Monthly Archives: June 2019

1 Jul, Monday – Here I Am

1 Jul 2019

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Genesis 18:16-33

From Mamre the men set out and arrived within sight of Sodom, with Abraham accompanying them to show them the way. Now the Lord had wondered, ‘Shall I conceal from Abraham what I am going to do, seeing that Abraham will become a great nation with all the nations of the earth blessing themselves by him? For I have singled him out to command his sons and his household after him to maintain the way of the Lord by just and upright living. In this way the Lord will carry out for Abraham what he has promised him.’ Then the Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’

The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ the Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’

Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No,’ he replied ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ Again Abraham said to him, ‘Perhaps there will only be forty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’

Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the twenty.’ He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the ten.’

When he had finished talking to Abraham the Lord went away, and Abraham returned home.

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Matthew 8:18-22

When Jesus saw the great crowds all about him he gave orders to leave for the other side. One of the scribes then came up and said to him, ‘Master, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, ‘Sir, let me go and bury my father first.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.’

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The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head

This year’s Corpus Christi celebration at our centre saw one of our mission partners, Gloria Patri, run the programme from 9:00pm till 6:00am the next morning. Having just about recovered from a short bout of flu, I was worried if I would be able to withstand the nine hour celebration involving P&W, talks, mass, healing and adoration. It was the first time I would be supporting the sessions with my limited knowledge of AV as I had unknowingly volunteered to coordinate all the AV and on-ground requirements for the night/morning. None of my other brothers in the ministry were available as they had other commitments.

Bearing in mind I had attended a follow-up session for the recently-concluded Youth CER on the previous night (Friday), I was strangely ‘chill’ and not perturbed at all about having to spend yet another weekend at CSC. In fact, I was looking forward to the time with Christ and ended up experiencing a healing for my right shoulder at one of the sessions.

So what would have been a potentially fraught few days leading up to the sessions — our leaders were all away on holiday; and no one seemed to know what the 9-hour programme would consist of as our spiritual director was on leave till Saturday itself – ended up being a healing one for me. Truly, when one is driven by faith, the Lord never fails to provide. As I look back at some of the WhatsApp exchanges between the Gloria Patri coordinator and myself, I realised that he had complete trust that the session would sail on smoothly, despite not having met me before. As a stranger to the venue, he truly was relying on me to provide all the necessary backup, which I could not have accomplished without the able support of my two other leaders, who had come back from their own family holiday just 2 days prior.

Brothers and sisters, when we are called upon to provide a ‘safe haven’ for our Lord in which to be present, when He asks of us what we will be doing to prepare a place for Him, we cannot approach with fear and doubt. Instead, we should walk forward in faith that He will provide and send us the angels we need in order to accomplish our task. And we must always remember, it is not about who has done what. It is all about the heart of service and about taking a step back when someone more competent offers to lend a hand. For many of us in ministry, we tend to feel slighted when someone steps up, feeling as if we have been undermined. I have learnt over the years to look at them as angels who are sent my way, simply because I know not what I am doing.

So the next time someone approaches you to ask for help in the Lord’s vineyard, trust in His providence and just say ‘Yes’.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, in our own spiritual journeys here in earth, we know you are always with us and gently guiding us along. Keep us sensitive to your promptings to that we learn to decrease, in order for you to increase through others you send our way.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord, for your providence in our times of need.

30 June, Sunday – Raise A Hallelujah (RAH)

30 June 2019

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1 Kings 19:16,19-21

The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, you are to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’

Leaving there, Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’ Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.

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Galatians 5:1,13-18

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.

Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.

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Luke 9:51-62

As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.

As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’
Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

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When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.

As I write this, I have just about recovered from a small bout of flu (runny nose and a bit of a cough) and am doing physio on my shoulder, which I injured 3 weeks ago at a prep camp for the Youth Conversion Experience Retreat, which I was privileged and blessed to serve as a facilitator in last week. What a life-giving experience it was as 130-odd young adults (between 18 and 29 yrs of age) encountered Christ and were liberated from their spiritual chains.

At the last P&W session, I was literally running between the retreatants as everyone was lifting their hands to God and thanking Him for freeing them from their bondages. Over the 4 days of ministering, I had learnt a lot about bonding as a ministry, and being part of a community who truly cared for, and shared in, each others’ wounds. During one of the paraliturgies, I was led by the Holy Spirit to come to a greater understanding about my ‘father wounds’ and I believe it enabled the spirit to speak through me to the retreatants who approached me during the session.

I was also blessed to have witnessed first-hand, the zeal, passion, honesty and raw emotion present in the magnificent army we have at CSC. The young adults who, despite being at various life stages (some are just starting families, some are in university, some have just started their first jobs), gave everything they had emotionally, spiritually and physically to the cause. We adults truly have much to learn from this bunch of committed ministry members. Sure, there were hiccups along the way (and a few ‘meltdowns’) but as I watched them sing during a healing session, I was moved to tears. There must have been 30 or more of us signing from our vantage point in the hall and I had never, in all my 8 years in ministry, seen this kind of fervour. Indeed, we were turning a melody into weapons for God – swords and flaming arrows against all manner of sin, oppression and against the evil one. Due to privacy restrictions, I could not capture the moment, but I for one would not want to face up against that moving mass of faith and fervour.

I still have the song in my head and it continues to move me – Raise A Hallelujah. There is a youtube video about the genesis of that song and I urge you to search it out so that you can appreciate how a song, when sung from the heart, can truly become a weapon (I am resisting some elaboration here as I don’t want to spoil the moment for you) against unbelief and tear down walls of fear.

Brothers and sisters, the retreat was another heart-wrenching, eye-opening, life-giving experience for me as I was reminded that we, as sons and daughters of God, should NOT be slaves to fear; to anything negative, nor to others. We have been created in His image and surely, He would make us into His most beloved people, free to do whatever we wish, free to enjoy His favour and grace. Free to sing with songs from deep within our hearts, or express our joy and gratitude through the talents He has given us. Because WE ARE GOOD. And that is a sentiment I shared with my brothers and sisters from the St Francis of Assisi group.

So thank you Aaron, AmO to Am4, Ashwin, BE (you know who you are), Ben (what nice feet you have), Brittany, Bryan, Charmaine, Chelsea, Chen Chen, Cheryl ‘llama’, Christa, Daniel, DDP (and your growing tribe!!!), DKong, Dom, Eunice, Fionn, Gabe, ‘GabLong’, Grace (YNWA), Gus, Janice, Jerm, Jerome, JJ, JLA, Joanne, Jolene, John, Jonathan, the 2 Joshes, Jules, Kat, Kelly, Kieran, Marie, Mark, Melly, Melvin (and your beautiful precious daughter), Moira, the 3 Nats, the Nicks, Ollie, Pius (the gentle giant), Rachel, Randall, Ruth, Sam, Sharrrr, Stefan, ‘Stelle’ (who had the courage to ask us in the first place), T(h)eresa, Val, Vic (U2 should engage you for their sound team). Thank you for opening up more possibilities in my spiritual journey and for freeing me to dance among the liberated that Sunday afternoon.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Father, we thank you for making us good. And for counting us worthy to be your sons and daughters.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your tremendous outpouring of graces during the recent YCER. May you always hold the retreatants and us, your humble servants, in your loving arms.

29 June, Saturday – The Lord stands by us and gives us power

29 June – Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles

Peter (c.1–64) was a professional fisherman. He was the brother of St. Andrew the Apostle, the man who led him to Christ. Given the name Simon, he was renamed ‘Peter’ (Rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built. He later became a bishop and was the first pope. He was also a miracle worker.

Paul (c.3–c.65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted the Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus, Syria, to arrest another group of faithful, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting him, causing his conversion to Christianity.

He was baptized, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling, preaching, and teaching. His letters to the churches he help found form a large percentage of the New Testament. He knew and worked with many of the earliest saints and Fathers of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.

– Patron Saint Index

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Acts 12:1-11

King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.

On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. ‘Get up!’ he said ‘Hurry!’ – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, ‘Put on your belt and sandals.’ After he had done this, the angel next said, ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.’ Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. ‘Now I know it is all true’ he said. ‘The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.’

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2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

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The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom!

As I reflected on the fearlessness and courage of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, as well as the steadfastness of God’s love and protection over them, I am also reminded of the ways both saints failed Jesus – the first, in his cowardice renounced Jesus three times and the other, a zealous persecutor of Christians. In the eyes of the world, they would have been condemned for their betrayal, and yet, instead of writing them off, God touched their hearts and they became powerful instruments in His plans. This conversion of hearts drove them to proclaim the works of Jesus and proliferate Christianity throughout the world. From a place of love for God, they abandoned fully into the mission Christ had set forth for them, always trusting in His plans, and obedience unto death.

Recently, a member of the family was making some poor choices and the chosen behavior and actions really did not sit well with me. The person is someone I love very much, and it was difficult for me to reconcile her actions with our faith and values. However, speaking up might have caused a further rift in our relationship. This dilemma caused much heartache and many sleepless nights. It would have been easier for me to sweep it under the carpet and ignore the turbulence I felt in my heart. Instead, I sought solace in our Lord, turned to our Father in prayer and sought guidance from the Holy Spirit. Through the grace of God, I was prompted with a message and felt it was really God speaking through me. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the outcome was one of acceptance and respect on both sides. To be able to stand firm in my belief and faith while at the same time, conveying my feelings with clarity and in love, gave me peace. The courage and the power of conviction was so strong that I know only He could provide. Truth be told, I have never felt I had it in me to do something like that. Today, I am reminded of these words I once heard; God does not call the abled but enables those He calls. Despite our sinfulness, God calls us and uses us in ways unimaginable, all He asks of us, is to respond to Him in love!

For Jesus taught us and showed us that Love is the greatest commandment of all! The love of our Father though gentle and tender, is also powerful and strong. His love moves mountains and transforms hearts. And when we stand up in love for our faith, and for Christ, our Lord will in turn stand by us, protect us and bring us home safely to his heavenly kingdom!

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, enable us, your sinful children, to always turn to you for inspiration and direction in all that we say and do. May our efforts be pleasing to you and when our work is done here on earth, bring us home safely to you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for calling us to be your children, for choosing us to be your instruments. Even though we are broken, you make us whole again through the work we offer you. Thank you for your mercy, your grace and your love! 

28 June, Friday – He will bring the lost sheep home

28 June 2019 – The Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Heart of the Shepherd

We celebrate the love of Christ the Good Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep.

  • The Sunday Missal

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Ezekiel 34:11-16

The Lord God says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness. I shall bring them out of the countries where they are; I shall gather them together from foreign countries and bring them back to their own land. I shall pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in every inhabited place in the land. I shall feed them in good pasturage; the high mountains of Israel will be their grazing ground. There they will rest in good grazing ground; they will browse in rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.

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Romans 5:5-11

The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.

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Luke 15:3-7

Jesus spoke this parable to the scribes and Pharisees:

‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.’

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I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness

As parents these days, we find ourselves in constant tug of war with the influence of social media, what deem as norms in society today, prevalence of LGBTQ, the pro-choice movement, redefinition of what constitutes a family etc. How do we continue to instill our faith and beliefs with the insurgence of societal norms that goes against the core of Christianity? What is more heartbreaking is when our teenagers make choices in life that goes against the very grain of Christian values? How do we respond? As parents, we cling onto Jesus’ teachings that the greatest of all commandments is Love. We strive to love as Jesus did, tenderly and unconditionally but we stumble time and again due to our fallen nature. At times blaming ourselves for the choices our children make. At times, blaming them or the external influences, none of which solves the problem and we are left disheartened and broken.

Reflecting on today’s readings gives comfort and reminds  us of the mercy and love of our Abba Father. The reassurance that He watches over us and will never abandon us, no matter how far we stray, He will rescue us from darkness and despair! As long as, He is keeping watch; not a single one of us will be lost. The passage from Ezekiel paints such a vivid picture of how our Heavenly Father not only keeps watch but gives us the best and takes such good care of us like a good Shepherd does. Only the best will be given to His flock.

So today, we entrust ourselves and our children to our good good Shepherd, trusting in His ways and even though what may seem lost in our eyes, our Father in Heaven will bring the lost sheep home!

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer Heavenly Father, continue to strengthen the bonds of marriage and family, for the evil one is attacking the foundation of our home. This tug of war is so real and at times, we are at a lost of what to do. Arm us with your Holy Spirit to love, inspire, and transform, with our words and deeds, so that more may return to your fold.

ThanksgivingThank you Father for giving us Jesus so that we may be reconciled with you in His dying and be saved in His resurrection.

27 June, Thursday – To take root and ground ourselves in Him, our rock and our foundation!

27 June 2019

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Genesis 16:1-12,15-16

Abram’s wife Sarai had borne him no child, but she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘Listen, now! Since the Lord has kept me from having children, go to my slave-girl. Perhaps I shall get children through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai had said.

Thus after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan for ten years Sarai took Hagar her Egyptian slave-girl and gave her to Abram as his wife. He went to Hagar and she conceived. And once she knew she had conceived, her mistress counted for nothing in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May this insult to me come home to you! It was I who put my slave-girl into your arms but now she knows that she has conceived, I count for nothing in her eyes. Let the Lord judge between me and you.’ ‘Very well,’ Abram said to Sarai ‘your slave-girl is at your disposal. Treat her as you think fit.’ Sarai accordingly treated her so badly that she ran away from her.

The angel of the Lord met her near a spring in the wilderness, the spring that is on the road to Shur. He said, ‘Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I am running away from my mistress Sarai’ she replied. The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘I will make your descendants too numerous to be counted.’ Then the angel of the Lord said to her:

‘Now you have conceived, and you will bear a son,
and you shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard your cries of distress.
A wild-ass of a man he will be,
against every man, and every man against him,
setting himself to defy all his brothers.’

Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave to the son that Hagar bore the name Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

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Matthew 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!

‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’
Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and his teaching made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority, and not like their own scribes.

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It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord.”, who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven

To do the Father’s will and submit to His ways is often plague with much uncertainty & difficulty. In the last 18 months, having left a well-paying corporate job to embark on a new profession, I have many times questioned my choice, did I really do the right thing? Was it really what Our Lord intended? Perhaps I was mistaken about this calling? Even though, I know then as I do now, that this is His will.

Especially when the going gets tough, moments of doubts, anxieties and fears surface. There is a desire to go back to what was familiar, even though it had its downside, simply because it is recognizable, it is more predictable. As human beings, well, I guess I speak for myself, there is a need to know what lies ahead. The downfall of our first parents, came from this place of wanting to know, wasn’t it? It is so ingrained in us – this desire to know, to control and to strive towards a so-call better place where our current suffering or challenges can be eliminated. Don’t get me wrong, this ability to plan and look ahead is too a gift given to us by God, but done to the extreme, it can cripple us and create an illusion that we are god, and has the power to control the future, the outcome. This in turn causes unhappiness, unfulfillment and disappointment as it is after all, an illusion.

So instead of competing with God by seeking to take control of our lives, today’s Gospel reminds us to do the will of our Father by grounding ourselves in the word of the Lord and taking action from this foundation that is Christ. I was given this passage during a recent retreat, Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”. It takes a different orientation to live as Christians, from this place of connecting with God. It is counterintuitive to slow down but this is exactly what Christ is inviting us to do today. To take root and ground ourselves in Him, our rock and our foundation! In so doing, we are not charging ahead based on our own intellect or strength but one that is informed by our Father’s will. It is in hearing Him that we can move ahead to act. It is through gaining His wisdom and understanding that the actions we take in life, is grounded in Him and united with His will. So, I am learning to slow down, to take root in Our Lord, learning to spend time with him; to be with Him. For we are after all, “human beings and not human doings”.

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: My Lord and my God, as many great saints before us, who were all honored for their actions and their faith, one unifying thread in their lives is that they all have a beautiful intimate relationship with you, that formed their will which is united with yours. Teach us to be still so that we can hear your will, and in turn inspire our actions that comes from this place of deep knowing.

Thanksgiving: Our Father, thank you for the gift of Christ who shows us 2000 years ago, what it means to do your will; unto death He remained obedient because He is so intimately united with you. He has role model for us what it is to be call Christians!

26 June, Wednesday – The Usual Suspects

26 June 2019

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Genesis 15:1-12,17-18

It happened that the word of the Lord was spoken to Abram in a vision, ‘Have no fear, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great.’

‘My Lord,’ Abram replied ‘what do you intend to give me? I go childless…’ Then Abram said, ‘See, you have given me no descendants; some man of my household will be my heir.’ And then this word of the Lord was spoken to him, ‘He shall not be your heir; your heir shall be of your own flesh and blood.’ Then taking him outside he said, ‘Look up to heaven and count the stars if you can. Such will be your descendants’ he told him. Abram put his faith in the Lord, who counted this as making him justified.

‘I am the Lord’ he said to him ‘who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldaeans to make you heir to this land.’ ‘My Lord,’ Abram replied ‘how am I to know that I shall inherit it?’ He said to him, ‘Get me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these, cut them in half and put half on one side and half facing it on the other; but the birds he did not cut in half. Birds of prey came down on the carcases but Abram drove them off.

Now as the sun was setting Abram fell into a deep sleep, and terror seized him. When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, there appeared a smoking furnace and a firebrand that went between the halves. That day the Lord made a Covenant with Abram in these terms:

‘To your descendants I give this land,

from the wadi of Egypt to the Great River,

the river Euphrates.’

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Matthew 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire. I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.’

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“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves”

The first time I ever watched Kevin Spacey in a movie was in the 1995 suspense thriller The Usual Suspects. Spacey plays the role of Verbal Kint, a physically crippled, small time con artist who survives a gang related massacre. This sets the stage for the rest of the movie, with Verbal narrating the events leading up to this violent incident. Throughout the movie, the audience is led to believe that a ruthless, shadowy villain by the name of Keyser Söze was behind this crime while Verbal feebly watches as things unfold. However – during the last five minutes of the movie, it’s revealed that Verbal fabricated the story to cover up his evil deeds and was in fact Keyser Söze.

Jesus directly warns his disciples of those who appear to be in sheep’s clothe but are wolves in disguise. Their intentions are not to live harmoniously with the rest of the flock and follow our beloved shepherd, but to separate the weak and unsuspecting and devour the vulnerable. For as Paul wrote – “for such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11: 13-15)

How do we recognize and guard against these antagonists of our faith? Jesus commands that we must first know who they are by examining their actions as “…every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” Our ability to discern good fruit from bad fruit would only be enhanced through the study of the Bible, prayer and fellowship. In time, those evil-doers will be revealed by their methods (2 Peter 2: 1-22) and doctrine (Galatians 1: 6-10).

The final line in the Usual Suspects is narrated by Spacey where he states “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, he’s gone”. Let us not be tricked by the devil and his false prophets. Let us arm ourselves with the word of the Lord, shielded by His grace and joined with other fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. For as with Abraham, the fruits of our faith in Him are eternal and everlasting life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the wisdom to recognize and subdue the wolves in our lives.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we give thanks for the power of your teachings and the grace of your new covenant – through the death and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ.

25 June, Tuesday – Selfless Living

25 June 2019

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Genesis 13:2, 5-18

Abram was a very rich man, with livestock, silver and gold. Lot, who was travelling with Abram, had flocks and cattle of his own, and tents too. The land was not sufficient to accommodate them both at once, for they had too many possessions to be able to live together. Dispute broke out between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and those of Lot’s. (The Canaanites and the Perizzites were then living in the land.) Accordingly Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no dispute between me and you, nor between my herdsmen and yours, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land open before you? Part company with me: if you take the left, I will go right; if you take the right, I will go left.’

Looking round, Lot saw all the Jordan plain, irrigated everywhere – this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – like the garden of the Lord or the land of Egypt, as far as Zoar. So Lot chose all the Jordan plain for himself and moved off eastwards. Thus they parted company: Abram settled in the land of Canaan; Lot settled among the towns of the plain, pitching his tents on the outskirts of Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were vicious men, great sinners against the Lord.

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted company with him, ‘Look all round from where you are towards the north and the south, towards the east and the west. All the land within sight I will give to you and your descendants for ever. I will make your descendants like the dust on the ground: when men succeed in counting the specks of dust on the ground, then they will be able to count your descendants! Come, travel through the length and breadth of the land, for I mean to give it to you.’

So Abram went with his tents to settle at the Oak of Mamre, at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

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Matthew 7:6, 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.

‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.

‘Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’

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So always treat others as you would like them to treat you

I remember some time ago, seeing a video on YouTube showing someone teaching teenagers how to deal with bullying. In the first part, the instructor squared off against his bully, choosing to respond to each of his insults with an equally forceful retaliation. Needless to say, the exchange escalated quickly.

In the second part, the instructor again stood up against his bully. This time, however, instead of reacting angrily to his taunts, the instructor simply smiled and agreed with the comments. Despite the bully’s best efforts to sustain his attacks, he did not know how to keep up the aggression.

This is the type of relationship and interaction I imagine when I read the Gospel of today. If we were to treat each other as we want to be treated, the world within our control would be a substantially better world. We see this clearly in the first reading, in the interactions between Lot and Abram. By choosing not to quibble over who is entitled to what, Abram soothed over what could have been a potentially explosive encounter.

As a Christian, I pray that I may always be able to keep this in mind and learn to put my self-interest and ego aside. May we always be filled with love and compassion for one another!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, help us keep in mind that everything we have comes from You and that everything we do, should always be to serve only You.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful, Father, for everything that You have gifted us.

24 June, Monday – Our Role Model

24 June 2019 – The Birth of John the Baptist

You celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist, the main specially chosen by God to be the herald of the Saviour and to prepare the people for his coming.

  • Sunday MIssal

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Isaiah 49:1-6

Islands, listen to me,
pay attention, remotest peoples.
The Lord called me before I was born,
from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.
He made my mouth a sharp sword,
and hid me in the shadow of his hand.
He made me into a sharpened arrow,
and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel)
in whom I shall be glorified’;
while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain,
I have exhausted myself for nothing’;
and all the while my cause was with the Lord,
my reward with my God.
I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord,
my God was my strength.
And now the Lord has spoken,
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
to gather Israel to him:
‘It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I will make you the light of the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’

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Acts 13:22-26

Paul said: ‘God deposed Saul and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”

‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you.’

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Luke 1:57-66,80

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

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And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him

I recently read about Mr Thio Gim Hock, an 81-year-old evangelist, who is also the chief executive officer of a listed company. Mr Thio is a very successful businessman and heads multiple businesses. Yet, despite his wealth and material success, he travels to faraway places like Pakistan, Siberia and India to speak at evangelistic rallies. In many of these areas, he risks his personal safety while preaching and spreading God’s work.

To me, he’s kind of like a modern-day, Singaporean, John the Baptist.

Today, we celebrate the birth of St John the Baptist. He was born to the high priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, when they were both in their old age. And it was during Elizabeth’s pregnancy that our Mother Mary goes to stay and help. St John was born and, in time, grew to be the prophet who prepares the way for, and announces the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

I have always found St John to be an intriguing character. Given his successes, he could have chosen to bask in the glory and devotion of his followers. Instead, St John chose to redirect all this attention to Jesus.

Many of us enjoy successes, in our church, at our jobs and in life, often receiving platitudes and accolades. As Christians, we know that these successes ultimately come from God. Yet, our tendency is to claim these successes as our own, thinking that we deserve them on the basis that they are a result of our hard work. Let us learn from St John the Baptist and keep our eyes on our God and give credit where credit is truly due.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Help us Lord to always give credit where credit is due, to know that the reason behind all of our successes in our lives come from You.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for sending St John the Baptist to us, as an example of a true servant of God and of someone who understands the real reason behind his strength.

23 June, Sunday – God, Our Provider

23 June 2019 – The Body and Blood of Christ

The Priesthood of Melchizedek

Like Melchizedek of old we bring bread and wine to the altar and Christ transforms it into his own body and blood for the life of the multitude of the redeemed.

  • Sunday Missal

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Genesis 14:18-20

Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing:

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High for handing over your enemies to you.’
And Abram gave him a tithe of everything.

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1 Corinthians 11:23-26

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

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Luke 9:11-17

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.

It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.
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They all ate as much as they wanted

Growing up in Queenstown with my grandaunt, who was my guardian, she often stressed over what food to buy, and how we could afford it. She constantly looked at our finances, at when her daughter was going to pass her the monthly allowance. I remember our conversations about what to buy during her trips to the wet market, and how she could go about feeding us, at as low a cost as possible.

One of the earliest lessons I learnt in psychology class was about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The most basic of these needs are the Physiological Needs — including the need for food, clothing, air and shelter. These are the first needs that all humans will strive towards before they can even think of anything else.

With that perspective and the experience in my own life, I have always been intrigued by the feeding of the five thousand. I imagine being there in the crowd; hungry, thirsty and tired. Then I imagine being passed food that I can eat to my fill; without having to toil for it. God indeed does provide for me!

In the second reading of today, Jesus offers His life for us, in the form of bread and wine. Once again, God caters to our most basic of needs, and through this, our Lord Jesus Himself becomes a part of us. Over time, we literally become more and more like Him.

Brothers and sisters, let us always hunger for the food that our Heavenly Father provides — food that nourishes and feeds our souls so that we grow strong in faith. Let us all learn to be contented with what we are given by God. Only then can we avoid being greedy for all things material and keep us focused on the real prize – eternal life in paradise.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, we pray that we remember that You are always there for us. We pray that no matter what happens, You are there for us.

Thanksgiving: We thank You Father, for sending Your only Son to bear the burdens of our sin. We thank You Jesus for being there to feed us.

22 June, Saturday – Thy Will be done

22 June 2019

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2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Must I go on boasting, though there is nothing to be gained by it? But I will move on to the visions and revelations I have had from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago, was caught up – whether still in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows – right into the third heaven. I do know, however, that this same person – whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows – was caught up into paradise and heard things which must not and cannot be put into human language. I will boast about a man like that, but not about anything of my own except my weaknesses. If I should decide to boast, I should not be made to look foolish, because I should only be speaking the truth; but I am not going to, in case anyone should begin to think I am better than he can actually see and hear me to be.

In view of the extraordinary nature of these revelations, to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and stop me from getting too proud! About this thing, I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me, but he has said, ‘My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.’ So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.

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Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.

‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

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Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In the study of Economics, there is an assumption made that consumers and producers have perfect knowledge. This means that everybody knows the price of a good way in advance in the future and that there can be no secret production methods as everybody will know what it is the moment it is discovered. Unfortunately, I think sometimes we behave in this way – with the desire to have knowledge of all the things in our life.

There is this desire for everyone to be in control of everything – the ability to plan out one’s life according to a plan which is suitable to his wants or desires. This gives the person a sense of autonomy where there can be nobody available to ruin the plan. The readings of today remind us that this is not what we are called to do in our prayer life – we are supposed to trust that God has a plan for us.

Some may then ask – how do we strike a balance between submitting to God’s plan and being in control of our own destiny? This is something that we need to take it to the Lord in prayer. In our prayer, we need to ask God to let us exercise the gift of Prudence well in our daily lives. The situations in our lives are different but the Christian values we apply to them are all the same. These values do not change over time but instead are timeless for they were given by Christ.

We need to accept that the the desire to have perfect knowledge is a desire which we should give up as Christians. It is hard to surrender our will to God as we fear that we are asked to give up the treasured gifts and material possessions we own. However, sometimes God requires us to surrender the little we have so that He can bless us with his abundant gifts. Are we prepared to accept that path?

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, melt the hardness and coldness in our hearts.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who have given up all they have for the Lord.