Monthly Archives: January 2020

1 February, Saturday – David – Shepherd, King, Sin

1 Feb 

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2 Samuel 12:1-7,10-17

The Lord sent Nathan the prophet to David. He came to him and said:

‘In the same town were two men,
one rich, the other poor.
The rich man had flocks and herds
in great abundance;
the poor man had nothing but a ewe lamb,
one only, a small one he had bought.
This he fed, and it grew up with him and his children,
eating his bread, drinking from his cup,
sleeping on his breast; it was like a daughter to him.
When there came a traveller to stay, the rich man
refused to take one of his own flock or herd
to provide for the wayfarer who had come to him.
Instead he took the poor man’s lamb
and prepared it for his guest.’

David’s anger flared up against the man. ‘As the Lord lives,’ he said to Nathan ‘the man who did this deserves to die! He must make fourfold restitution for the lamb, for doing such a thing and showing no compassion.’

Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man. So now the sword will never be far from your House, since you have shown contempt for me and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.”

‘Thus the Lord speaks, “I will stir up evil for you out of your own House. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. You worked in secret, I will work this in the face of all Israel and in the face of the sun.”’

David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord, for his part, forgives your sin; you are not to die. Yet because you have outraged the Lord by doing this, the child that is born to you is to die.’ Then Nathan went home.

The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David and it fell gravely ill. David pleaded with the Lord for the child; he kept a strict fast and went home and spent the night on the bare ground, covered with sacking. The officials of his household came and stood round him to get him to rise from the ground, but he refused, nor would he take food with them.

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Mark 4:35-41

With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’

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You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel

The story of David and Bathsheba makes for somewhat jarring reading. It’s hard not to feel betrayed. This isn’t the David that we love, slayer of Goliath, humble shepherd boy from the countryside. This is David, the corrupt conqueror. David’s slippery slope of sin starts off innocently enough. First, he decides to slack off going to battle, sending Joab in his place instead – “…in the spring of that year, when kings usually set out to fight, David send out Joab, his officers and all the Israelite troops” (2 Samuel 11:1). With all this free time on his hands, David becomes open to distraction and that’s when he meets the beautiful Bathsheba. He enquires about her, and finds out that she is a married woman, a huge red flag! Maybe it’s because she is ‘forbidden fruit’ that David becomes even more intrigued and sends for her. So what started as a short break from battle, quickly spirals into a succession of sins – infidelity, manipulation and treachery, culminating in David’s execution of Uriah so he can have Bathsheba for himself. David even justifies this as part and parcel of war, showing us how far he has fallen away from God – “… do not let this thing disturb you, for the sword devours one this time and another at another time” (2 Samuel 11:25).

The story of David and Bathsheba is difficult because the David we know is a man after God’s own heart. The David we know stands victorious on a pedestal, he is not allowed to fail. But that’s the thing! It is precisely because he is fallible that he is the model of all of us. The story of David and Bathsheba is put here to illustrate our human frailty, how we become susceptible when we put ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. It might be a simple case of lingering too long with someone we know we shouldn’t be with or making excuses to be someplace hoping we’ll meet that someone we know is trouble. It might be the temptation of being with a colleague when we’re away on a business trip. Like David, we think, ‘Are we really hurting anyone if no one finds out?’ We do our deeds in secret, then lie to cover up our trails. It almost seems like the more we have to lose, the greater is our temptation to transgress.

David might have shattered our view of him as the model citizen, but he is most definitely the model sinner. When confronted by Nathan, he confesses and immediately entreats God for forgiveness. Unlike Saul, who tries to rationalize his actions to Samuel (1 Samuel 13:5-14), David confesses and pleads to God not to cast him out of His presence, or take the Holy Spirit from him (Psalm 51:13). And though God’s answer to David’s prayer to save his child is a ‘No’, David considers the matter closed and moves on. David’s sinner doesn’t let the burden of unanswered prayers hold him back from continuing God’s work.

Sin separates us from the grace of God. When we cover up our sins to preserve ourselves, we take ourselves even further from His grace. There is no moving on from here until we have confessed, bring our deeds into His light and let conscience pierce our hearts into contrition. “O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart you will not despise” (Psalm 51:19). Like David, it is only then that we can move on. To those of us who are carrying around the heaviness of unresolved sins, let’s take a moment this weekend to entreat God to wash us clean once more, so that we may move on from this place of purgatory. We have nothing to lose but our pride, but all our peace to regain.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

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Prayer: We pray for all those who have issues unresolved in their hearts. We pray they find the honesty to come confess and in the process, set themselves free.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Word that serves as our moral compass in times of temptation.

31 January, Friday – Chaos Theory

31 Jan – Memorial of Saint John Bosco

Son of Venerable Margaret Bosco. John’s father died when the boy was two years old; and as soon as he was old enough to do odd jobs, John did so to helps support his family. Bosco would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals, practice the tricks that he saw magicians perform, and then put on one-boy shows. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the homily he had heard earlier that day in church.

He worked as a tailor, baker, shoemaker, and carpenter while attending college and seminary. Ordained in 1841. A teacher, he worked constantly with young people, finding places where they could meet, play and pray, teaching catechism to orphans and apprentices. Chaplain in a hospice for girls. Wrote short treatises aimed at explaining the faith to children, and then taught children how to print them. Friend of Saint Joseph Cafasso, whose biography he wrote, and confessor to Blessed Joseph Allamano. Founded the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859, priests who work with and educate boys, under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Chistians, and Saint Francis de Sales. Founded the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians in 1872, and Union of Cooperator Salesians in 1875.

– The Patron Saint Index

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2 Samuel 11:1-4,5-10,13-17

At the turn of the year, the time when kings go campaigning, David sent Joab and with him his own guards and the whole of Israel. They massacred the Ammonites and laid siege to Rabbah. David, however, remained in Jerusalem.

It happened towards evening when David had risen from his couch and was strolling on the palace roof, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David made inquiries about this.woman and was told, ‘Why, that is Bathsheba, Eliam’s daughter, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers and had her brought. She came to him, and he slept with her. She then went home again. The woman conceived and sent word to David; ‘I am with child.’

Then David sent Joab a message, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite’, whereupon Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came into his presence, David asked after Joab and the army and how the war was going. David then said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and enjoy yourself. Uriah left the palace, and was followed by a present from the king’s table. Uriah however slept by the palace door with his master’s bodyguard and did not go down to his house.

This was reported to David; ‘Uriah’ they said ‘did not go down to his house.’ The next day David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk. In the evening Uriah went out and lay on his couch with his master’s bodyguard, but he did not go down to his house.

Next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by Uriah. In the letter he wrote, ‘Station Uriah in the thick of the fight and then fall back behind him so that he may be struck down and die.’ Joab, then besieging the town, posted Uriah in a place where he knew there were fierce fighters. The men of the town sallied out and engaged Joab; the army suffered casualties, including some of David’s bodyguard; and Uriah the Hittite was killed too.

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Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

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It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade

In 2014, I saw firsthand, the tremendous power of the Holy Spirit as a force for good. Atlanta has been hit by one of the worst snowstorms on record. Roads are gridlocked, with freeways being reduced to parking lots. Schools have been closed with some children trapped, unable to return home. A state of emergency has been declared across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina. There are stories all across the news of how people have spent the night in motionless cars and buses, shivering as Snowstorm Leon’s arctic blast blankets the South.

They say chaos brings out the worst in us and there are all sorts of examples of this, including today’s first reading from 2 Samuel. But I’d like to think that chaos also brings out the very best in us. Amidst the chaos, Michelle Sollicito, a woman in Marietta, Georgia reached out through Facebook to enable her friends to find help and shelter from the cold.

Sollicito’s Facebook page, ‘SnowedOutAtlanta, https://www.facebook.com/groups/397839673695382/ offered maps and chats so people who were stranded could connect with random strangers close to them and wait out the cold. Strangers started liking her page and latched on, offering up traffic updates play by play, so other people in the area could stay updated. Sollicito said she started the page as a way to help a friend’s husband link up to a friend of hers who happened to be near where his car had stalled. After that, the page just grew and grew. So far, ‘SnowedOutAtlanta’ has already clocked 49,245 followers and it’s still growing.

Through “SnowedOutAtlanta”, an elderly woman with cancer was able to receive help, a pregnant mother and her child found shelter, a man with a heart condition was able to get to the hospital and countless others who would otherwise have been left out in the cold have been connected with homes where they have found food and a roof over their heads. All it took was a single act of kindness to spark this wave of goodwill. If there is any doubt that there is good in the world, there’s no better proof than this.

Last Sunday, we saw Jesus proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt 4:17) and we wondered, what if the kingdom of heaven is already here, in the form of people reaching out in love and generosity. Michelle Sollicito sowed a small seed of kindness and it grew into a mighty Facebook tree, offering hope to the lost, the cold and the hungry. Her page has become a community of people whose only agenda is to offer whatever assistance they can. We often think the kindness we can do is so small it isn’t likely to make a difference. But it makes a difference if even one person is touched by it. Stories like these renew our faith in the community of believers. Stories like these remind us of the power of purpose. Stories like these affirm that “…if on earth two of you are united in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered in my Name, I am there among them” (Matt 18:19-20). Let us give thanks today for the Michelle Solicittos of this world and the community of believers to which we belong. Chaos really can bring out the best in us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

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Prayer: We pray for all those who have been hit by Snowstorm Leon. We pray they find shelter, food, water, warmth and love as they tough out the cold.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the all those who have so generously offered their energy and their time to the people of the South.

30 January, Thursday – The Parable of the Lamp

30 Jan 

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2 Samuel 7:18-19,24-29

After Nathan had spoken to him, King David went in and, seated before the Lord, said: ‘Who am I, O Lord, and what is my House, that you have led me as far as this? Yet in your sight, O Lord, this is still not far enough, and you make your promises extend to the House of your servant for a far-distant future. You have constituted your people Israel to be your own people for ever; and you, Lord, have become their God.

‘Now, O Lord, always keep the promise you have made your servant and his House, and do as you have said. Your name will be exalted for ever and men will say, “The Lord of Hosts is God over Israel.” The House of your servant David will be made secure in your presence, since you yourself, Lord of Hosts, God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, “I will build you a House”; hence your servant has ventured to offer this prayer to you. Yes, Lord, you are God indeed, your words are true and you have made this fair promise to your servant. Be pleased, then, to bless the House of your servant, that it may continue for ever in your presence; for you, Lord, have spoken; and with your blessing the House of your servant will be for ever blessed.’

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Mark 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Would you bring in a lamp to put it under a tub or under the bed? Surely you will put it on the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’

He also said to them, ‘Take notice of what you are hearing. The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given – and more besides; for the man who has will be given more; from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’

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Take notice of what you are hearing. The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given

It’s very easy to become complacent when reading the parables of Jesus. We look at something like today’s ‘Parable of the Lamp’ and think, ‘Yeah, I got this’, and miss the depth of the Lord’s message. Just like reading a book in our twenties is different than reading the same book when we’re in our thirties and our forties, so too is it with the Scriptures. The verses take on a deeper meaning as we grow older and our relationship with Him deepens. In our twenties, our whole life stretches with promise before us. We feel almost immortal, like we have a long time to make good on ‘yielding fruit’. In our thirties, the urgency to kick-start our effort at being a ‘productive Christian’ begins to niggle at us; we become more results driven. By the time our forties rolls around, we’re starting to feel the sting of the Lord’s challenge to “…pay attention to what you hear. In the measure you give, so shall you receive…” We begin to wonder where all our time went, and whether we have done enough. We begin to wonder at what kind of Christian we have become. Is there still time to change? To repent and make amends?

“Pay attention to what you hear”, said the Lord. Jesus himself never expected us to fully understand the parables, hence the use of simple stories to drive home simple spiritual truths. Many Christians never grasp the real meaning of the words of Jesus. “The more they see, they don’t perceive; the more they hear, they don’t understand” (Mark 4:12). They come to the gospels with preconceived notions, then find the Scripture verses to justify their view of things. The Jewish teachers of Jesus’ time were like that, more interested in proving a point than seeking the Lord’ vision of the world. And I’m sure we each know someone who is the self-professed ‘know it all’ in our church group. These people confuse length of service and scripture knowledge with devotion. Pedigree does not mean proximity to God. If we simply preach the gospel, but don’t live it, even what we have will be taken from us.

In my twenties, the Parable of the Lamp was about being brave enough to proclaim my faith, to say to the world, ‘I believe, I have been baptized, I am a Christian!’ I was born into a Buddhist family, so my conversion was a very special event for me. In my thirties, the Parable of the Lamp became about how I was living as a Christian. I was then aggressively chasing after a career and all those distractions meant I was not really doing my best to live my faith. As I approach my forties, ‘time’ has suddenly become a very expensive commodity, and I’m beginning to wonder about the quality of my witness. If I was asked to give a reckoning of it, would I be able to do so satisfactorily? Is there still time to change, to make amends? I’m sure that when I start to close in on my fifties, the conversation would again be different. Time would no longer be a resource that I would have. A good chunk of my life would have passed me by. What will I ask myself then?

“Pay attention to how you behave. Do not live as the unwise do, but as responsible persons. Try to make good use of the present time… do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5: 15-17).

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

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Prayer: We pray for the self-awareness to repent and return to the Lord, while we still have time.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Lord’s mercies, they are everlasting, they never come to an end.

29 January, Wednesday – On Rocky Ground

29 Jan 

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2 Samuel 7:4-17

The word of the Lord came to Nathan:

‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I have never stayed in a house from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today, but have always led a wanderer’s life in a tent. In all my journeying with the whole people of Israel, did I say to any one of the judges of Israel, whom I had appointed as shepherds of Israel my people: Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” This is what you must say to my servant David, “the Lord of Hosts says this: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.) I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Yet I will not withdraw my favour from him, as I withdrew it from your predecessor. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’

Nathan related all these words to David and this whole revelation.

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Mark 4:1-20

Jesus began to teach by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there. The people were all along the shore, at the water’s edge. He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them, ‘Listen!, Imagine a sower going out to sow. Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and sprang up straightaway, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away. Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop. And some seeds fell into rich soil and, growing tall and strong, produced crop; and yielded thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!’

When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God is given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables, so that they may see and see again, but not perceive; may hear and hear again, but not understand; otherwise they might be converted and be forgiven.’

He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan comes and carries away the word that was sown in them. Similarly, those who receive the seed on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy. But they have no root in them, they do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, they fall away at once. Then there are others who receive the seed in thorns. These have heard the word, but the worries of this world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing. And there are those who have received the seed in rich soil: they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’

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some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and sprang up straightaway, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun cane up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away

In our backyard is a raggedy little lemon tree. I planted it when I first arrived here in California, as a way of marking a new beginning. My little lemon tree thrived for a while and I patted myself on the back when it bore its first fruit. Good results are such a motivator! I diligently cleared the spiders away, pruned my tree and watered it. And then, my botanist neighbor informed me that the soil conditions and the layout of our backyard were not ideal for growing citrus, and that she was surprised my lemon tree had thrived at all. Though I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, my lemon tree started to falter right after that. The ground grew harder. The weather turned colder. Even sunshine became erratic. And then, the Christmas holidays descended and with family in town, I became too distracted to tend it. So the little lemon tree that had started out with so much promise, deteriorated into an unpruned mess of leaves and thorns. Even the spiders returned, bringing new troops afresh!

Looking back, I went into it too hastily, without having done all of the homework, and so floundered at the first piece of negative feedback I received. It was nothing that couldn’t have been fixed with a little research and common sense, but I got discouraged and couldn’t stick with it. My little lemon tree’s symbolism isn’t lost on me. Commitment, or the lack thereof, has always been my biggest stumbling block. I am easily shaken, especially in the face of criticism or setbacks. Like the seed that falls on rocky ground, my roots don’t seem to run very deep. It’s worrying because lately, I’ve been struggling with my faith. Not only does it seem like I have stopped growing in Him, there are days where I’m convinced I’m moving backwards. If this related to any other matter, I would probably have stopped trying by now. But this is my faith we’re talking about!

I’ve seen this coming for some time now. It’s become increasingly difficult to stay motivated about the work I do in His ministry. I find that I’m easily irritated and it takes all my willpower to hold my tongue when things annoy me. I keep telling myself that this is a phase that everyone goes through and it will pass, but it hasn’t passed. It’s persisted, and even gotten worse. Like the seed that has fallen on rocky ground, I feel the Word has stalled, or even gone backwards with me. Inspiration, which used to run like a spring of water, now seems to have dried up. There are days when I feel like barren soil.

I don’t know if this will get better anytime soon. Everything in His time, Scripture says. But why would He want me to wallow in this purgatory I’m in? I’ve trawled His Word and the sermons on the Web to find a way out of this spiritual rut, with mixed results. I feel God is waiting for me to ‘get it’, but I really don’t know if I am going to be able to figure it out or what it is I am supposed to ‘get’. I just know that every day, I wake up with the sinking feeling Luke must have had when he penned the lines, “Now take care, how well you listen, for whoever produces will be given more, but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them” (Luke 8:18). Please pray for me.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

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Prayer: I pray that I will be able to break out of this period of dryness that I’m in. I pray that He will show me the way back to Him because right now, I feel so lost.

Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the wealth of sermons and reflections on the internet. I give thanks for all the people who have given their time and energy so generously, to make this amazing resource available to people like me.

28 January, Tuesday – Obedience to God

28 January – Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Doctor

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was the son of the Count of Aquino. He was born in the family castle in Lombardy near Naples, Italy. He was educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino, and at the University of Naples. He secretly joined the mendicant Dominican friars in 1244. His family kidnapped and imprisoned him for a year to keep him out of sight and deprogram him, but they failed to sway him,and he rejoined his order in 1245.

He studied in Paris, France, from 1245-1248 under St. Albert the Great, then accompanied Albertus to Cologne, Germany. He was ordained in 1250, then returned to Paris to teach. He taught theology at the University of Paris. He wrote defenses of the mendicant orders, commentaries on Aristotle and Lombard’s Sentences, and some bible-related works, usually by dictating to secretaries. He won his doctorate, and taught at several Italian cities. He was recalled by the king and the University of Paris in 1269, then recalled to Naples in 1272 where he was appointed regent of studies while working on the Summa Theologica.

On 6 December 1273, he experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it and his other writing were so much straw in the wind compared to the reality of the divine glory. He died four months later while en route to the Council of Lyons, overweight and with his health broken by overwork.

His works have been seminal to the thinking of the Church ever since. They systematized her great thoughts and teaching, and combined Greek wisdom and scholarship methods with the truth of Christianity. Pope Leo VIII commanded that his teachings be studied by all theology students. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1567.

-Patron Saint Index

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2 Samuel 6:12-15,17-19

David went and brought the ark of God up from Obed-edom’s house to the Citadel of David with great rejoicing. When the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fat sheep. And David danced whirling round before the Lord with all his might, wearing a linen loincloth round him. Thus David and all the House of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with acclaim and the sound of the horn. They brought the ark of the Lord in and put it in position inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered holocausts before the Lord, and communion sacrifices. And when David had finished offering holocausts and communion sacrifices, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts. He then distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israelites, men and women, a roll of bread to each, a portion of dates, and a raisin cake. Then they all went away, each to his own house.

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Mark 3:31-35

The mother and brothers of Jesus arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

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Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

Discerning the will of God is a very difficult task to do. I do not think it is because God is not calling but rather I am not listening. I believe it is because I am too distracted by the daily noise of the world which prevents me from discovering what God’s plan is for me. The use of mobile phones, the daily struggles at home and at work and also the challenges in trying to make ends meet means there is often very little time for God. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of today that it is in the doing of the will of God that we are considered his sibling.

Why is it difficult for us to listen to the will of God? I have found that it is because it requires me to continue in a route which is not what I desire for myself. It is something which tugs me in the opposite direction and which forces me to renounce the ways of the world. It certainly is difficult to give up my own challenges but with daily prayer, it helps me to be focused on the crucified Christ. It is in the emptying of myself where I discover what it means to listen to God’s word.

As we continue with our journey in life, we will always face different challenges. What we can choose to do is to allow God to work within us to enable us to accept our own failings and trust in Him to use these weaknesses within us to glorify his name.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I surrender my will to you. Let me trust in you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have given up their possessions in life for God’s service.

27 January, Monday – Source of Power

27 January 2020

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2 Samuel 5:1-7,10

All the tribes of Israel then came to David at Hebron. ‘Look’ they said ‘we are your own flesh and blood. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel in all their exploits; and the Lord said to you, “You are the man who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you shall be the leader of Israel.”’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact with them at Hebron in the presence of the Lord, and they anointed David king of Israel.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years. He reigned in Hebron over Judah for seven years and six months; then he reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

David and his men marched on Jerusalem against the Jebusites living there. These said to David, ‘You will not get in here. The blind and the lame will hold you off.’ (That is to say: David will never get in here.) But David captured the fortress of Zion, that is, the Citadel of David.

David grew greater and greater, and the Lord, the God of Hosts, was with him.

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Mark 3:22-30

The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.

  ‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’

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David grew greater and greater, and the Lord, the God of Hosts, was with him

Today’s readings are a thought provoking one because it points out where the source of power comes from as a form of legitimacy. King David obtained power because the people approached him to be king of both the Northern and Southern kingdom. Indeed, most of us are familiar with this type of power which is the general public selecting a group of people to enact decisions on their behalf.

However, the nature of power is such that it tends to corrupt the person holding it. I guess the idea of being able to lord over others does change others as the person can now be the master of the fate of others. This is where Jesus reminds us that the power of His ministry comes from God. It does not come from the legitimacy of men but from a divine source. Sometimes I see some question the decisions that office holders in church make and this does trouble me because it seems that there is a sense that there is a comparison of the positions.

The ways of the world have sometimes subtly entered the church in terms of organisation and structure. As we begin a new week, I ask that we pray and reflect upon the role which Jesus has called us to do and how can we do it in a manner which serves the people around us and not seek to advance our own interests.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray for the strength to let you work through me.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for the love you have shown me. 

26 January, Sunday – Unconditional Acceptance

26 January 2020

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Isaiah 8:23-9:3

In days past the Lord humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in days to come he will confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of Jordan, province of the nations.

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 bar across his shoulders,
the rod of his oppressor –
these you break as on the day of Midian.

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1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe’s people have been telling me, my dear brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. What I mean are all these slogans that you have, like: ‘I am for Paul’, ‘I am for Apollos’, ‘I am for Cephas’, ‘I am for Christ.’ Has Christ been parcelled out? Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed.

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Matthew 4:12-23

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.

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‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’

I once had a conversation with somebody regarding the role of laypeople in evangelisation and I discovered that the person came to know of the faith because of the encounter which she had with somebody who shared her faith in a gentle way over lunch. The readings of today remind me of this episode because it reminds me of the need for each one of us to evangelise and reach out to the people around us with patience.

Evangelisation is not going to public areas and shouting that Jesus loves you. That is one possible method but I do feel that there could be other ways in which the faith could reach out to the people. It is in the daily interaction we have with others – the kind word or sometimes the  unplanned meeting with somebody which allows us to discover that so much has happened in their lives. Evangelisation usually happens in our daily rhythm of life and we need to be ready for it. We can do so by preparing ourselves with scriptures and also by frequenting the Sacraments.

Sometimes we need to realise that the faith is a combination of us frequenting the Sacraments and interaction with others to share with them the joy we have discovered in our faith. Knowledge of Jesus does not stay in the church but goes outside of the Church. The joy of knowing the Gospel should be so overpowering that we want to go outside to the rest of the world and share with them this joy. As we begin another week, let us find an opportunity to share this faith with the next person we meet. I believe that God will guide the conversation and it may lead to a direction which we may never imagine.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to share with others the faith which you have given us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all catechists.

25 January, Saturday – Lead Kindly Light

Dear readers, 

Today we are pleased to welcome a new writer to the Oxygen team – Christian Eber. We thank him for stepping forward and pray that this writing journey will be a grace-filled one for him.

Christian was baptised shortly after birth and grew up in the East district of Singapore. After confirmation, he got lost in the frivolous pursuit of pleasure but after his grandfather passed away, he read his biography — Camp Four Kanburi on how a former WW2 POW escaped death by loving and forgiving. He experienced an epiphany and went back to complete his undergraduate studies.

After spending some years in sales attaining a significant milestone, he realised that true joy lies neither in achievement of titles nor in possession of wealth, but a more intimate relationship with the creator and being authentic in all things.

This prompted his career switch into a social enterprise, which serves the youth at risk and tackles global warming. The tenacity of his beneficiaries encourages him to search out the best in people to find the untapped potential in each individual. He now always tries to keeps a balanced approach to pursuing financial goals with spiritual outcomes.

He is thankful for his fiancée Stephanie, who introduced Oxygen to him and finds that the daily articles and reflections help him dive deeper in His Word, hoping to become a wellspring of joy.

25 Jan – Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

St. Paul (3-65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus to arrest another group of them, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting Christians, he was persecuting Christ. The experience had a profound spiritual effect on him, causing his conversion to Christianity. He was baptised, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling and preaching. He died a martyr for his faith.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 22:3-16

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

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

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

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Mark 16:15-18

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them:

  ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

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It is time you were baptised and had your sins washed away while invoking his name

Today’s readings are a retelling of the conversion of Saul and how the newly baptised Paul goes on to preach in Damascus with the Christians, instead of bring them to the Jerusalem prisons as he was commissioned by the religious leader.

The mercy of God upon Saul and the use of men and women to serve are, for me, one of the main reasons for the great expansion of the church today as St John Chrysostom shared:

“Would you even like to hear something strange from the point of view of our behavior but true from the point of view of our religion? Listen! Whereas God shows himself demanding with regard to the just, for the sinner he has only kindness and gentleness. What strictness towards the just! What indulgence towards the sinner! Such is the novelty, the reversal God’s behaviour presents to us… And this is the reason why: to terrify the sinner, and especially the obstinate sinner, would be to deprive him of all confidence, throw him into despair. To flatter the just would be to soften the strength of his virtue, make him slacken his zeal. God is infinitely good! Fear of him is the safety of the just; his goodness brings back the sinner.”

During my national service, I was knocked down by a van while riding a motorbike and almost got rolled over by a bus. The accident gave me much time to reflect in hospital about my irreverent behaviour and six months wearing a cast, due to my fractured right wrist, taught me about being merciful and kind to others, something I had thrown out the window after confirmation. I had developed a false image of God and allowed material possessions and vain ambition to take control of my life. After the fall, came repentance, and I felt the pain but, like Paul, received mercy and love from my family and made new friends. However, several years later, I forgot about his mercy and like the Israelites in the desert, started another bout of prideful and selfish behaviour. This led to another fall, this time off a shipping container on a stormy night while working as a stevedore, fracturing my left wrist and leaving in a tremendous amount of pain, but enough to get me back to school to complete my undergraduate studies.

The falls in my life have helped me realise how much I needed to stay grounded and hold on to faith with much humility. I love how God’s timing is right in every situation and to always trust in His mercy and rely on the wisdom to do the right thing in any given situation.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Christian Eber)

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, fill us with an indomitable spirit of joy that no earthly trial can subdue. Holy Spirit, help me to live a life of praise and thanksgiving for your glory.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for providing the light and mercy to convert even the vilest of sinners to become a great witnesses of your eternal joy, which is in store for all who call upon your name.

24 January, Friday – What would you write in a blank cheque?

24 Jan – Memorial for St. Francis de Sales, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) was born in a castle to a well-placed family. His parents intended him to become a lawyer, enter politics, and carry on the family line and power. He studied at La Roche, Annecy, Clermont College in Paris, and law at the University of Padua. He became a Doctor of Law, returned home, and found a position as Senate advocate.

It was at this point that he received a message telling him to “Leave all and follow Me”. He took this as a call to the priesthood, a move his family fiercely opposed. However, he pursued a devoted prayer life, and his gentle ways won over the family.

He became a priest, and a provost in the diocese of Geneva, Switzerland, a stronghold of Calvinists. He was a preacher, writer and spiritual director in the distrcit of Chablais. His simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to the Roman Church.

He was ordained Bishop of Geneva at the age of 35. He travelled and evangelized throughout the Duchy of Savoy, working with children whenever he could. He was a friend of St. Vincent de Paul. He turned down a wealthy French bishopric. He helped found the Order of the Visitation with St. Jeanne de Chantal. He was a prolific correspondent. He was declared a Doctor of the Church.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Samuel 24:3-21

Saul took three thousand men chosen from the whole of Israel and went in search of David and his men east of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds along the route where there was a cave, and went in to cover his feet. Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave; David’s men said to him, Today is the day of which the Lord said to you, “I will deliver your enemy into your power, do what you like with him.”’ David stood up and, unobserved, cut off the border of Saul’s cloak. Afterwards David reproached himself for having cut off the border of Saul’s cloak. He said to his men, ‘The Lord preserve me from doing such a thing to my lord and raising my hand against him, for he is the anointed of the Lord.’ David gave his men strict instructions, forbidding them to attack Saul.

Saul then left the cave and went on his way. After this, David too left the cave and called after Saul, ‘My lord king!’ Saul looked behind him and David bowed to the ground and did homage. Then David said to Saul, ‘Why do you listen to the men who say to you, “David means to harm you”? Why, your own eyes have seen today how the Lord put you in my power in the cave and how I refused to kill you, but spared you. “I will not raise my hand against my lord,” I said “for he is the anointed of the Lord.” O my father, see, look at the border of your cloak in my hand. Since I cut off the border of your cloak, yet did not kill you, you must acknowledge frankly that there is neither malice nor treason in my mind. I have not offended against you, yet you hunt me down to take my life. May the Lord be judge between me and you, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be laid on you. (As the old proverb says: Wickedness goes out from the wicked, and my hand will not be laid on you.) On whose trail has the king of Israel set out? On whose trail are you in hot pursuit? On the trail of a dead dog! On the trail of a single flea! May the Lord be the judge and decide between me and you; may he take up my cause and defend it and give judgement for me, freeing me from your power.’

When David had finished saying these words to Saul, Saul said, ‘Is that your voice, my son David?’ And Saul wept aloud. ‘You are a more upright man than I,’ he said to David ‘for you have repaid me with good while I have repaid you with evil. Today you have crowned your goodness towards me since the Lord had put me in your power yet you did not kill me. When a man comes on his enemy, does he let him go unmolested? May the Lord reward you for the goodness you have shown me today. Now I know you will indeed reign and that the sovereignty in Israel will be secure in your hands.’

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Mark 3:13-19

Jesus went up into the hills and summoned those he wanted. So they came to him and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to preach, with power to cast out devils. And so he appointed the Twelve: Simon to whom he gave the name Peter, James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom he gave the name Boanerges or ‘Sons of Thunder’; then Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the man who was to betray him.

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I will deliver your enemy into your power, do what you like with him.

Whenever the topic of discernment pops up, the most common question I would hear is ‘How would you know what God wants you to do?’ For me, this is the agonizing part of discernment – to find out exactly what God wanted me to do. It used to make me feel very uneasy and agitated, so I read many books on discernment and attended many talks on discernment.

What I learned is that discernment is needed when you are presented with a choice involving morally good options. If something is morally bad, it’s clear that we are not supposed to do it. If it’s a choice between a morally neutral or a morally good option, then we should ask God to give us the courage to choose the morally good option.

Well, what if it’s a choice between two morally neutral options, or two morally good options? What do we do? That’s why we need discernment. We need to pray for wisdom to choose the best. Remember Solomon? God basically gave him a blank cheque so he could write what he would like to wish for. Obviously, he should not have chosen bad options but you see, riches are not bad if they are used for the welfare of his kingdom. Good health for the king is not bad because he could rule longer and provide security for his country. Solomon made a wise choice and chose wisdom. The Bible made it look like an easy choice but I would like to think that he prayed over his choice for some time.

In today’s reading, I think David was given a similar situation. I would like to think that killing Saul would not have been an act of murder but an act of self-defense. And to defend ourselves is not wrong. So in a way, it sounded to me like God had given David a blank cheque.

I know that God will give us many blank cheques in our lives. I understand how this could sometimes drive faithful Catholics crazy — we would rather have a to-do list than a blank cheque. Whenever God puts a blank cheque in front of me, I would have, after praying for wisdom and courage and as part of my discernment, tell him a disclaimer — I would do what my heart feels is right, trusting that he will tell me if there is a better option. And if God wanted me to make a u-turn, I would gladly do it because it is better to make a u-turn so I could do the better option than to stay in the second-best road. And with that, I proceed to write my choice in the blank cheque.

Did God just give you a blank cheque? I hope you don’t agonize over it. Just pray over it faithfully and trust God with your choice. He will definitely tell you when you have to make a u-turn.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Dear Lord, why do you make choices so ‘complicated’? It would have been easier if you just told me how to do things, step-by-step. I trust that in your wisdom and love, you know that it’s not the best for me, so I’ll trust you more and take a step. I know you’ll lead me — either forward or back.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to live my life to the fullest by giving me options. And I thank you greatly for the wisdom and guidance you give me, and for my Guardian Angel who always guides me as well.

23 January, Thursday – Are You in the Crowd?

23 January

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1 Samuel 18:6-9, 19:1-7

On their way back, as David was returning after killing the Philistine, the women came out to meet King Saul from all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing to the sound of tambourine and lyre and cries of joy; and as they danced the women sang:

‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.’

Saul was very angry; the incident was not to his liking. ‘They have given David the tens of thousands,’ he said ‘but me only the thousands; he has all but the kingship now.’ And Saul turned a jealous eye on David from that day forward.

Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants of his intention to kill David. Now Jonathan, Saul’s son, held David in great affection; and so Jonathan warned David; ‘My father Saul is looking for a way to kill you,’ he said ‘so be on your guard tomorrow morning; hide away in some secret place. Then I will go out and keep my father company in the fields where you are hiding, and will talk to my father about you; I will find out what the situation is and let you know.’

So Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father; he said, ‘Let not the king sin against his servant David, for he has not sinned against you, and what he has done has been greatly to your advantage. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great victory for all Israel. You saw it yourself and rejoiced; why then sin against innocent blood in killing David without cause?’ Saul was impressed by Jonathan’s words and took an oath, ‘As the Lord lives, I will not kill him.’ Jonathan called David and told him all these things. Then Jonathan brought him to Saul, and David attended on him as before.

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Mark 3:7-12

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

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Great crowds from Galilee followed him.

One of the things I lookout for when ‘people watching’ during lunch is when they make the Sign of the Cross. I get so excited whenever I see someone signing himself in prayer before and after the meal. It’s an affirmation for me that I’m not the sole Catholic in the lunchtime crowd.

While I was finishing my lunch one time, a gentleman asked if the space opposite me was free. Before he began his meal, made the Sign of the Cross. That quickly became a conversation starter and we asked each other which Church we attended and a few other things about our Catholic Faith. For me, it wasn’t just finding another Catholic in the crowd; it was about finding someone who is in the crowd of Jesus’ followers. It was finding someone who was comfortable doing Catholic things that would let the world know that he was a Catholic.

The world can be a cruel place when it comes to Christians. We hear of Christians being persecuted in other parts of the world for their faith but what are usually highlighted are persecutions that lead to martyrdom, or to the refugee centers. We also occasionally hear of people being sued for not selling a cake to celebrate same-sex unions. These situations sometimes make us forget that there are little persecutions that happen, too, and they are in our lives. One of those things that used to make me feel persecuted were the stares of people whenever I made the Sign of the Cross. I’m sure they didn’t mean any harm, but it made me feel like I was doing something different, and different is not always seen as good, even if it is tolerated. So sometimes, these persecutions prevent us from doing things that will show we aren’t in the usual crowd, but that we are in the crowd that follows Jesus.

To find another person in Jesus’ crowd in the middle of the crowd gives me strength and encouragement. It is a clear message to me that I am not alone. My daily activities can be so stressful sometimes that finding another Catholic in the crowd reminds me of God’s presence. It’s reassuring.

Let us not think that our practicing of small gestures of faith is inconsequential to others. Our reverent bows when we enter the Church, our genuflecting that is not rushed, our obvious Sign of the Cross, or the short time we take to pray before we start our work are all being noticed. These loving actions, while small, can be strong tesminonies and witnessing to God which He can use to inspire others and move their hearts.

Some of us feel that we do not know how to witness to God. We forget that God is hugely present in the small things that we do, and these things tell people which crowd we belong to. Let us be mindful how our small actions can be great testimonies.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us show our faithfulness and love for you in our little ways. Help us fill the little things we do with great love and reverence so that others may know that they are not alone.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, that you made it easy for me to become a witness to you. Thank you for the people who I see gladly do these little things as they remind me of your presence.