Daily Archives: November 13, 2016

Call for Contributors to write for Christmas

Dear reader of Oxygen,

The Oxygen team gives thanks to God for allowing us to see through the year of 2016 with grace and blessing.

As we approach the Christmas season, we would like to invite readers to consider a one-off contribution for Christmas Day.

Reflections for contribution

  1. Vigil Mass for Christmas
  2. Midnight Mass – Christmas
  3. Mass at Dawn – Christmas
  4. Mass in the Day – Christmas

If you have benefitted from our past reflections, this could be a small but meaningful gesture to give back to the community.

Please leave a comment at the end of this post indicating your interest and your email address for us to follow-up with you.

God bless you

Oxygen Core Team

14 November, Monday – Light from Light

14 November

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Apocalypse 1:1-4,2:1-5

This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that he could tell his servants about the things which are now to take place very soon; he sent his angel to make it known to his servant John, and John has written down everything he saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they treasure all that it says, because the Time is close.

From John, to the seven churches of Asia: grace and peace to you from him who is, who was, and who is to come, from the seven spirits in his presence before his throne.

I heard the Lord saying to me: ‘Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus and say, “Here is the message of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who lives surrounded by the seven golden lamp-stands: I know all about you: how hard you work and how much you put up with. I know you cannot stand wicked men, and how you tested the impostors who called themselves apostles and proved they were liars. Know, too, that you have patience, and have suffered for my name without growing tired. Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make; you have less love now than you used to. Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first.”’

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Luke 18:35-43

As Jesus drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Sir,’ he replied ‘let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.’ And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God for what had happened.

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Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.

Having grown up and lived in a bustling city almost all my life, and having recently relocated to another major city, I often find myself immersed in the sights and sounds that surround me. It is not a bad thing, especially when you are living alone in a strange new city, to have the company of people around all the time, music streaming out of shops and cafes, and the bright lights of a city alive with all sorts of interactions and possibilities.

Yet, I’ve found that it is also easy to lose yourself in the city, to become distracted by all the activities and communities that present themselves to you. Indeed, as I look out of my apartment window onto the streets below, I see people hustling to the nearby bar or cafe for another night out with friends. Ironically, it is silence that is so hard to find in the city. But it is also in silence that God speaks loudest to us.

Perhaps we are like the blind man in Jericho: we have lost our sight amid the sights and sounds of our lives; we perceive but we do not see. And no matter how much entertainment we are able to absorb, how often have you felt a tugging in the depths of your heart — that there must be more to life than this? How often do we binge on Netflix because having watched one episode of our favourite TV show, we feel dissatisfied and thus have to watch another episode to fill the emptiness? And after that, yet another episode. And it goes on.

And being distracted by the playground of the city, and not forgetting our ‘hard work and perseverance’, we also find  that we have “less love now than formerly”. In my favourite cafe by Harvard Square, I often look out of the windows and see two sets of people. First, there are the students rushing to get to class, or just ambling along answering emails or text messages on their smartphones. But no more than 3 feet from these students, who are all absorbed in their glowing screens, sit the homeless.

Truly, we are often too captivated by the man-made lights of our cities and smartphones to stop and look around us. If we do, we will see a world filled with both desolation and hope. Desolation from the people who are suffering, often right next to us. But hope too, for the Light of Christ is there for us, given freely and given with much love. We must refocus our sight on this Light. We must continue to cling to the Lord, and to see Him in those in need.

When we do that, we can be sure that Jesus is saying to each of us: “Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you”. For He has always been ready to give us His light, a light that makes all the lights of the city pale in comparison, ‘light from Light’. The question is: are we ready to receive our sight from Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)

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Prayer: Lord, we pray for the poor, the vulnerable and the sick. May they, in their physical desolation, find spiritual consolation in Your light. May we also find the wisdom to see You in those around us.

Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for His continued guidance, for being the good shepherd that He is to us.  

13 November, Sunday – Running the good race

13 November

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Malachi 3:19-20

The day is coming now, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and the evil-doers will be like stubble. The day that is coming is going to burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts, leaving them neither root nor stalk. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.

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2 Thessalonians 3:7-12

You know how you are supposed to imitate us: now we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we ever have our meals at anyone’s table without paying for them; no, we worked night and day, slaving and straining, so as not to be a burden on any of you. This was not because we had no right to be, but in order to make ourselves an example for you to follow.

We gave you a rule when we were with you: do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with everyone else’s. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we order and call on people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat.

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Luke 21:5-19

When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’

‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.

‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’

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By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

There are some difficult lessons in today’s readings. Indeed, Jesus warns us of the hard times, persecution and even imprisonment that we can expect to face. As we look at the world around us now, with many nations gripped in the throes of natural calamities, strife and warfare; as we see our fellow Christians persecuted and even killed in the Middle East, it is not that hard to picture the signs and events that Jesus tells us about.

However, to focus on these worldly events is also to ignore a more important and spiritual lesson that Jesus is trying to teach us. For these calamities and disasters that Jesus talks about can also often occur within ourselves.

The earthquakes we feel in our broken hearts in times of sadness, the spiritual famine that grips souls that have found nourishment not in God but in material possession, the daily plagues of work and survival that distract our minds in our daily lives, the wars raging in our conscience as our stubborn human will threatens to take charge of our entire being, and perhaps worse of all, the spiritual ennui of giving in to all these and saying, “there is nothing I can do to save myself”.

That is a fallacy. Worse yet, it is a sin, for we are blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. As Jesus tells us in the gospel, “not a hair on your head will be destroyed”, and that “I myself shall give you wisdom in speaking”. Through all these hard times, whether in the world out there or within the depths of our broken hearts and souls, Jesus is saying that He will guide and protect us. All we need to do is to live in His way.

The first and second readings give some indication of how to do that. For instance, “to work quietly and to eat their own food”, or “for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays”. In other words, to live honest and God-fearing lives. Of course, we also know that the ‘fear of the Lord’ does not refer to the regular ‘fear’ that we know in our secular world. Rather, this is a fear of being far from God, a fear of not loving Him enough, or a fear of disappointing Him.

Yes, it is much toil and hard work to be good Christians. But clearly, and as the readings show, the alternative is much worse. Furthermore, Jesus assures us that “by your perseverance you will secure your lives”. Not simply our lives on this earth, for that would be too lowly a prize from our Heavenly Father. No, the prize is our eternal lives with God. As St Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have finished the race; I have kept the faith”. We therefore need to keep our eyes on the prize and through calamity and hard times, run the good race.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)

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Prayer: Lord, help us to always be able to stand up for our faith. Be with us when we face challenges, especially when we are called upon to stand up for You.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for the gift of community; through which You give us strength to walk our lives in faith. Thank you for not giving us more than what we can bear. Praise you Jesus!