Monthly Archives: December 2019

31 December, Tuesday – New Year Resolutions

31 December

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1 John 2:18-21

Children, these are the last days;
you were told that an Antichrist must come,
and now several antichrists have already appeared;
we know from this that these are the last days.
Those rivals of Christ came out of our own number, but they had never really belonged;
if they had belonged, they would have stayed with us;
but they left us, to prove that not one of them
ever belonged to us.
But you have been anointed by the Holy One,
and have all received the knowledge.
It is not because you do not know the truth that I am writing to you
but rather because you know it already
and know that no lie can come from the truth.

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John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word:
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.
All that came to be had life in him
and that life was the light of men,
a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light
that enlightens all men;
and he was coming into the world.
He was in the world
that had its being through him,
and the world did not know him.
He came to his own domain
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to all who believe in the name of him
who was born not out of human stock
or urge of the flesh
or will of man
but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims:
‘This is the one of whom I said:
He who comes after me ranks before me
because he existed before me.’

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received –
yes, grace in return for grace,
since, though the Law was given through Moses,
grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.

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And we saw his glory

With widespread access to streaming platforms such as Netflix, bingeing on drama series is now a thing. Several of these series are designed to be highly addictive, and most would fall prey to the prolonged hours of viewing, as time-wasting as they are.

The Gospel passage today contain the famous words that refer to the Incarnation. Without Jesus, I suppose God would have remained somewhat abstract and probably distant. But in this one great act of love, our world is changed forever, for Jesus showed us the way to His Father and to our salvation. The way is a narrow one, however, and it takes work to change ourselves so that we become more like Christ.

Since we are at the brink of welcoming the new year, making New Year resolutions can be one way to help us become better followers of Christ. Rather than the usual ‘cut down on drinking’/ ‘do more exercise’ kind of resolutions, I suggest resolutions of a slightly different kind. In his book ‘Catholicism’, Bishop Barron mentions four main areas that people are addicted to – wealth, power, pleasure and honour. Indeed, I believe that each one of us can name an addiction under one of more of these categories. For example, I am not really into accumulating a lot of wealth, nor do I enjoy having power, but I am definitely addicted to honour. I often fantasise about myself getting accolades for something great that I did. With that awareness, I know I have to consciously curb those thoughts and desire to be honoured for the things I do.

So what is it that you are addicted to – wealth, power, pleasure or honour? What kind of resolution can you make to steer yourself away from that addiction and towards Christ?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)

Prayer: We pray for the grace to discern our addictions in life, so that we can resolve to not let ourselves be enslaved by them.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for 2016, for the good, the bad and the ugly, as they have contributed, in one way or another, to our relationship with our Lord.

30 December, Monday – Prayerful contemplation

30 December

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1 John 2:12-17

I am writing to you, my own children,
whose sins have already been forgiven through his name;
I am writing to you, fathers,
who have come to know the one
who has existed since the beginning;
I am writing to you, young men,
who have already overcome the Evil One;
I have written to you, children,
because you already know the Father;
I have written to you, fathers,
because you have come to know the one
who has existed since the beginning;
I have written to you, young men,
because you are strong and God’s word has made its home in you,
and you have overcome the Evil One.
You must not love this passing world
or anything that is in the world.
The love of the Father cannot be
in any man who loves the world,
because nothing the world has to offer
– the sensual body,
the lustful eye,
pride in possessions –
could ever come from the Father
but only from the world;
and the world, with all it craves for,
is coming to an end;
but anyone who does the will of God
remains for ever.

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Luke 2:36-40

There was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

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Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

I often wondered how Jesus’s childhood went by. Was it one which was uneventful, like a typical ordinary child? Did he also struggle with the usual issues that a young child of his age would face? The Gospels are silent on this but I am sure that throughout this process, it was a prayerful family. A prayerful family means a family which always remember to offer up their joys and struggles to the Lord.

The life of a Christian is not an easy one. There are struggles and challenges which we face from the secular world which often force us to make questions that wonder if we are doing the right thing. St John reminds us in the first reading that the world as we know it is passing away. As children of God, we should not be having a love for the world but instead focus on the heavenly kingdom. I struggle with this all the time because it is easy to get caught up with the issues in the world. The pleasures of the flesh and the pursuit of status and power is something that I really find it hard to push away. It is in situations like this that I believe that prayer is important for each one of us.

Prayer opens up the communication channels with God and allows us to discover what is God’s plan for us. Through the reading of Sacred Scripture and silent time with God, we discover for ourselves the plan which God has meant for us. The end of the calendar year allows us to discover the areas where we have grown and the areas where we have fallen short. Let us approach the Lord in thanksgiving for all that has come to us and ask Him to show the way for the future.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us discover the plan you have for us and let us not waver in our aim to achieve it.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who have shown us love.

 

29 Dec, Sunday – Pilgrims Searching for Love and Home

29 Dec 2019 – Feast of the Holy Family

[Let us adore Christ, the Son of God, who made himself obedient to Mary and to Joseph.]

The feast of the Holy Family offers the opportunity to reflect on the mystery of family life. Every family and community share the perplexing, frustrating, demanding challenge Luke described. Put most simply, Mary and Joseph faced the difficult discovery that Jesus was not going along with them every step of the way. It is a real story of a family conflict and is symbolic of all kinds of relationships.

We know what it is like when family members do not go along with us on the journey. When Mary and Joseph confronted Jesus in the Temple, they confronted the fact that he would have to discover his own path in life. No matter what they might hope for him, he did not belong to them.

The story reminds us that love is rooted in profound reverence for the mystery of the other. Such reverence cultivates profound respect for the other’s mysterious freedom. In that, we learn to desire that the other will become who they are meant to be rather than what we would have them be.

Excerpt taken from: Feast of the Holy Family: The Mystery of Love (https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/scripture-life/feast-holy-family-mystery-love) 

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Ecclesiasticus 3:2-6,12-14

He who fears the Lord respects his parents

The Lord honours the father in his children,
  and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.
Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins,
  he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.
Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own,
  he shall be heard on the day when he prays.
Long life comes to him who honours his father,
  he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.
My son, support your father in his old age,
  do not grieve him during his life.
Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,
  do not despise him in your health and strength;
for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten
  but will serve as reparation for your sins.

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Colossians 3:12-21 

Family life in the Lord 

You are God’s chosen race his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful. 

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Wives give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.

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Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

The Flight into Egypt and the return to Nazareth

After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

 I called my son out of Egypt.
After Herod’s death, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he left for the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:

 

‘He will be called a Nazarene.’

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May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts… Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.

I was prepared to write my reflection on this Feast day more than a week ago but I could not put words to my thoughts as I was facing struggles of my own in my family. I was dumbfounded to be assigned this specific day, and while I knew intellectually, that God had a message for me in here, it took some wresting within for me to finally sit down to listen to Him.

We are Pilgrims

In three days, my family would be collecting a new set of keys to our rental apartment. We had been praying to find a new home in Singapore after moving back from Hong Kong. By the new year, this would be the fifth house that I will setting up home in, notwithstanding the many interim roofs we have temporarily rested our heavy-laden bodies to rest in. All these moves were made within the span of three years, over three countries. Some of them are moves related to jobs, while some were a result of grave illnesses within our families that required us to either ‘stay-put’ or ‘return-home’.

Whenever I behold the idea of packing up house again, I am seized with anxiety first, and then sadness for the home my family will soon be leaving behind. All the memories and efforts to dream up and personalise a blank space…must be let go. As my two-year old son is old enough to remember our various homes, I have been met with puzzling questions of “where is mummy-daddy house?” or “is this mummy-daddy house?” or “let’s go home!” even if ‘home’ is just a room for one week. I have held up hopes of stability as well as shed many tears for each of these homes. God knows that my heart aches for a place to sink roots in.

In the face of so much impermanence and instability, it is my faith that holds my fragile emotions together – however imperfectly. I humbly and wistfully recognise that my little family of three walks a shared path with the Holy Family. This is a realisation that struck me after I spent two successive Christmases accompanying a loved one in hospital over a cancer diagnosis – one with my husband and one with my mother. Surely Mary and Joseph must have struggled with the question of “not again, God?” when each time an angel forewarned them to “hasten and pack up, for you must leave this place.” Even if they had great faith, each blow of news and the logistics of being on the move must have been daunting – with a donkey or not.

How do we understand these difficult times? In my experience, I realise my efforts at understanding always fall short. The greater the effort I make, the more my heart and mind are fixated on the framework I have, and my framework is always too human, too limited, and too impatient. I perceive the things that have to be done and the answers I am seeking to be resolved in hours and days… but God is not limited by my perception of time. God’s plan exists in the dimension of eternity.

This is why the words of the prophets are never accepted in the present and can only be understood looking backwards: “He will be called a Nazarene.” This is why Herod and his son would fail to locate the Holy Family. God’s plan would still be carried out because God is above and beyond our human manipulations and frantic calculations.

I am learning to accept my family’s pilgrim state, as well as to embrace this sojourn of often being ‘homeless’ and always seeking a resting place, because I recognise this as an invitation from God to be very, very close to His chosen family – Jesus, Mary, Joseph. The privilege of too much earthly stability and permanence can turn out to be a grave distraction from seeking and desiring Eternal truths. Truths that will save our souls.

In Search for Love and Home

What are we really seeking in our lives? In the face of diagnoses of inexplicable illnesses, our fragile mortality, the sudden loss of a young life, the loss of a home, we realise how helpless and incapable we really are to make anything of true value happen without God’s grace. Evidently, we are human and not God. This is the ultimate truth that will strike at the heart of even the most stubbornly atheistic amidst us. Why does God permit this to happen to those whom He loves? Is this the kind of God whom I should place my hopes and trust in?

Our answers to this question will depend very much of what we understand about love, and ultimately the nature of God. For God is Love in its most perfect sense – more perfect, more profound, and vastly more giving than our minds can conceive. As St Thomas Aquinas said, “To love is to will the good of another.” Just as a parent would discipline a young child for the child’s own good, even if it involves certain pain or deprivation, so it is even more evident that God our loving Heavenly Father would desire the same for each of us in relation to our souls. We have a Father who suffers with us.

We need only look to the suffering person of Christ to understand the extent of God’s sacrificial love for us mankind. ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). A God who would give the gift of His own self, to be born as flesh in the infant Jesus, and Himself choose to take on the sins of others and die on the cross for this purpose, in order to bring us into eternal communion with Him in heaven… who could this God be?

In the face of all earthly suffering and our perplexing unanswered questions, let us look to these images: the vagrant and obedient Holy Family, Christ the pilgrim boy and mocked messiah, and Christ the suffering saviour, who, with his wounds, points us to His Father – who is also our most loving Father. How beautiful it is to truly and intimately know this God who suffers alongside me, and who loves me so.

In Him all of our journeys end. With Him lies our final, eternal, most perfect Home.

(Today’s Oxygen by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Pray with me please, dear friends, as I journey with the ones I love on the difficult paths of pain and healing. Pray for the grace to see our lives as God sees, for consolation that will be tangible, for hope that will carry us beyond the physical senses. Pray for hope and an increase in faith. As we pray, I believe that many among us who need these words shall also be healed.

Thanksgiving: Let us give thanks and delight in joyful praise for each and every day we are given. To live, to love, to forgive and seek forgiveness, to mend and heal, to laugh and breathe deeply. The best and only life we have is right now. Let us give thanks with a grateful heart.

28 December, Saturday – The Magic of Dreams

Dec 28 – Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

The Holy Innocents are the children slaughtered by Herod the Great when he tried to kill the infant Christ.

  • Patron Saint Index

The children died for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourned for the death of martyrs. The Christ child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to Himself.

To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.

  • From a sermon by bishop St. Quodvultdeus about the Holy Innocents

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1 John 1:5-2:2

This is what we have heard from Jesus Christ,
and the message that we are announcing to you:
God is light; there is no darkness in him at all.
If we say that we are in union with God
while we are living in darkness,
we are lying because we are not living the truth.
But if we live our lives in the light,
as he is in the light,
we are in union with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.

If we say we have no sin in us,
we are deceiving ourselves
and refusing to admit the truth;
but if we acknowledge our sins,
then God who is faithful and just
will forgive our sins and purify us
from everything that is wrong.
To say that we have never sinned
is to call God a liar
and to show that his word is not in us.

I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.

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Matthew 2:13-18

After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

I called my son out of Egypt.

Herod was furious when he realised that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting:
it was Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted because they were no more.

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When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.

I’ve been very interested in the science behind our dreams. They occur very regularly, even though we may not always remember them when we awake. Serving to help solve problems in our lives, incorporating memories, and processing of our emotions, dreams provide us with a glimpse of what our subconscious mind is grappling with at the present moment.

In today’s Gospel, Joseph’s response to the dream saved his son’s life. He discerned that the dream was a tangible manifestation of God, and acted upon it swiftly. However, most dreams are seldom as clear. In fact, my dreams tend to be very lucid and oftentimes nonsensical. Yet, there are recurring themes and images that provoke much introspection. I have found that dreams bring to the surface our deepest desires and nudge us towards resolving them.

In recent months, I have kept a dreams journal where I record my dreams and pen some reflections on what they could mean. This has helped me crystallise my thoughts and informed a number of major decisions that I had to take. It has also shone the spotlight on areas of my life that I had been neglecting or choosing to ignore. If we strive towards Christian living in our work and personal lives, why not broaden that intent to our non-waking lives as well?

Wishing all of you sweet and meaningful dreams, and many nights of restful sleep.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer:  Abba Father, open our hearts, minds, and ears to your call. As we deepen our relationship with you, draw us closer and keep us on the straight and narrow path.

Thanksgiving:  We thank you, Father, for the many ways that you reach out to us. Thank you for always being present, even though we may overlook you sometimes.

27 December, Friday – Unexplainable Truths

27 December – Feast of St. John, Apostle, Evangelist

St. John, also known as the “beloved disciple” of Jesus’ was the son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of St. James the Great, and was called one of the Sons of Thunder. Before becoming Jesus’ disciple, he was already a disciple of St. John the Baptist, and a friend of St. Peter the Apostle. He was called by Jesus during the first year of Christ’s ministry, and travelled everywhere with him. He took part in the Last Supper, and was the only one of the Twelve not to forsake the Saviour in the hour of his Passion, standing at the foot of the cross.

He was made guardian of Our Lady by Jesus, and he took her into his home. Upon hearing of the Resurrection, he was the first to reach the tomb; when he met the risen Lord at the Lake of Tiberius, he was the first to recognise him.

During the era of the new Church, he worked in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. During Jesus’ ministry, he tried to block a Samaritan from their group, but Jesus explained the open nature of the new Way, and he worked on that principle to found churches in Asia Minor and baptising converts in Samaria. He was imprisoned with Peter for preaching after Pentecost. He wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and possibly the Book of Revelation.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 John 1:1-4

Something which has existed since the beginning,
that we have heard,
and we have seen with our own eyes;
that we have watched
and touched with our hands:
the Word, who is life –
this is our subject.
That life was made visible:
we saw it and we are giving our testimony,
telling you of the eternal life
which was with the Father and has been made visible to us.
What we have seen and heard
we are telling you
so that you too may be in union with us,
as we are in union
with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete.

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John 20:2-8

On the first day of the week Mary of Magdala came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed.

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And he saw and believed

Today’s Gospel baffles me. Why did the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, not go into the tomb when he arrived first? Why did he wait for Simon Peter to enter the tomb, before he decided to go in? Why was it only after he entered the tomb, that he believed Jesus had risen from the dead? What was the significance of the headcloth rolled up separately from the other burial cloths?

Upon further searching, there are a few ‘myths’ explaining this. One is that in Jewish tradition, a master folds his napkin neatly during a meal to indicate that he is returning – symbolic that Jesus has risen and is returning. While it is a nice analogy, this claim has also been disputed, because the text translation is quite clear that the cloth was rolled, not folded; furthermore, there’s no evidence supporting this Jewish mealtime tradition.

What’s certain though, is that Jesus had escaped the burial cloths without disturbing its form and had rolled the headcloth neatly. Jesus’ resurrection is something that’s remarkable and unexplainable by this world. When the disciple saw the cloths, he knew that His resurrection was the truth. Was he afraid though? Was that why he waited for Simon Peter? Did he gain courage when there was company?

How many times have we been held back by fear, when the truth is right there sitting in front of us, yet we do not see it? Are we more afraid when we are on our own? Do we feel more encouraged when we have companionship? Can we just trust in God?

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” “Do not be afraid for I am with you.” These are the messages that strike me as I reflect on this Gospel. And especially in Christmastime, with all the many parties, it is easy to get carried away with the merrymaking. I want to pause and remember the reason we are gathering – to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ. At the same time, also remembering that there are those who are alone or find it especially difficult during this season, to extend our love to them.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St John, apostle and evangelist. Throughout the Gospel of John, references are made to “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. In some texts, it is believed that this beloved disciple is John, the author of this gospel. Perhaps he did not feel worthy to explicitly mention his own name in his writings, but he knew with certainty that Jesus knew him and yet loved him fully. Love is a recurring theme in all of John’s writings (the Gospel and his letters). I pray that we too may have this conviction of God’s love for us and share it willingly with everyone.

1 John 4:7-10 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we pray for courage to search for the truth. We pray to always trust in you and not be afraid, because we remember that You are always with us. We pray for all those who are alone this season, that they too will remember Your love and be encouraged.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for sending your only Son to us. Thank you, for loving us. May we always be a true reflection of Christ and share this love with everyone. Amen.

26 December, Thursday – Training Ground

26 December – Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr

St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. A deacon and a preacher, all we know of him is related in the Acts of the Apostles. While preaching the gospel in the streets, angry Jews who believed his message to be blasphemy dragged him outside the city, and stoned him to death. In the crowd, on the side of the mob, was a man who would later be known as St. Paul.

– Patron Saint Index

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Acts 6:8-10;7:54-59

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. They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.

But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’

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Matthew 10:17-22

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.

‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved.’

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Do not worry… the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you

Many may see Boxing Day as a day of continued Christmas festivities — to indulge in post-Christmas sales, merrymaking and feasting and, depending on one’s age and alcohol tolerance, to recover from hangovers. Work in the office grinds to a standstill as many take this lull period to catch a breather before the New Year begins.

As Christians, we commemorate the Feast Day of St Stephen, the first Martyr of the Church. Today’s readings seem to be a sombre contrast to those in the week leading up to Christmas. The earlier readings invoke an eager anticipation of the coming of the Chosen One. Today, however, we are reminded that Christianity is, above all, a calling to stand up for our faith, even if it means suffering for what we believe in. As followers of Christ, we are called not just to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus but, like St Stephen, to imitate His life, even in death.

I left my job with a Catholic charity earlier this year after much discernment. After a period of ‘waiting on the Lord’ and expecting a radical life change, I found myself led into a middle-management position in a large secular organisation. An anti-climax to say the least – I had hoped to go into theological studies or missionary work and, despite knocking on many doors, nothing came to fruition. To me, leaving the corporate sector for a charity was a significant step in dying to my pride and self-centredness; returning to the corporate sector felt like a regression in my faith journey.

It occurred to me one morning that perhaps the marketplace is where God intends me to be. This meant putting to rest my self-indulgent and grandiose aspirations of running off to change the world ‘out there’ (and hopefully dying a martyr’s death). Instead, I am called to use my abilities to make a difference in the workplace I occupy, in the here and now. As I ease into my new role, I am cognisant that certain projects and personalities need to be navigated with care. Perhaps this is my training ground to live out my identity as a Christian in the marketplace, trusting that God will be speaking in me and acting through me to fulfil His greater plan.

As we celebrate the Feast of St Stephen today, let us stay rooted in our faith and fix our eyes on God, especially when we experience turbulence or opposition.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Seet)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for fortitude and faith to respond to Your call, wherever it may lead us.  

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for Jesus and the saints who, through their lives and deaths, show us how to be true apostles. Grant that we may stay true to our faith and follow in their footsteps. 

25 December, Wednesday (Mass in the Day) – In Search of…

25 December – Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord (Mass in the Day)

The Word Made Flesh

For us the Word of God is no longer the message spoken by prophets, but the messenger of God in person, the Eternal Word begotten of the Father before time began. 

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Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful on the mountains,
are the feet of one who brings good news,
who heralds peace, brings happiness,
proclaims salvation,
and tells Zion,
‘Your God is king!’

Listen! Your watchmen raise their voices,
they shout for joy together,
for they see the Lord face to face,
as he returns to Zion.

Break into shouts of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord is consoling his people,
redeeming Jerusalem.

The Lord bares his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

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Hebrews 1:1-6

At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is. He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty. So he is now as far above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher than their own name.

God has never said to any angel: You are my Son, today I have become your father; or: I will be a father to him and he a son to me. Again, when he brings the First-born into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him.

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John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word:
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.
All that came to be had life in him
and that life was the light of men,
a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light
that enlightens all men;
and he was coming into the world.
He was in the world
that had its being through him,
and the world did not know him.
He came to his own domain
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to all who believe in the name of him
who was born not out of human stock
or urge of the flesh
or will of man
but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims:
‘This is the one of whom I said:
He who comes after me ranks before me
because he existed before me.’

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received –
yes, grace in return for grace,
since, though the Law was given through Moses,
grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.

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And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God

I have just returned from a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land and was blessed to have walked in the land where Jesus lived, preached, died and then rose and ascended into heaven. Celebrating daily mass at the many holy sites was truly all I wanted and, particularly so at the Holy Sepulchre (on Golgotha) and in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, I felt His presence strongly.

We also had an hour of adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament one evening in the chapel within the convent where we were staying in Jerusalem and as I struggled to understand His supreme sacrifice (we had visited the home of Caiaphas and prayed Psalm 88 in the very dungeon Jesus spent the night before his crucifixion), I asked in my heart how is it that God would have put his only son through all that pain, torture and misery. I could only trust in faith that God’s divine plan would reveal His love and mercy to me along the way.

And so he did. In the various encounters I had with the shopowners in the Old City on our free half day, in the daily interactions with the pilgrims (some of whom I had met the previous year on a similar trip through France to Portugal), and in my dreams as I slumbered for at least 10 hours each night.

Because despite the conflict that I felt within the land, there was an unmistakeable aura – one that spoke of perserverance, of never giving up. One that radiate an ethereal peace, love and joy. Jesus was ever-present as we traced His footsteps, guided by our knowledgeable and grandfatherly guide, led by our slightly regimental but ever-loving tour leader. They brought to life each and every site as we took pictures, prayed and reflected. From the Church of the Visitation to the very spot where He gave up His sacred life, I could feel the sense of foreboding and inevitability of the fate our Saviour was meant to live out.

Yet amidst all this ‘heaviness’, I could also reflect back on the hope of His birth. We just had a small party at home and the choir came and sang familiar favourites. Those lyrics mean so much more to me now and as I look back on our pilgrimage, I praise God for calling me to His land – where conflict and tolerance are part and parcel of everyday life. Where walls are erected to demarcate governance and control. However, I know in my heart that these are mere symbols erected by man. We, brothers and sisters, are called to destroy all walls that we erect within our hearts; to embrace the poor, the afflicted, the downtrodden. Because the greatest gift we have been given was not under a tree. It was born in a manger, under a shining star so that we would embrace it and be shining stars wherever we walk.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer:  Father, we thank you for the gift of Jesus, our Emmanuel, your Holy Son.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for being our shining star in our lives.

25 December, Wednesday (Mass at Dawn) – In the quiet of the morning

25 December – Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord (Mass at Dawn)

The First Dawn of a New Age

We celebrate the marvellous events of the first morning of a new world, when the kindness and love of God our Saviour made us his holy people, the Lord’s Redeemed, his ‘sought-after’, and his ‘city-not-forsaken’.

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Isaiah 62:11-12

This the Lord proclaims
to the ends of the earth:

Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Look,
your saviour comes,
the prize of his victory with him,
his trophies before him.’
They shall be called ‘The Holy People’,
‘the Lord’s Redeemed.’
And you shall be called ‘The-sought-after’,
‘City-not-forsaken.’

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Titus 3:4-7

When the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.

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Luke 2:15-20

When the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

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And you shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord … a city that is not forsaken

Christmas Midnight Mass is over. Some have partied before mass, most will do so after mass. We look forward to more fellowship with loved ones and friends come Christmas Day. For now, we sleep.

As we slumber, in the quiet serenity of the wee hours of the morning, many miracles of Christmas were taking place…

…God became man

…Mary became the Mother of Man and of God

…Mary, Joseph and Jesus became a family, establishing for us, our own indivisible spiritual bonds of family to God and to the universal Catholic faith – we became brothers and sisters to one another.

…a star points the way to eternal light. And darkness of sin and fear will be forever dispelled.

…Shepherds, the lowly and unworthy ones, were called to recognize Almighty God whilst the ‘high and mighty’ remain in darkness and ignorance

…the Son of God was born in a trough used to feed animals. And God provides for His people, food for their eternal souls through His Son given to us in due time, in the Eucharist.

…in the small, insignificant, hick, backwater town called Bethlehem, God re-established the seat of His Divine Majesty.

…In the birth and life of Jesus, we were given our own divine mission and calling. All of us, are called to fulfill our own divine mission in the footsteps and example of Jesus.

…as we slept, Heaven was being united to earth through the adoption of men by God, in the humanity of Jesus, His Son.

In the quiet of the morning, a multitude of miracles and gifts were being bestowed upon us. In the quiet of the morning, God gave us His Son — a Savior was born. Our Savior.

Three Christmases ago, at Midnight Mass, I was asked to carry the Eucharistic gifts to the Sanctuary. With me were several others including a lady, Bev (not her real name), who had a very interesting story to tell. She shared with me that she was an atheist, but every time she passed by Nativity Church, for a good number of years she felt a longing to come inside and to discover more about the Catholic faith. But, she never had the guts to do so. At this mass, she finally plucked the courage to attend mass for the very first time. And she was asked to bring the gifts. She was clueless as to what was going on of course, but after I explained the significance of the offering of the gifts and what the gifts themselves represented, she was deeply moved and said she felt it was a powerful and undeniable affirmation from God, that she was being called to the faith. That, as she presented the gifts to the priest, she was giving herself to God. She eventually did undergo RCIA and is today a faithful Catholic. A Christmas miracle. In the quiet of that Christmas morning, Jesus was truly born in Bev’s spirit.

In the pre-dawn hours and as first light breaks, between 24 December and Christmas morning, God has placed a present underneath all our pillows – the gift of our salvation. The gift of His Son who was born for one reason alone – to give His life to save us.

Blessed Christmas.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father help us. Amidst the din and noise of Christmas night and day, we are so caught up with many other things. We cannot sense the sacredness of this silent night, this holy night. And we cannot see the light of Christ in the midst of all the bright lights and dazzle of this material world. We cannot hear the quiet and peacefulness of this Christmas morning, when the Prince of Peace is born.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for your precious gift of Jesus. Thank you for the precious gift of our eternal salvation through our Savior given to us, this silent and holy night.

25 December, Wednesday (Midnight mass) – A Sign of Hope

Dear readers,

A most blessed and joyous Christmas to you! 

Today’s reflection is the first one written by a new contributor, Cynthia. We welcome her to our team and on our journey of sharing our faith through writing. 

Cynthia Chew:

Cynthia was born a Buddhist but desired to be a Catholic since she attended primary education in a Catholic school. God finally found a way for her to be converted in 1998 when she met and married a cradle Catholic. The rest is not history.

For the next 17 years, her faith remained a nominal one until ‘33 Days to Morning Glory’ when she consecrated herself to Mother Mary followed by Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) #49 at the Catholic Spirituality Centre in the same year, 2015. That is when her faith truly came alive and she realised that God is not up there but right here with us. The following year, her Prayer Experience Retreat took her faith to a whole new level of real. Blessed and armed with a new pair of eyes, ears and heart, Cynthia started to volunteer as a catechist in her parish at St Francis Xavier Church (despite a fear of public speaking), and with the fire of the spirit burning within, she continues to serve the Lord by joining a couple more other ministries, a well as helping out regularly as a food server at each CER.

It is not by chance that her first love is writing; from keeping diaries since her pubescent days, to wanting to be a published poet followed by a career as a journalist for over 20 years writing for fashion and beauty magazines like Marie Claire, Female and CLEO. Thanks to her close friend, Cecilia, who affirmed her of her charism of writing, Cynthia decided to take the leap of faith by sharing her spiritual journey through daily scripture reflections on Facebook with her friends. What better way to testify to his awesomeness at the same time to hopefully and subtly introduce God to her non-believer friends, than through social media!

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25 December – Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord (Midnight Mass)

The name “Christmas” was derived from Old English: “Cristes Maesse”, Christ’s Mass. It is a celebration of the anniversary of the birth of our Lord. In the earliest days of the Church there was no such feast; the Saviour’s birth was commemorated with the Epiphany by the Greek and other Eastern Churches.

The first mention of the feast, then kept on May 20, was made by Clement of Alexandria in the year 200. The Latin Church began in the year 300 to observe it on Dec 25, though there is no certainty that our Lord was born on that day.

Priests have, on this day, the privilege of saying three Masses, at midnight; daybreak, and morning. This was originally reserved for the pope alone; beginning about the fourth century, he celebrated a midnight Mass in the Lateran Basilica (in which according to tradition, the manger of Bethlehem is preserved), a second in the church of St. Anastasia, whose feast comes on Dec 25, and a third at the Vatican Basilica.

Many peculiar customs of the day are the outcome of the pagan celebrations of the January calends. The Christmas tree, of which the first known mention was made in 1605 at Strasbourg, was introduced into France and England in 1840. The feast is a holy day of obligation, preceded by the preparatory season of Advent and by a special vigil; should it fall on a Friday it abrogates the law of abstinence.

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Isaiah 9:1-7

The people that walked in darkness
has seen a great light;
on those who live in a land of deep shadow
a light has shone.
You have made their gladness greater,
you have made their joy increase;
they rejoice in your presence
as men rejoice at harvest time,
as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.

For the yoke that was weighing on him,
the barb across his shoulders,
the rod of his oppressor,
these you break as on the day of Midian.

For all the footgear of battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
is burnt,
and consumed by fire.

For there is a child born for us,
a son given to us
and dominion is laid on his shoulders;
and this is the name they give him:
Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God,
Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.
Wide is his dominion
in a peace that has no end,
for the throne of David
and for his royal power,
which he establishes and makes secure
in justice and integrity.
From this time onwards and for ever,
the jealous love of the Lord of Hosts will do this.

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Titus 2:11-14

God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions; we must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Christ Jesus. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.

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Luke 2:1-14

Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census – the first – took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.

In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing:

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to men who enjoy his favour.’

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This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger

If you look around now, you will see many signs and they are all shining brightly. I am talking about Christmas and all the festive lights and decorations, of course. Along the streets, in the malls and in many homes — there will be the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene for some.

Growing up in a Buddhist home, I remember how I longed to have a Christmas tree with its nice blinking lights in the house. As it was not allowed in the house, I was so desperate one time that I decided to build one made of newspapers and added my own collectible ornaments. Although I didn’t understand the meaning of what Christmas meant, that tree was a symbol of something I wanted to be a part of so much.

Many years later, my wish was fulfilled when I got baptized. I was able to celebrate Christmas without having to sneak around. The Christmas tree stands beautifully lit in my own home every year and it continues to be a sign of our faith and a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. But this festive season has since become a busy time of scrambling about shopping for presents, getting ready for our family holidays and feasting. This year however, is also the first time in over 10 years that we are spending the entire Advent here. I was at first disappointed that we were not able to go on a holiday like we usually do, and even felt self-pity, especially when all my social feeds are loaded with friends’ awesome holidays. I feel like I am grounded. I now realise that the Lord has a different plan for us — to perhaps spend a little more time reflecting on what Christmas really means, without all the usual distractions.

So who is that baby to us? How do we feel about that baby that’s ‘wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger’ grow up to be tortured just to be our saviour? Do we have a relationship with Jesus enough to feel true joy of his coming? Why do we wait a whole year to celebrate his coming when we can see the signs of his coming every day? He comes to us at every mass, every time we sit in the adoration room, every reconciliation; when we help a stranger in need, when we are healed of our wounds and brokenness, when we forgive that person who hurt us and when we give thanks for all the blessings that he has mysteriously been blessing us with. At this point, I want to specially thank God for this special day – for gifting his son to us, and for giving us a reason to come together as a family, especially to sing. It is precisely because we are not travelling this Advent that the family (my husband and our two teenage girls) is able to participate in our parish choir practices and to sing for the midnight and Christmas Day masses. I believe that this is his way of “training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-14)

Brothers and sisters, let us celebrate and welcome the birth of Jesus in our heart today and every day, not just with presents but with our kindness, compassion and patience.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)

Prayer:  Dear Father, my wish and prayer for this Christmas is for everyone who’s not yet known you to have a chance to encounter you and get to know you better and deeper.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for being who you are, for being that perfect role model so we can be better persons like you; for taking all our nonsense, for never showing anger and for being so good to us all the time, even for the times when we don’t deserve it.

24 December, Vigil Mass – Rejoice

24 December – Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord (Vigil Mass)

Jesus, Son of David

God prepared the people of Israel to receive his Son. May we too be ready to welcome him. 

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Isaiah 62:1-5

About Zion I will not be silent,
about Jerusalem I will not grow weary,
until her integrity shines out like the dawn
and her salvation flames like a torch.

The nations then will see your integrity,
all the kings your glory,
and you will be called by a new name,
one which the mouth of the Lord will confer.
You are to be a crown of splendour in the hand of the Lord,
a princely diadem in the hand of your God;

no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’,
nor your land ‘Abandoned’,
but you shall be called ‘My Delight’
and your land ‘The Wedded’;
for the Lord takes delight in you
and your land will have its wedding.

Like a young man marrying a virgin,
so will the one who built you wed you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
so will your God rejoice in you.

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Acts 13:16-17,22-25

When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia, he stood up in the synagogue, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:

‘Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors, and made our people great when they were living as foreigners in Egypt; then by divine power he led them out.

‘Then he 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.”’

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Matthew 1:1-25

A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place.
After the deportation to Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son 
and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.

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 Like a young man marrying a virgin, your rebuilder will wed you, and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so will your God rejoice in you.

A Blessed Christmas to one and all! May the hope, peace, joy and love of Christ ever fill your heart and your homes! May you always rejoice in the Lord as He is rejoicing in you!

The beginning of our salvation, just a time of glorious rejoicing. A celebration of this hope that how ‘forsaken’, ‘abandoned’, ‘alone’, ‘unaccepted’ we seem to be, it all will pass because God is rejoicing in you.

The ‘worries’, ‘anxieties’, ‘insecurities’, ‘stresses’ we seem to be filling our hearts with, God is transforming them to this everlasting peace, His peace. A peace that the world can’t give. A Saviour has been born to us, He is Christ the Lord and He rejoices when He sees you. Why do you need to worry when victory has been won by our God?

I don’t know how heaven is like, but this is like heaven on earth, just a touch of heaven. The immense glory and power and my body is too small to contain any of it. I want to cry for there is so much joy. A joy that is not about how pictures I’m taking this season, it’s not about how many outings or how busy or how entertaining my life is at the moment, or how I’m seemingly enjoying my life and my friends, but whether or not I can say that this is who I am and I know my Lord rejoices in me.

I don’t know about you but to me, this feels a lot like the love that I yearn for. That no matter what I chase or what I have from this world, nothing will be able to give me this love that only you can give Jesus. For in your love, you gave the love which is yourself, not a part of you but all of you to me when you came into this world, already knowing the journey you have to take.

You did all of this because you love me, like a young man marrying a virgin, and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so will you rejoice in me.

This Christmas, I’m putting Christ back into Christmas, Christ back into my heart, my family, my actions and my words, my thoughts. You are the reason for my faith, the reason I’m alive, the reason I live, the reason I can love. And it’s all cause you loved me first.

Happy Birthday Jesus! Thank you for being the greatest gift the world can give!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: (do say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary)

Thanksgiving: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.