Monthly Archives: October 2018

1 November, Thursday – A happy future

1 November – Solemnity of All Saints

All Saints’ Day is celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In terms of Roman Catholic theology, the feast commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven. The beatific vision is the eternal and direct perception of God enjoyed by those who are in Heaven, imparting supreme happiness and blessedness. St. Thomas Aquinas defined the beatific vision as the ultimate end of human existence after physical death.

The origin of this feast as celebrated in the West dates to 13 May 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedication Sanctae mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. The chosen day, May 13, was a pagan observation of great antiquity, the culmination of three days of the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated.

The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731-741) of an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”, with the day moved to Nov 1.

– Wikipedia

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Apocalypse 7:2-4,9-14

I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.

After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’

One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’

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1 John 3:1-3

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.

Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.

My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;

all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.

Surely everyone who entertains this hope
must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.

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Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

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Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

There are days when I wonder if all the stress I go through now in this world is all worth it. There are many deadlines to meet for various projects and having to manage the expectations of many people around us. The readings of today remind us that our time on this world is meant to be temporary. It does not mean that it is supposed to be meaningless because God has placed us on this world to spread the love He has shown us to all around us. In doing so, we will receive the eternal reward which will belong to us in the future.

The Beatitudes are a beautiful way of instructing us on what actions will receive a blessing from God. It is for us to emulate such behaviour as many before us have already done so. For example, the martyrs who would rather suffer torture and persecution, instead of renouncing the faith, are a good reference point for us. They lived out the Beatitudes with their lives and were willing to use their lives to bring people closer to God. The Gospel reading of today is a blueprint for us to live our lives. Indeed, if all of us could even strive towards this standard, we will definitely be on route to heaven.

St John reminds us that we are God’s children and as God’s children we will definitely become like him in the future. As such, we should look forward to the reward which God is granting us and to always anticipate the future. This world may be tough for some of us but we should not let it hinder us in our final aim, which is to be in union with God. Persecution is indeed something which all of us go through – be it physical, mental, emotional and intellectual, regardless of where we live. What distinguishes us from others is the hope we have in God and the certainty of our eternal reward.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to live out the Beatitudes.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who bring peace to the world.

31 October, Wednesday – Stepping On Each Others’ Toes

31 October

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Ephesians 6:1-9

Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord – that is your duty. The commandment that has a promise attached to it is: Honour your father and mother, and the promise is: and you will prosper and have a long life in the land. And parents, never drive your children to resentment but in bringing them up correct them and guide them as the Lord does.

Slaves, be obedient to the men who are called your masters in this world, with deep respect and sincere loyalty, as you are obedient to Christ: not only when you are under their eye, as if you had only to please men, but because you are slaves of Christ and wholeheartedly do the will of God. Work hard and willingly, but do it for the sake of the Lord and not for the sake of men. You can be sure that everyone, whether a slave or a free man, will be properly rewarded by the Lord for whatever work he has done well. And those of you who are employers, treat your slaves in the same spirit; do without threats, remembering that they and you have the same Master in heaven and he is not impressed by one person more than by another.

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Luke 13:22-30

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’

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Doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not men.

For some time now, I felt that it might be time to move on from the ministry I serve in. I felt that I wasn’t growing anymore after close to 7 years in the ministry. Despite an opportunity earlier this year for a bigger role, as the months went by, I felt like I didn’t make a difference. The ‘machinery’ was simply too heavy and too entrenched to change. We were tasked as a team for change management but 7 months on, nothing had changed. People were working far slower than I am used to. I became restless and impatient. I found myself getting more disillusioned and less patient with some of my fellow ministry members.

I began to entertain the thought that perhaps I could be better utilised in another capacity, and not necessarily within the same ministry or the same community. Coincidentally, for a few months now, I have been called to help out in other capacities within the community and it is refreshing.

One day, I happened to come across one of Archbishop’s daily podcasts – and on that particular day, he preached about leaving things to God. He questioned if we work in an organization or serve in a ministry and feel frustrated. Or when we feel that we add no value or are not making any difference, do we quit? His answer to us was a resounding ‘No!’ We do not simply give up but give it to God. God is the master of our lives; the President/CEO of the organisation/community we serve in.

Serving in a Christian community is not easy. With any community we are in, we encounter all sorts of people – some we get on with, others not so much. Inevitably, we will step on each other’s toes. We are all wounded individuals. And the downside for some of us with corporate backgrounds is that we expect things to work like a corporate organization – based on KPIs and performance, often heartless. But not everyone is wired to work the same way. It’s not as if we can go out there and hire ‘the best talent’ for the job. Most of us are volunteers.

While there are some good practices we can adopt for large corporations, working in a church environment is completely different. Especially when it comes to dealing with human resources – better managed with love, compassion and understanding; stepping into the other person’s shoes. Who are we to judge the other? It is God who chose each one of us, not because we are qualified. But because He will equip us. Look at how He chose his disciples!

So as I serve today, I keep reminding myself to lean not on my own understanding and efforts. To keep pride at bay. To keep my eyes on Him. To serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.

I will end today’s reflection with a story about porcupines.

It was a particularly harrowing time in Porcupine Land. The winter was severe, and the porcupines were finding it difficult to survive, and freezing to death. That’s when the porcupines decided to meet and agree on a course of action.

As they got together to discuss their survival strategy, they discovered that just by being close to each other, their bodies generated heat; so they found they could survive the cold by just staying together.

But there was a problem. As they huddled together, their quills would poke and hurt the other. Soon some porcupines decided to avoid the pain and moved away. But as they went out, the cold got to them and they died.

Soon, better sense prevailed and the porcupines realised it was better to stay together and survive rather than go out on their own and die. Getting poked by the quills seemed like a small price to pay for survival.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, give us hearts of love, compassion and understanding. Help us to love our fellow brothers and sisters as you love us. Teach us to be humble at heart, to serve you in obedience.  

Thanksgiving: Thank you for your steadfast love and faithfulness.

30 October, Tuesday – Do you become discouraged?

30 October

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Ephesians 5:21-33

Give way to one another in obedience to Christ. Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church submits to Christ, so should wives to their husbands, in everything. Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her in water with a form of words, so that when he took her to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless. In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself. A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because it is his body – and we are its living parts. For this reason, a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one body. This mystery has many implications; but I am saying it applies to Christ and the Church. To sum up; you too, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband.

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Luke 13:18-21

Jesus said, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into his garden: it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.’

Another thing he said, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God with? It is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’

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A mustard seed

I often get frustrated with myself when I don’t see results in what I do. Why am I not learning quickly enough? Why can’t I cook or bake like this other person? Why am I not a better artist? Why am I not growing spiritually? Someone recently shared with me this pearl of wisdom – don’t be a second-rate version of someone else, but be the best version of yourself.

As I ponder over this, the truth of the fact is – I really am hard on myself. My better half always says I should give myself more credit. As I thought about this even more, if I can indulge myself just a bit, I have grown in so many way over the last few years. I am a better cook today than I ever was while I was still part of the rat race. I can bake a rather mean honeycomb cake. I draw better today than I did 6 months ago, and yes, I have grown spiritually. I may not be better than the next person, but I am growing each day to be a better version of myself.

Have I done this on my own? Not really. Everything that has happened was just a leap of faith on my part. A very small leap. All I had was the tiny faith of a mustard seed. Everything else was God’s work. He placed within me a seed of transformation and it grew.

Brothers and sisters, review today the routine tasks of your life.  Does it rise up to challenge you? Do you become discouraged when you do not see results? Something as small as a mustard seed or as little as a measure of yeast can, given the proper conditions, produce great growth and transformation. We often measure ourselves against the biggest and the best things, that we easily overlook the things that are small and more humble. Perhaps we can look at prayers we said, hopes we have for ourselves and our loved one. It may not have turned out the way we envisioned, but can we recognise how the seeds have grown?

Can I see the ‘yeast’ of a vision, a desire, a dream and see how it has inspired me and others? Yes, I certainly can!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, teach me to recognise the seeds of transformation which you have placed within me. Help me to understand that the kingdom is growing now in me, and that you are making your presence known to me in small as well as big ways.  

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for planting the seeds within me and how you have nurtured me and helped me grow.

29 October, Monday – Live in Love

29 October

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Ephesians 4:32-5:8

Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.

Try, then, to imitate God as children of his that he loves and follow Christ loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. Among you there must be not even a mention of fornication or impurity in any of its forms, or promiscuity: this would hardly become the saints! There must be no coarseness, or salacious talk and jokes-all this is wrong for you; raise your voices in thanksgiving instead. For you can be quite certain that nobody who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or promiscuity-which is worshipping a false god-can inherit anything of the kingdom of God. Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments: it is for this loose living that God’s anger comes down on those who rebel against him. Make sure that you are not included with them. You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light.

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Luke 13:10-17

One sabbath day Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that left her enfeebled; she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright. When Jesus saw her he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are rid of your infirmity’ and he laid his hands on her. And at once she straightened up, and she glorified God.

But the synagogue official was indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, and he addressed the people present. ‘There are six days’ he said ‘when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the sabbath.’ But the Lord answered him. ‘Hypocrites!’ he said ‘Is there one of you who does not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger on the sabbath and take it out for watering? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years – was it not right to untie her bonds on the sabbath day?’ When he said this, all his adversaries were covered with confusion, and all the people were overjoyed at all the wonders he worked.

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Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another…and live in love.

Today’s first reading tells us to practice human virtues of kindness, compassion and forgiveness. We are to imitate God, as his beloved children and to live in love. Sounds so ‘zen’, yes? The way I feel sometimes, I think I might have to be high on drugs to be this loving person. Being a Christian and following Christ is not easy. It is ‘cheap words’ when we go around spouting “Peace be with you” when our hearts are far from peaceful.

Recently, at our ‘Revival Friday’ session at the Catholic Spirituality Centre, the priest said something that had me nodding – when someone is hurting and struggling with a life situation, the last thing you should say is “I’ll pray for you!” I can resonate with that, because every time someone says that to me, I will dutifully reply “Thank you.” When in my heart, I am really saying “What a cop out thing to say!” Actions speak louder than words. Instead of saying “I’ll pray for you.” It’s far better to say “I’ll pray with you.” When someone is not feeling so great and down, sometimes the best thing to do is just to be there for them, listen to them, and not utter a single word.

I have been pondering over a perplexing situation between a friend and I. For some reason, this friend became hostile and cold towards me. It really surprised me and for the life of me, I cannot quite figure out what I might have done to upset this person. So being the good Christian, I decided to reach out to her and apologized for whatever I may have done. She responded very casually, as if there was absolutely nothing wrong. Perhaps she wasn’t ready to confront me. Perhaps she is herself confronting a difficult life situation and I shouldn’t take this personally. Now may not be the time to reach out. But in my mind, I keep wondering what I’ve done, and waver between being upset and understanding.

But as today’s readings remind me – I will still love my sister, strive to be tender-hearted, understanding and compassionate. And when the time is right, perhaps I could reach out to her again. I may not be like Jesus, healing with a touch of my hands. But perhaps, I could pave the way for healing — just be being there. Just by praying with her and for her.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

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Prayer: Jesus, give us hearts after yours – hearts of forgiveness, compassion and kindness. Teach us to walk in love. Especially to show love to people who hurt us, people who are hurting and people whom we find difficult to love.  

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for loving us. Especially when we are so unlovable. That you for healing our broken hearts and broken lives.

28 October, Sunday – Seasons of Change

28 October 2018

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Jeremiah 31:7-9

The Lord says this:

Shout with joy for Jacob!
Hail the chief of nations!
Proclaim! Praise! Shout:
‘The Lord has saved his people,
the remnant of Israel!’

See, I will bring them back
from the land of the North
and gather them from the far ends of earth;
all of them: the blind and the lame,
women with child, women in labour:
a great company returning here.

They had left in tears,
I will comfort them as I lead them back;
I will guide them to streams of water,
by a smooth path where they will not stumble.
For I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my first-born son.

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Hebrews 5:1-6

Every high priest has been taken out of mankind and is appointed to act for men in their relations with God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins; and so he can sympathise with those who are ignorant or uncertain because he too lives in the limitations of weakness. That is why he has to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honour on himself, but each one is called by God, as Aaron was. Nor did Christ give himself the glory of becoming high priest, but he had it from the one who said to him: You are my son, today I have become your father, and in another text: You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.

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Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’ And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Courage,’ they said ‘get up; he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbuni,’ the blind man said to him ‘Master, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you.’ And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.

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With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back

Today’s first reading brings much consolation to my heart. In life, each of us goes through seasons of change. My season now is best described as autumn – what used to be green has turned to shades of mustard, yellow, purple, black, blue and brown. I feel like a chapter of life is dying and I feel extremely melancholic. When acquaintances chirpily ask me “So how’s the going?” I would simply reply, “OK.” Who wants to speak to a ‘downer’ right? Not everyone wants to hear my story. For a while, I have kept my emotions buried so deep that I almost forgot about them. In my busy-ness over the past few months, I was actually quite upbeat. I thought I was finally on the way to healing.

Then one day, a couple of weeks back, I had a tête-à-tête with a dear friend. We laughed and were thankful that with each other, we could be ourselves; not have to wear masks and build up walls. We spoke about what irritated us, what made us sad, and what worried us. What a relief it was to be able to share freely. However after that chat, I felt that my wounds opened again, they were still raw with a numb, aching pain. In the days that followed, I didn’t know quite how to handle these feelings. That weekend, I sat in a crowded café with my sugar brioche and latte and to my surprise, my tears started to stream.

I reflected on this further – I learnt that we are not meant to try to handle our problems alone. A priest said during a weekend homily that if we carried our crosses alone, we’d probably be crushed under that weight. But if we carried it with Jesus, we will eventually find joy and peace — hard to comprehend when we are buried deep in the pain of our wounds. However, I realise that I wasn’t alone in that crowded café. Yes, a lot of other people and my unsuspecting coffee partner was there. But Jesus was right there with me. With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back. This may be a season of autumn, and soon it will be winter. But in winter, there is always Christmas and then it will be spring again.

Brothers and sisters, whatever season we are in, we have to just acknowledge that season of life. We cannot bypass these seasons of change, we are not meant to. Do not ignore it, nor bury it. But let us sit with it. Invite Jesus in, just like how Bartimaeus called out to Jesus. And let Jesus restore us and heal us. And soon, it will be summer again!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, we often try to do things on our own strength and fail miserably. Let us cling onto you and call out to you in faith, knowing that you are ever loving and just waiting for us to invite you in.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for the marvels you have worked in our lives. For being with us in the different seasons of our lives, for carrying our crosses with us.

27 October, Saturday – The Time is Now

27 October

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Ephesians 4:7-16

Each one of us has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it. It was said that he would:

When he ascended to the height, he captured prisoners,
he gave gifts to men.

When it says, ‘he ascended’, what can it mean if not that he descended right down to the lower regions of the earth? The one who rose higher than all the heavens to fill all things is none other than the one who descended. And to some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself.

Then we shall not be children any longer, or tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practising deceit. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each separate part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up, in love.

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Luke 13:1-9

Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’

He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’

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“…. it may bear next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”

The earliest part of my life was really challenging. I was born out of wedlock, brought up by my grand aunt, and had a childhood when I felt everything to be a struggle.  I started going to church at the age of 12, and sometime after that, I remembered asking God, “Why me?”.

Since then, I have had many similar conversationswith others. In fact, an acquaintance saw that I had been putting some faith-related posts on social media and touched base with me. His first question to me was something like this: “Would you still have faith iflife was difficult for you?”. His point to me was that if God was all loving, why does He allow bad things to happen, and why does He allow it to happen to good people?

In the Gospel today, Jesus teaches us that those who were killed by Pilate, or who were killed in Siloan were no more guilty that those who were not. This is an important lesson as the Israelites believed that God punished only those who were more sinful than others. This is something relevant for our understanding as well.

Rather than going into a discussion about why bad things happened to people, Jesus stressed the importance that everyone prepare for the time for us to leave this earthly world. He gives the parable about a fruitless fig tree. While the vinyard owner had intended to have the tree cut down, the gardener convinces the owner to keep it for an additional year to fruit, failing which it would be be cut down.

While it continues to live, the fig tree does not know that it has just an additional year. Like the fig tree, we do not know how long more we have.  By talking about “perishing”, our Lord does not talk about our physical deaths. Rather, He is talking about our eternal lives.

Let us focus on doing the right things, now. We simply do not know when our time on earth is up.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Help us to have a sense of urgency Father, to make our faith in You red-hot. Help us to believe and act in line with Your plans.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful to You for Your teaching Lord Jesus. For Your reminder that our time here on earth is limited. Thank You for blessing us with each day to do Your work.

26 October, Friday – Doing the Needful

26 October

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Ephesians 4:1-6

I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.

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Luke 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does. And when the wind is from the south you say it will be hot, and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?

‘Why not judge for yourselves what is right? For example: when you go to court with your opponent, try to settle with him on the way, or he may drag you before the judge and the judge hand you over to the bailiff and the bailiff have you thrown into prison. I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the very last penny.’

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“How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?”

I have struggled with my weight all through my life. Ever since I can remember (even from primary school), I have been told to not eat so much, choose the right foods, exercise regularly and get sufficient rest.  When I hit my late twenties, I started drinking alcohol as well and made bad choices when it came to my health.  I knew what would happen if Icontinued to make bad choices, and yet chose not todo what I knew to be good for myself.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus talked about such behaviour. The three examples He talks about seems logical. In the first, reading the signs that anticipate that rain was coming, and indeed having it come. In the second, judging that hot weather was arriving simply by reading the direction of the wind, and having the hot weather arrive. In the last, our Lord talks about someone in a dispute with another person. Instead of trying to settle the matter before going to court, this person chooses to risk it by fighting it out in court, only to lose and having to pay the full price for his folly.

I have often wondered about this reading. It just makes perfect sense to anticipate and to take steps to prevent “bad” things from happening. Yet, like how I chose to ignore good advice, people also tend to ignore what is obvious (at least to others around them).

Sometime ago, I was reflecting on the book of Exodus in the Old Testament (when God liberated the Israelites from slavery, demonstrating many miracles in the process). Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt and while he was on Mount Sinai, the Isaralites wasted no time in smelting all their gold to create a golden calf to worship! All this despite the fact that all the miracles proved that the God of the Israelites is the obvious One True God!

Similarly, in the Gospel and in our lives, we see that Jesus is our one true saviour. Let us take the necessary steps to act on our belief in God, the Holy Trinity, in eternal life and the communion of saints!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will have the strength, fortitude and urgency to act on our faith in You Lord. Help us Father to be guided by the Spirit and to grow in love for You!

Thanksgiving: Thank You for showering us with Your love. Thank You for your patience with us, in spite of us being open. Thank You Father!

25 October, Thursday – Our Faith Journey

25 October

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Ephesians 3:14-21

This is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name:

Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.

Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.

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Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

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“… you will with all the saints have strength to grasp…. you are filled with the utter fullness of God”

At the end of January this year, a group of volunteers in my parish at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS) came together to prepare for a retreat that was to be held in September. The group consisted of musicians and singers.

When we started, most of us were strangers to each other. Over the course of the 7 months it took to prepare for this retreat, we prayed together, prayed for each other, worshipped together, ate together and spent time together. We have grown together, both in faith, in closeness and even in weight!

After this period of spending time together weekly, we have grown into a community, bound together in faith and in love. I have never felt more supported or loved. Even though the retreat has since ended, we continue to grow as a community and are working together to support the praise and worship in OLPS.

In today’s First reading, the apostle Paul talks about “all the saints”.

These saints do not justrefer to a special group of people who are somehow more spiritual, or closer to God than the rest of the people and whose souls are perfected in heaven (known as the Church Triumphant). Instead, the group of saints that Paul refers to also includes all of us who are still on earth “fighting the good fight” (the Church Militant) and finally, those who have gone before us and whose souls are in purgatory (the Church Penitant).

I never understood the significance of such a community until my close involvement with the community at OLPS. Even with such a small faith community, there was so much prayer, love and support. Imagine what would happen with the whole community when the whole faith community in heaven, on earth and in purgatory were to pray with each of us!

Let us remember that we are never alone in our journey of faith. Instead, we continue to grow with and support each other!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, we pray that we may be aware of the whole communion of saints who are journeying with us always. Help us Father, to continue to pray for each other.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father, for blessing us with each other. We are grateful for Your everlasting love and mercy!

24 October, Wednesday – Being Good Stewards

24 October – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop

Anthony Mary Claret (1807–1870) was a weaver and a seminary student with Blessed Francis Coll. He was ordained on 13 June 1835, and became a missionary in Catalonia and the Canary Islands. He directed retreats and founded the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians). He became Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba on 20 May 1850, and founded the Teaching Sisters of Mary Immaculate.

Following his work in the Caribbean, Blessed Pope Pius IX ordered him back to Spain where he became confessor to Queen Isabella II and was exiled with her. He had the gift of prophecy and miracles, and was reported to have preached 10,000 sermons, published 200 works. He spread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 3:2-12

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery, as I have just described it very shortly. If you read my word you will have some idea of the depths that I see in the mystery of Christ. This that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel. I have been made the servant of that gospel by a gift of grace from God who gave it to me by his own power. I, who am less than the least of all the saints have been entrusted with this special grace, not only of proclaiming to the pagans the infinite treasure of Christ but also of explaining how the mystery is to be dispensed. Through all the ages, this has been kept hidden in God, the creator of everything. Why? So that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is, exactly according to the plan which he had had from all eternity in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is why we are bold enough to approach God in complete confidence, through our faith in him.

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Luke 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ The Lord replied, ‘What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.

The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.’

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“… when a man has had a great deal given him on trust; even more will be expected of him”

When I first became a banker specialising in selling mortgages (housing loans) to clients, I found myself thrown into the world of running sales numbers on a daily basis. I was tracking these numbers; how many customers I called, how many I met, how many cases I “closed” and how and why I lost cases.

In all honesty, my first few months was spent being troubled; I had moved from being a priority banking manager to handling loans (a first for me!) and was really hungry to bring in business.Soon, I found myself trying to manage my sales numbers; if I had more sales for the month, should I manage these numbers and carry some forward to the next month?

Over time, I realised that I was accountable not to myself, but to my employer, and the clients themselves. It was not right for me to manage these numbers (and being dishonest too!). Only that this is not just about my employer; it was about my faith too. How could I call myself a Christian if I could be so deceptive in the area of my work?Once this was in my consciousness, the only thing for me to do was to stop it.

Like the steward in today’s Gospel, our attention should always be on our master, in this case, our Lord. We cannot wait until we are in a position whereby we are due to be “audited” before we start making changes to the way we behave or live. If we are to be good stewards, we need to behave righteously even if no one was looking at us.

Let us be mindful of this: we cannot simply compartmentalise our lives and live as unbelievers in certain areas and “put on Christian aspects” when we are in church. We need to function, and live as, fully integrated Christians.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we may always be open to the Spirit to be as good stewards always. That we may have the strength and wisdom to always do the right things. Help us Father to learn to walk in Your ways.

Thanksgiving: We praise and thank You Jesus for showing us what we should be focusing on. Thank You for showing us the right choices we should be making.

23 October, Tuesday – God our everything

23 October – Memorial for St. John Capistrano, Priest

John (1386–1456) was the son of a former German knight. His father died when John was still young. He studied law at the University of Perugia, and became a lawyer in Naples, Italy. He was the reforming governor of Perugia under King Landislas of Naples. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, John tried to broker a peace, but instead his opponents ignored the truce, and John became a prisoner of war.

During his imprisonment, he came to the decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war, but his marriage was never consummated and, with his bride’s permission, it was annulled. He became a Franciscan at Perugia on 4 October 1416 and was a fellow student with St. James of the Marshes, and a disciple of St. Bernadine of Siena. He was a noted preacher while still a deacon, beginning his work in 1420.

He was an itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, preaching to tens of thousands. He established communities of Franciscan renewal, and was reported to heal by making the Sign of the Cross over a sick person. He wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.

After the fall of Constantinople, he preached Crusade against the Muslim Turks. At the age of 70, he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it, and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. He died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Muslims.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 2:12-22

Do not forget that you had no Christ and were excluded from membership of Israel, aliens with no part in the covenants with their Promise; you were immersed in this world, without hope and without God. But now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ. For he is the peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law. This was to create one single New Man in himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the cross, to unite them both in a single Body and reconcile them with God: in his own person he killed the hostility. Later he came to bring the good news of peace, peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near at hand. Through him, both of us have in the one Spirit our way to come to the Father.

So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.

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Luke 12:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready.’

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“… you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household”

I just love watching movies!

One of my favourites is “The Tuxedo”, starring Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love-Hewitt.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

In it, Jackie is Jimmy, a cabbie turned driver of a rich man, Clark Devlin. Unbeknownst to Jimmy, his boss is actually a spy. Devlin subsequently goes into a coma, having narrowly survived an attempt on his life, while Jimmy chances upon an unusual tuxedo belonging to his boss.

Jimmy dons the tuxedo and finds he can suddenly do special things, including martial arts and even dance!

The first reading today talks about us becoming part of God’s covenant with the family of Israel through Christ, our Lord, Saviour and brother. It is purely through this relationship that we are saved.

Yet it is not just this “participation” in the kingdom of God that benefits us. In Philippians 4:13, the apostle Paul famously says “There is nothing I cannot do in the One who strengthens me”.

Indeed, I am guilty of not turning to Jesus in my daily life, whether I am doing my work, serving in Church, or in my personal life. I detach, and am often running on my own power. I do not realise that like Jackie Chan, I need to don the Holy Spirit like the movie’s, in order to do the things that I am normally not sufficiently equipped to do. I need to always plug into God’s strength and His wisdom at all times.

Let us continue to pray for this awareness to turn to God for everything in our lives.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, we pray that we may never fall into the trap of thinking that we can go it alone and that we do not need You. Help us to always be aware of You, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We pray that the Spirit may inhabit us in our daily lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for strengthening and making us strong Lord Jesus. We are grateful for this opportunity to participate in heaven and for Your love for us.