Daily Archives: December 6, 2016

7 December, Wednesday – Rest

Dec 7 – Memorial for St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church

Ambrose (c.340–397) was born to the Roman nobility. He was the brother of St. Marcellina and St. Satyrus. He was educated in the classics, Greek, and philosophy at Rome, Italy. He was a poet and a noted orator. He was a convert to Christianity, and governor of Milan, Italy.

When the Bishop of Milan died, a dispute over his replacement led to violence. Ambrose intervened to calm both sides; he impressed everyone involved so much that though he was still an unbaptized catechumen, he was chosen as the new bishop. He resisted, claiming that he was not worthy, but he assented to prevent further violence. On Dec 7, 374, he was baptized, ordained as a priest, and consecrated as bishop. He immediately gave away his wealth to the Church and the poor, both for the good it did, and as an example to his flock.

He was a noted preacher and teacher, a Bible student of renown, and writer of liturgical hymns. He stood firm against paganism and Arianism. His preaching helped convert St. Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose baptized and brought into the Church. Ambrose’s preaching brought Emperor Theodosius to do public penance for his sins.

During his time as bishop, he also called and chaired several theological councils, many devoted to fighting heresy. He welcomed St. Ursus and St. Alban of Mainz when they fled Naxos to escape Arian persecution, and then sent them on to evangelize in Gaul and Germany. He was proclaimed a great Doctor of the Latin Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298.

The title “Honey Tongued Doctor” was initially bestowed on Ambrose because of his speaking and preaching ability; this led to the use of a beehive and bees in his iconography, symbols which also indicate wisdom. This led to his association with bees, beekeepers, chandlers, wax refiners, etc.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 40:25-31

‘To whom could you liken me
and who could be my equal?’ says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look.
Who made these stars
if not he who drills them like an army,
calling each one by name?
So mighty is his power, so great his strength,
that not one fails to answer.

How can you say, Jacob,
how can you insist, Israel,
‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord,
my rights are ignored by my God’?
Did you not know?
Had you not heard?

The Lord is an everlasting God,
he created the boundaries of the earth.
He does not grow tired or weary,
his understanding is beyond fathoming.
He gives strength to the wearied,
he strengthens the powerless.
Young men may grow tired and weary,
youths may stumble,
but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength,
they put out wings like eagles.
They run and do not grow weary,
walk and never tire.

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Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus exclaimed, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

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“Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.”

In today’s readings we hear of the word ‘rest’. There are probably many ways of interpreting this word. Some would read it as, going to God, we will have no more troubles; or that God will do all the work for us. While this is true, the question comes when our troubles, worries or work somehow do not magically or miraculously disappear.

The truth is we are sometimes trapped in our work, in our routines, in the rat race, that we fail to even step out to embrace what God has placed in our lives. We tend to rely on our strengths, to want to be recognised and rewarded for our work, to want to be accepted to want to feel as if we belong. We place our identities in that of who others say we are. We get caught up with trying to prove ourselves to others, which actually leads to us allowing ourselves to be used and taken advantage of.

When we feel this way, we begin to be disillusioned with life and question, why are we doing all this? What is the purpose of our lives?

The rest that God is inviting us to today, is to be with Him. To recognise that our identity is in Him. That if we place our trust and hope and life in Him, He will not let us down. As in the first reading, we hear Isaiah proclaiming how great God is, that He has no equal.

God has already paid the price for us on the cross, and He too is carrying our crosses with us. As we bring to Him our sufferings, burdens and despair, we also bring Him our lives and entrust our lives into His hands. Let us not get caught up with seeking approval, recognition, fame and wealth. Let us seek the giver of all our talents, seek the provider of all we have, seek the one who created us, who loves us and accepts us unconditionally. For He, who is almighty and all powerful, is yet gentle and humble, who knows our true desire and intention, who loves us as we are.

Let us seek His coming. Let us rest in Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for a greater awareness of ourselves and the work we do. Help us to glorify you in all that we say and do. Help us to rest in you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for being by our side, for carrying our burdens with us. Thank you for understanding, loving and accepting us as we are.

6 December, Tuesday – Searching

Dec 6 – Memorial for St. Nicholas, bishop

Nicholas (d. 346) was a priest and abbot, and the bishop of Myra, Lycia (modern Turkey). He was generous to the poor, and a special protector of the innocent and wrong. Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming Santa Claus.

One story is that, upon hearing that a local man had fallen on such hard times that he was planning to sell his daughters into prostitution, Nicholas went by night to the house and threw three bags of gold in through the window, saving the girls from an evil life. These three bags, gold generously given in time of trouble, became the three golden balls that indicate a pawn broker’s shop.

Another story is that he raised to life three young boys who had been murdered and pickled in a barrel of brine to hide the crime. These stories led to his patronage of children in general, and of barrel-makers besides.

Another St. Nicholas story is that he induced some thieves to return their plunder, which led to his protection against theft and robbery, and his patronage of them – he is not helping them to steal, but to repent and change. In the past, thieves have been known as Saint Nicholas’ clerks or Knights of St. Nicholas.

A fourth story is that during a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up, threatening the ship. He prayed about it, and the storm calmed – hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers who work on the sea.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 40:1-11

‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

A voice commands, ‘Cry!’
and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’”
– ‘All flesh is grass
and its beauty like the wild flower’s.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on them.
(The grass is without doubt the people.)
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God remains for ever.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

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Matthew 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’

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“It is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”

What is it we are searching for? What is it that we truly desire? We study, work, argue, fight, politic all because we desire to — survive? So that we may lead a comfortable life? Are we then ever comfortable?

Especially as we prepare for the coming of Christ this Christmas, what is it we are preparing for? Are we even searching? What are we searching for? Where are we searching?

As in the Gospel today, God desires for us to be with Him. He searches for us but He also respects us, waiting for us to open the door of our hearts, of our lives to Him. As with the parables of The Lost Coin, The Prodigal Son, The Lost Sheep, it’s not about if we are lost, but whether we desire to return, to allow ourselves to be found. Or do we continuously run further away because we can’t face ourselves for all that we’ve done? As with the parables, God rejoices when we return but, more than that, deep down within ourselves, we know that is what we have always been searching for.

To me, I believe, it is love. To know that we matter, to know that there is someone out there who cares for us, not because of what we have, not because of what we can do but because he/she simply just wants to. It is also those people who are easiest to take for granted, our parents, teachers, our loved ones, our God. They are always there for us, but always hurting the most while waiting for us to return.

In chasing after so many of our desires, we lose ourselves, our values, our dignity, our integrity, our true and initial desire. Let us slow down, to recollect what is it we actually want, what is it we actually need, who we actually are.

Let us search for our true selves, let us be open, to allow Christ into our lives this Christmas. Let us be found.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that we may not be distracted in our search for our true desire, the purpose of our lives. We also pray that we may encounter you in a very special way this Christmas. Help us to return to you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always being present. For your love and mercy. For desiring our return. Thank you for accepting us for who we are.