Daily Archives: May 5, 2019

6 May, Monday – Self Belief vs Selfishly Believing

6 May 2019

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Acts 6:8-15

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. But then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said. So they procured some men to say, ‘We heard him using blasphemous language against Moses and against God.’ Having in this way turned the people against him as well as the elders and scribes, they took Stephen by surprise, and arrested him and brought him before the Sanhedrin. There they put up false witnesses to say, ‘This man is always making speeches against this Holy Place and the Law. We have heard him say that Jesus the Nazarene is going to destroy this Place and alter the traditions that Moses handed down to us.’ The members of the Sanhedrin all looked intently at Stephen, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.

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John 6:22-29

After Jesus had fed the five thousand, his disciples saw him walking on the water. Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’
Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’

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…you must believe in the one he has sent.

 It has been a long while since I disappointed my boss. He is generally quite easygoing and gives me quite a bit of latitude in making decisions but recently, I made a wrong one and it discredited him in the eyes of many of his friends and peers. And in a strange twist of fate, I was put in his shoes the very next day when one of my staff went ahead with a decision which thankfully, didn’t end up with the same disappointing consequences (the outcome wasn’t that bad nor was it public). Instead, I took the opportunity to clarify my stance with the young chap and turned it into a learning opportunity.

Sometimes, those of us more ‘seasoned’ pros think we know better. We then forsake due process and rational logic and make decisions based on ‘gut feel’, which may end up making us feel as if we had been punched in the gut ourselves. We tune out all advice that says ‘this is the wrong way to go’ and convince ourselves that we will go against conventional wisdom and be prepared to take the calculated risk. Until someone higher up says, “Surely I have told you before what I feel about this matter. Did I not make myself clear?”

And just as Jesus made his teachings and beliefs clear to everyone around Him, many of us choose not to listen and think that we know better. How wrong we are, brothers and sisters. Because our God is a loving God and would not have sent a ‘false prophet’ to save us. His words are manna and meant to sustain us, what more His very presence, which we sometimes question as we assume our very human stance of ‘I know better because you don’t understand’.

Well, perhaps a hard lesson in humility is required at times for us to truly appreciate the wisdom and experience of those who have been around longer than us. Or who have formed their opinions with the benefit of hindsight after having made their own mistakes. It is not easy to swallow one’s pride and acknowledge weakness, especially in the face of others’ success. But we must learn to accept such blows and rise up strong, determined to learn from the lesson, however hard it may be.

Brothers and sisters, let us learn to quieten our hearts and appreciate sage advice. Let us not be too obstinate in our dealings with others and try to be more docile to the stirrings within us, especially if they are cautioning us to hold our tongue or to be careful.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Father, teach us to be humble of heart and docile to your Word.

Thanksgiving: We thank you for the gift of humility.

5 May, Sunday – Seeing is believing

5 May 2019

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Acts 5:27-32,40-41

The high priest demanded an explanation of the Apostles. ‘We gave you a formal warning’ he said ‘not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man’s death on us.’ In reply Peter and the apostles said, ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’ They warned the apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.

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Apocalypse 5:11-14

In my vision, I, John, heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the animals and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, shouting, ‘The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.’ Then I heard all the living things in creation – everything that lives in the air, and on the ground, and under the ground, and in the sea, crying, ‘To the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.’ And the four animals said, ‘Amen’; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.

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John 21:1-19

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

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It is the Lord

I spent most of last week running around, being available for those who needed me and by the time we got to the regular 4th Saturday healing service at CSC, I was pretty much in ‘auto’ mode. Towards the end of the healing service, our spiritual director came over to me and whispered that he was going to bring Jesus down from the altar and walk to the front of the congregation; and that he wanted me to turn on all the lights in the hall (we usually dim them during healing). No time to ask questions, no time to react except to say ‘OK’ and then hope for the best.

We had already spent a good part of 40 to 50 mins adoring Him and many had come forward to be prayed over. But as Fr Andrew came down with Jesus, I witnessed quite a few in the congregation rest again as they were adoring on their knees. Then he came in front of where we were singing and all I could do was to look at the Blessed Sacrament and smile. I knew there and then that He had been walking with me all throughout my rather fraught week. I came to a realisation why I had been strangely calm amidst the storm – I had been leaning on Him all this while and not letting my emotions get the better of me.

Brothers and sisters, the overriding emotion that carried me through the week was love. A simple word that defies all logic when your search for answers brings nothing; and when those who depend on you demand your attention and seek your leadership. I told my deputy at work that over the next few weeks (and even months), I would probably be ‘less approachable’ and not be in a very consultative mood as I make decisions but assured him that there would be no emotion involved and that he was not to take my lack of concern personally.

So as Jesus appeared before his disciples while they were tending their nets and going about their normal business, completely unaware that He was the one asking if they had caught anything, it took yet another miracle before Peter’s eyes were opened. How weak we are in our faith that even though the Son of Man stands by our side each day, we still require some ‘act of God’ to happen before we choose to believe that it IS the Lord in front of us. What will it take for us to finally acknowledge our risen Lord, that He has conquered death and reigns in our hearts, and therefore, we have no excuse but to radiate His love to each and everyone we encounter in our daily lives?

Are we, as Christians, going to just sit idly by and let life consume us? Or are we going to be His soldiers in the battlefield (hardly a metaphor in these troubled times) and allow His love to flow through us so that our family, our colleagues, our community and our enemies are so overwhelmed that they look at us and say ‘It is the Lord’? Easier said than done isn’t it? Because who are we but mere mortals – wounded souls who persecute others with our words, our actions and our judgemental ways.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Father, we pray that you help us open our eyes to your presence each and every day.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for resurrecting in our hearts each and every day we celebrate the Eucharist.

4 May, Saturday – In God we Trust

4 May 2019

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Acts 6:1-7

About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’ The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.

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John 6:16-21

In the evening the disciples went down to the shore of the lake and got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the lake. It was getting dark by now and Jesus had still not rejoined them. The wind was strong, and the sea was getting rough. They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming towards the boat. This frightened them, but he said, ‘It is I. Do not be afraid.’ They were for taking him into the boat, but in no time it reached the shore at the place they were making for.

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It is I. Do not be afraid

Fear has a way of creating trouble for people. It has an ability to make people doubt about their own capabilities, their faith and also the people around them. This was exactly what the apostles faced in the Gospel of today. They were fearful of the bad weather around them and how it would cause them to lose their lives.

Our lives are also not smooth sailing. To be a Christian does not mean that the circumstances in our life changes. Rather, it is a situation where we trust the Lord Jesus to be the centre of our life. He is to be in charge of us despite the various storms that life brings us. Be it emotional challenges, problems at work or medical problems, these are all storms in our lives which will continue to challenge and afflict our daily lives.

I believe that it is our response which matters. As we continue with the demands of our lives, we should always trust in God that He has a plan and that by co-operating with that plan – all will indeed turn out well.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Jesus, I trust in You

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who continue to spread the faith.