Daily Archives: January 24, 2019

25 January, Friday – Bite Sized

25 January – Feast of The Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: “…entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal—being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior.

One sentence determined his theology: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people—the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfilment of all he had been blindly pursuing.

So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.

(Source:http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1271)

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Acts 22:3-16

Paul said to the people, ‘I am a Jew and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty towards God as you are today. I even persecuted this Way to the death, and sent women as well as men to prison in chains as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify, since they even sent me with letters to their brothers in Damascus. When I set off it was with the intention of bringing prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment.

‘I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when about midday a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” I answered: Who are you, Lord? and he said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, and you are persecuting me.” The people with me saw the light but did not hear his voice as he spoke to me. I said: What am I to do, Lord? The Lord answered, “Stand up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do.” The light had been so dazzling that I was blind and my companions had to take me by the hand; and so I came to Damascus.

‘Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me; he stood beside me and said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight.” Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him. Then he said, “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Just One and hear his own voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all mankind, testifying to what you have seen and heard. And now why delay? It is time you were baptised and had your sins washed away while invoking his name.”’

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Mark 16:15-18

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
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I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Anything worth doing well takes time. Time in the active sense; unlike with the fermentation of wine in unseen caves, but in the fervent nudging and gnawing of our stubbornness. I’m drawn to the idea of conversion, but also quickly realise how plodding the endeavor will be. Will I give up, or stay the course?

How can my conversion begin in the now of today? And will I determine its timeline? Will my conversion ever be complete? With these questions in mind, I have sought to chip away at parts of my life that no longer hold place in my Christian existence. I “eat the frog” every morning, spending time on the most challenging item on my to-do list. I also wear sunblock before I head out, and consume less sugar throughout the day (bye bye random mints). I set aside a block of time each week to take stock of my finances, and learn more about investing. I’m in the process of spring cleaning my house, discarding items that no longer spark joy. I’ve also been getting more sleep, much to the chagrin of my Netflix account.

With innovation and creating capacity being the buzzwords of our connected lives, I’m seeking to reinvent myself for His greater good. In making space for ourselves, we untangle resources that can be invested towards Christian dividends.

I urge all of you to join me in my conversion struggle. Let’s run this race together.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer: I pray for the grace to always be present, realising that my struggles are best tackled in the here and now.

Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Lord, for unfogging my glasses; you’ve shown me the path towards becoming the best version of myself.

24 January, Thursday – Asking and Taking

25 January 2019

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Hebrews 7:25-8:6

The power of Jesus to save is utterly certain, since he is living for ever to intercede for all who come to God through him.

To suit us, the ideal high priest would have to be holy, innocent and uncontaminated, beyond the influence of sinners, and raised up above the heavens; one who would not need to offer sacrifices every day, as the other high priests do for their own sins and then for those of the people, because he has done this once and for all by offering himself. The Law appoints high priests who are men subject to weakness; but the promise on oath, which came after the Law, appointed the Son who is made perfect for ever.

The great point of all that we have said is that we have a high priest of exactly this kind. He has his place at the right of the throne of divine Majesty in the heavens, and he is the minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tent of Meeting which the Lord, and not any man, set up. It is the duty of every high priest to offer gifts and sacrifices, and so this one too must have something to offer. In fact, if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are others who make the offerings laid down by the Law and these only maintain the service of a model or a reflection of the heavenly realities. For Moses, when he had the Tent to build, was warned by God who said: See that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

We have seen that he has been given a ministry of a far higher order, and to the same degree it is a better covenant of which he is the mediator, founded on better promises.

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Mark 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lakeside, and great crowds from Galilee followed him. From Judaea, Jerusalem, Idumaea, Transjordania and the region of Tyre and Sidon, great numbers who had heard of all he was doing came to him. And he asked his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, to keep him from being crushed. For he had cured so many that all who were afflicted in any way were crowding forward to touch him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw him, would fall down before him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he warned them strongly not to make him known.

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He cured many and as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him

The scene of our gospel reading today is markedly different from yesterday. Today, we see Jesus mobbed by the crowd, pressed in from all sides, by people eager to meet the new miracle worker in town. In Jesus’ time, access to healthcare was a luxury available only to the powerful and the wealthy. Most people did the best they could within their limited means. This included consulting local medicine men, witch doctors and false healers, all who were more than eager to exploit the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. They saw in Jesus, a new kind of hope. No one was really interested in the healing he could bring their soul; everyone was just in it in order to be healed physically, so they could get on with their lives. In a way, the mob was exploiting Jesus too for their means, and he knew it – “he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him”.

Many of us treat our prayer time as an opportunity to rattle off a litany of requests to God. I have often wondered what it must be like to be on the receiving end of this. I know I get annoyed when friends and family just take and take and take, without even thinking of how they might give back. It makes me feel used and taken advantage of. I feel exploited. I get angry and resentful. Wouldn’t God feel the same? Though He is above these negative human impulses that doesn’t mean He won’t recognize our selfishness in the long ‘lists’ we call ‘prayers’. If when we approach God, we just focus on asking and taking instead of giving and serving, why would God listen to us?

Jesus doesn’t want believers who are just interested in taking. He wants to have a relationship with us, and a relationship is a two way street. He called us because he saw in us, a quality that he wanted in a friend. Perhaps we should re-examine our intentions then, rethink our prayers to see if we are in this for what He wants, or whether we are simply here for the asking and the taking.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

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Prayer: We pray for the self-awareness to examine our prayers and our petitions. When we ask, do we ask with the right intentions?

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the grace of God that allows us to become better versions of ourselves.