective

2 July

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Amos 9:11-15

It is the Lord who speaks:

‘That day I will re-erect the tottering hut of David,
make good the gaps in it, restore its ruins
and rebuild it as it was in the days of old,
so that they can conquer the remnant of Edom
and all the nations that belonged to me.’

It is the Lord who speaks, and he will carry this out.

‘The days are coming now – it is the Lord who speaks –
when harvest will follow directly after ploughing,
the treading of grapes soon after sowing,
when the mountains will run with new wine
and the hills all flow with it.
I mean to restore the fortunes of my people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them,
plant vineyards and drink their wine,
dig gardens and eat their produce.
I will plant them in their own country,
never to be rooted up again
out of the land I have given them,
says the Lord, your God.’

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Matthew 9:14-17

John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth on to an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.’

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No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.

There was a period of time where the various parts of the 20-year-old car which I owned started to break down in rapid succession. First it was the timing belt, followed by the air-conditioner, the retraction mechanism for the windows, the rack and pinion and finally the windscreen wipers. In the end, the mechanic who repaired my car commented that if I continued with the replacement, the only thing which would have been remained in the original state would be the car plate number! It seems that the car cannot have a combination of both old and new parts together because the old parts would eventually give way as the new parts would work them harder thus accelerating their useful life-span.

Perhaps this is analogous to our spiritual lives too. God invites us to a total acceptance of the way he desires of us. The life of a Christian is not meant to be like a buffet where we can pick and choose the beliefs we like but more like a bento box where everything is presented to us in one, self-contained vessel where we have no option of choice of food. This then requires us to discard our former ways of life and embrace the way which God has invited us to live.

This is often difficult for us to subscribe to because there will be certain teachings which we cannot agree with. Yet, I believe it is the process in which we work towards understanding why a certain teaching needs to be understood in a particular way, will we then be able to appreciate the love of God in our lives. It is in challenges that we discover what it means to be a child of God. As we work towards this process, we will be able to discover the wonderful love which God has shared with us and fruits of living out such a life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the courage to accept the challenge you have given us to live the way of life you so desire of us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who guide people to a new way of life.

1 July, Friday – Salvation Does Not Belong Just to Us

1 July 

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Amos 8:4-6,9-12

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy
and try to suppress the poor people of the country,
you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over
so that we can sell our corn,
and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?
Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel,
by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money,
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’
That day – it is the Lord who speaks –
I will make the sun go down at noon,
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I am going to turn your feasts into funerals,
all your singing into lamentation;
I will have your loins all in sackcloth,
your heads all shaved.
I will make it a mourning like the mourning for an only son,
as long as it lasts it will be like a day of bitterness.
See what days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
days when I will bring famine on the country,
a famine not of bread, a drought not of water,
but of hearing the word of the Lord.
They will stagger from sea to sea,
wander from north to east,
seeking the word of the Lord
and failing to find it.

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Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus was walking on he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’

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 “And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but the sick.”

I sometimes wonder why it is easy for us born into the Catholic faith to judge those of other denominations, especially those who belong to the newer churches. I’ve heard Catholics say that these brothers and sisters of ours just seem to be drifting from church group to church group. Not really sticking to one and always in search of that something – that special connection with God. In truth, this does not, in any way, make their form of worship wrong. In fact, I believe that God calls all of us to worship him differently.

In a way, we’re behaving like the Pharisees in today’s gospel. We believe we are the ‘elite’ who should have ‘exclusive access’ to Jesus, greeting and celebrating Him with all the necessary protocols in place. Now, I’m in no way putting down our rituals and sacraments. They are just as important as prayers, sacrifice and charity in Christian living; instead, I’m asking that we do not put down those who do not follow these customs.

We need to remember that Jesus came down from heaven to find and heal the lost and injured. To save them and to show them God’s love and mercy. Think about it — no one asks a doctor to make a house call if they’re well or are just in need of a check-up; it is always when we are so sick or left immobile that we call emergency and ask for an ambulance. Or call the clinic to ask a physician to come to our bedside.

Essentially, this is what today’s Gospel is trying to tell us. God made an appointment with His Son, Jesus, to treat and heal us. The tax collectors and sinners were the ones who needed ‘treatment.’; not the Pharisees who, seemingly, knew what already needed to be done in order to enter heaven.

After all, would those who believed that they were right wish to listen to someone tell them how to do what they thought they already knew what to do? No. Instead, those who are at a loss as to what to do, or have seen the error of their ways, are the ones who might actually listen and follow. Those whose spirits are craving to be back with God.

And it’s not just those who seem to be drifting from church to church or clinging on to ways we Catholics deem different from our own that need saving. We ourselves are just as lost, if not more, and are in just as much need of Jesus’ teachings, mercy and gift of salvation.

(Today’s Oxygen by Rebecca Grace)

Prayer – Lord, we pray that we may never judge others who have heeded your call, no matter what their past may be. Help us see that no Christian is perfect, only forgiven and saved by your merciful love.

Thanksgiving – We give thanks for sending your Son to save us from the shackles of sin. It was through his suffering and bloodshed that we were able to be reunited with you. Amen.