Remember this, my dear brothers: be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to rouse your temper; God’s righteousness is never served by man’s anger; so do away with all the impurities and bad habits that are still left in you – accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves. To listen to the word and not obey is like looking at your own features in a mirror and then, after a quick look, going off and immediately forgetting what you looked like. But the man who looks steadily at the perfect law of freedom and makes that his habit – not listening and then forgetting, but actively putting it into practice – will be happy in all that he does.
Nobody must imagine that he is religious while he still goes on deceiving himself and not keeping control over his tongue; anyone who does this has the wrong idea of religion. Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.
Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida, and some people brought to him a blind man whom they begged him to touch. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Then putting spittle on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked, ‘Can you see anything?’ The man, who was beginning to see, replied, ‘I can see people; they look like trees to me, but they are walking about.’ Then he laid his hands on the man’s eyes again and he saw clearly; he was cured, and he could see everything plainly and distinctly. And Jesus sent him home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.’
“You must do what the Word tells you and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.”
A Blessed New Year to one and all.
This is my first reflection for OXYGEN for the year. As I was reflecting on today’s readings, it made me think about my journey with OXYGEN — from a place of passion, spirit and conviction, to many times, a place of struggle and maybe even burden to submit my reflections in the midst of my ‘busy’ life.
I realised that the journey in my reflections seems so long because in writing this, I always had to make that seeming detour back to Christ, who I guess I’ve been not prioritising, compared to the seemingly more ‘urgent’ things in my life. Despite reducing the number of reflections I write in a year, I chose not to give up because I knew how important it is not just to write, but also to reflect and connect with God through His Word. If I gave up on this, Christ would probably seem much further away and the effort I will need to ‘return’ would seem all that much greater.
I must admit that these reflections have helped me so much in the various situations and the most stressful periods of my life, indeed, how God can speak to me through His Word.
I hope, He will speak to you today and for the many days to come.
In today’s first reading, we read of how knowing and listening to the Word isn’t enough; but how we are called to live out the Word, through our lives and through action. We also see in the Gospel how Christ gave sight to the blind man.
Especially in the circumstances we are facing today, the coronavirus, we see how uncertainty and due to all sorts of information spreading with or without credibility, has blinded us to focus on protecting ourselves instead of others. We then see how this particular culture or response ends up spreading much faster than the virus itself, causing panic and instability amongst the public.
I’ve also become blind when my reflections became more of a duty versus a sharing of life and breaking of the Word. Both situations are similar because they both didn’t have the cure. The cure being Christ — not just to remove our blindness, but to see as how He sees, to live as how He lives and to love as how He loves.
Because in the darkest of situations and no matter how seemingly ‘far’ we are from Him, He is actually right there with us and we just have to allow Him into our lives once again. It is in that allowing that we can say we are living out His Word, for it is not I but Christ who lives in me. Amen.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for everyone who is infected, suffering, who has gone before us, we pray that we may not lose humanity and what it means to be human. We pray that we will learn how to trust, that leaders will look after their people, that we will create a culture that protects and provides and not one that competes and condemns. Dear Lord, we ask that your light may shine ever so brightly in our darkness, that we may see and realise our selfishness, to allow your Word to take place in our hearts and that we may proclaim it by our actions. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the many people who are working behind the scenes and doing whatever they can to protect and provide. Thank you for always reaching out to us in so many different ways. Thank you for always being there.