Monthly Archives: April 2020

5 April, Sunday – When God opens our ears, we cannot resist or turn away

5 April 2020

Brothers and sisters, we are blessed to welcome to the Oxygen family Julius Otusorochukwu Dike, who was born and baptised Christian and Catholic from the eastern block of Nigeria. After  receiving the Sacrament of confirmation, he attended a Catholic post-primary school, Bishop Shanahan College, in Orlu in present day Imo State, Nigeria. This background introduced and imbibed him with the Church’s teachings and practices early in life — a development that has supported and managed his overall outlook as a Christian.

Educated and trained as an engineer and business manager at two Nigerian universities — University of Ibadan, in Mechanical Engineering (1982) and Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, in Business Administration (1999) — he served in the country‘s civil service for 30 years before venturing into social service support for the vulnerable. He is a devout member of the Catholic Church Order of the Knights of St. John International, through which he has continued to serve the Church, and is currently serving in the pastoral team of Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, Sokoto, in the Diocese of Sokoto, Nigeria.

He is a motivational writer and, in 2006 published a book titled: “Terms Catholics Use Inside The Church”, a book which helps local parishioners understand the Church better.

His interest in OXYGEN came in 2015 through online search for knowledge on Catholic websites. Since then, he has been a dedicated reader of OXYGEN articles and reflections; these materials have continued to stimulate and enliven his life and the lives of many Christians sharing them.

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Isaiah 50:4-7

The Lord has given me
a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.

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Philippians 2:6-11

His state was divine,
yet Christ Jesus did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

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Matthew 26:14-27:66

N. One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,
O. What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?
N. They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say,
C. Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?
N. He replied:
? Go to so-and-so in the city and say to him, ‘The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.’
N. The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said:
? I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.
N. They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn,
C. Not I, Lord, surely?
N. He answered,
? Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!
N. Judas, who was to betray him, asked in his turn,
O. Not I, Rabbi, surely?
N. Jesus answered:
? They are your own words.
N. Now as they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples and said:
? Take it and eat; this is my body.
N. Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, saying:
? Drink, all of you, from this, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father.
N. After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them,
? You will all lose faith in me this night, for the scripture says: I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered, but after my resurrection I shall go before you to Galilee.
N. At this, Peter said,
O. Though all lose faith in you, I will never lose faith.
N. Jesus answered him,
? I tell you solemnly, this very night, before the cock crows, you will have disowned me three times.
N. Peter said to him,
O. Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.
N. And all the disciples said the same.
Then Jesus came with them to a small estate called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples,
? Stay here while I go over there to pray.
N. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And sadness came over him, and great distress. Then he said to them,
? My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and keep awake with me.
N. And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed:
? My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.
N. He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter:
? So you had not the strength to keep awake with me one hour? You should be awake, and praying not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
N. Again, a second time, he went away and prayed:
? My Father, if this cup cannot pass by without my drinking it, your will be done!
N. And he came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy. Leaving them there, he went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words. Then he came back to the disciples and said to them,
? You can sleep on now and take your rest. Now the hour has come when the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let us go! My betrayer is already close at hand.
N. He was still speaking when Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared, and with him a large number of men armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. Now the traitor had arranged a sign with them. He had said,
O. ‘The one I kiss, he is the man. Take him in charge.’
N. So he went straight up to Jesus and said,
O. Greetings, Rabbi.
N. and kissed him. Jesus said to him,
? My friend, do what you are here for.
N. Then they came forward, seized Jesus and took him in charge. At that, one of the followers of Jesus grasped his sword and drew it; he struck out at the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. Jesus then said,
? Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to my defence? But then, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this is the way it must be?
N. It was at this time that Jesus said to the crowds,
? Am I a brigand, that you had to set out to capture me with swords and clubs? I sat teaching in the Temple day after day and you never laid hands on me.
N. Now all this happened to fulfil the prophecies in scripture. Then all the disciples deserted him and ran away.
The men who had arrested Jesus led him off to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. Peter followed him at a distance, and when he reached the high priest’s palace, he went in and sat down with the attendants to see what the end would be.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus, however false, on which they might pass the death sentence. But they could not find any, though several lying witnesses came forward. Eventually two stepped forward and made a statement,
O. This man said: ‘I have power to destroy the Temple of God and in three days build it up.’
N. The high priest then stood up and said to him,
O. Have you no answer to that? What is this evidence these men are bringing against you?
N. But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him,
O. I put you on oath by the living God to tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.
N. Jesus answered:
? The words are your own. Moreover, I tell you that from this time onward you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.
N. At this, the high priest tore his clothes and said,
O. He has blasphemed. What need of witnesses have we now? There! You have just heard the blasphemy. What is your opinion?
N. They answered,
C. He deserves to die.
N. Then they spat in his face and hit him with their fists; others said as they struck him,
C. Play the prophet, Christ! Who hit you then?
N. Meanwhile Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came up to him and said,
O. You too were with Jesus the Galilean.
N. But he denied it in front of them all, saying:
O. I do not know what you are talking about.
N. When he went out to the gateway another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there,
O. This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.
N. And again, with an oath, he denied it:
O. I do not know the man.
N. A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter,
C. You are one of them for sure! Why, your accent gives you away.
Then he started calling down curses on himself and swearing:
O. I do not know the man.
N. At that moment the cock crew, and Peter remembered what Jesus had said, ‘Before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people met in council to bring about the death of Jesus. They had him bound, and led him away to hand him over to Pilate, the governor.
When he found that Jesus had been condemned, Judas his betrayer was filled with remorse and took the thirty silver pieces back to the chief priests and elders, saying:
O. I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood.
N. They replied:
C. What is that to us? That is your concern.
N. And flinging down the silver pieces in the sanctuary he made off and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the silver pieces and said,
C. It is against the Law to put this into the treasury: it is blood-money.
N. So they discussed the matter and bought the potter’s field with it as a graveyard for foreigners, and this is why the field is called the Field of Blood today. The words of the prophet Jeremiah were then fulfilled: And they took the thirty silver pieces, the sum at which the precious One was priced by children of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, just as the Lord directed me.
Jesus, then, was brought before the governor, and the governor put to him this question:
O. Are you the king of the Jews?
N. Jesus replied,
? It is you who say it.
N. But when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders he refused to answer at all. Pilate then said to him,
O. Do you not hear how many charges they have brought against you?
N. But to the governor’s complete amazement, he offered no reply to any of the charges.
At festival time it was the governor’s practice to release a prisoner for the people, anyone they chose. Now there was at that time a notorious prisoner whose name was Barabbas. So when the crowd gathered, Pilate said to them,
O. Which do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?
N. For Pilate knew it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. Now as he was seated in the chair of judgement, his wife sent him a message,
O. Have nothing to do with that man; I have been upset all day by a dream I had about him.
N. The chief priests and the elders, however, had persuaded the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus. So when the governor spoke and asked them,
O. Which of the two do you want me to release for you?
N. they said,
C. Barabbas.
N. Pilate said to them:
O. But in that case, what am I to do with Jesus who is called Christ?
N. They all said:
C. Let him be crucified!
N. Pilate asked:
O. Why? What harm has he done?
N. But they shouted all the louder,
C. Let him be crucified!
N. Then Pilate saw that he was making no impression, that in fact a riot was imminent. So he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd and said,
O. I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your concern.
N. And the people, to a man, shouted back,
C. His blood be on us and on our children!
N. Then he released Barabbas for them. He ordered Jesus to be first scourged and then handed over to be crucified.
The governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. Then they stripped him and made him wear a scarlet cloak, and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying,
C. Hail, king of the Jews!
N. And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucify him.
On their way out, they came across a man from Cyrene, Simon by name, and enlisted him to carry his cross. When they had reached a place called Golgotha, that is, the place of the skull, they gave him wine to drink mixed with gall, which he tasted but refused to drink. When they had finished crucifying him they shared out his clothing by casting lots, and then sat down and stayed there keeping guard over him.
Above his head was placed the charge against him; it read: ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’ At the same time two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.
The passers-by jeered at him; they shook their heads and said,
C. So you would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days! Then save yourself! If you are God’s son, come down from the cross!
N. The chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him in the same way, saying:
C. He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He puts his trust in God; now let God rescue him if he wants him. For he did say, ‘I am the son of God.’
N. Even the robbers who were crucified with him taunted him in the same way.
From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
? Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
N. That is, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’ When some of those who stood there heard this, they said,
C. The man is calling on Elijah.
N. and one of them quickly ran to get a sponge which he dipped in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it him to drink. The rest of them said:
C. Wait! See if Elijah will come to save him.
N. But Jesus, again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
At that, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked; the rocks were split; the tombs opened and the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead, and these, after his resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the Holy City and appeared to a number of people. Meanwhile the centurion, together with the others guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place, and they were terrified and said,
C. In truth this was a son of God.
N. And many women were there, watching from a distance, the same women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him. Among them were Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
When it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, called Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate thereupon ordered it to be handed over. So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. Now Mary of Magdala and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre.
Next day, that is, when Preparation Day was over, the chief priests and the Pharisees went in a body to Pilate and said to him,
C. Your Excellency, we recall that this impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I shall rise again.’ Therefore give the order to have the sepulchre kept secure until the third day, for fear his disciples come and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ This last piece of fraud would be worse than what went before.
N. Pilate said to them:
O. You may have your guard. Go and make all as secure as you know how.
N. So they went and made the sepulchre secure, putting seals on the stone and mounting a guard.

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“The Lord God hath opened my ear, and I do not resist: I have not gone back”

For many Christians who are glued to faith, life revolves around hope and the necessity for salvation. The exigency in hope is plumbed on the walls of reality in contending with resistance against faith and lifting of the cross to follow Christ.

For many years, my brother shared  some form of strangely blended relationships — working in a central northern state in Nigeria, living within a core Muslim community, far out of consonance with our Christian faith; he was worried because of the too oft agitations of religious conflicts and attacks against Christians. And yet he soldiered on as a dedicated Christian; the indication to that accommodation for confidence — resilience built on a strong, moral concrete base with his ears of faith opened, and listening to the Church teachings on sacrifice and suffering for the sake of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are in a trying period in the world today and the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us that having a share in the sufferings of Christ is a guarantee of relief and happiness when his glory is revealed. The footsteps of Christ through the path of his death, resurrection and glory bring the assurance that any suffering that promotes Christ’s glory is temporary because the fulfilment of the reward is assured.

(Today’s Oxygen by Julius Otusorochukwu Dike)

Prayer: Lord, you own this world; help us to see sufferings and persecutions for Christ’s sake as awaiting rewards of glory that would come at your time of fulfilment. Support us with your faith and confidence. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, you exist everywhere in time and space, thank you for sustaining and helping us to live in hope because we believe in you. Amen.

4 April, Saturday – Love Hurts

4 April 2020

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Ezekiel 37:21-28 

The Lord says this: ‘I am going to take the sons of Israel from the nations where they have gone. I shall gather them together from everywhere and bring them home to their own soil. I shall make them into one nation in my own land and on the mountains of Israel, and one king is to be king of them all; they will no longer form two nations, nor be two separate kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and their filthy practices and all their sins. I shall rescue them from all the betrayals they have been guilty of; I shall cleanse them; they shall be my people and I will be their God. My servant David will reign over them, one shepherd for all; they will follow my observances, respect my laws and practise them. They will live in the land that I gave my servant Jacob, the land in which your ancestors lived. They will live in it, they, their children, their children’s children, for ever. David my servant is to be their prince for ever. I shall make a covenant of peace with them, an eternal covenant with them. I shall resettle them and increase them; I shall settle my sanctuary among them for ever. I shall make my home above them; I will be their God, they shall be my people. And the nations will learn that I am the Lord, the sanctifier of Israel, when my sanctuary is with them for ever.’

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John 11:45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did believed in him, but some of them went to tell the Pharisees what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting. ‘Here is this man working all these signs’ they said ‘and what action are we taking? If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy the Holy Place and our nation.’ One of them, Caiaphas, the high priest that year, said, ‘You do not seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see that it is better for one man to die for the people, than for the whole nation to be destroyed.’ He did not speak in his own person, it was as high priest that he made this prophecy that Jesus was to die for the nation – and not for the nation only, but to gather together in unity the scattered children of God. From that day they were determined to kill him. So Jesus no longer went about openly among the Jews, but left the district for a town called Ephraim, in the country bordering on the desert, and stayed there with his disciples.

The Jewish Passover drew near, and many of the country people who had gone up to Jerusalem to purify themselves looked out for Jesus, saying to one another as they stood about in the Temple, ‘What do you think? Will he come to the festival or not?’

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…it is better for one man to die for the people…

“Love is sacrifice.” It is a cliché but nowadays there are only few people who believe in that. Many Gen Z’s (not all) no longer believe that there is sacrifice in love. They have a loose grasp of that concept, thinking that if it hurts, then it is not love at all. Love, for them, is the number of love reactions they received on social media. Many of them do not want to hear what the Bible says about love. If they are in a relationship, they tend to easily break it off whenever they experience things that do not go their way. They do not like situations that make their life challenging. They do not like to make sacrifices.

Because of the current pandemic situation, lots of memes can be seen on social media. One of the best memes that I saw was, “Stay at home, because we stay at work for you.” It is simple, yet meaningful.  Staying at home is one of the solutions to control the spread of virus. For many people (not all), staying at home is a sacrifice because for them, it is boring. They are not free to hang around the mall or other crowded places. For those who are working as pay-per-work, it is also a sacrifice because it means that throughout the quarantine period, they will have no source of income. Hopefully, they would be able to surpass this difficulty. Coming from the point of view of our front-liners, for me it is a great example of their love. Love for their neighbour. They choose to come to work and not give any excuses to stay at home and be with their family. They stand there to see and interact with strangers exposing themselves to the virus. They put their life on the line for the benefit of the majority. With so many people (some are stubborn), they skip meals, they lack sleep, they are overworked, and some have passed away while trying to save others.

These front-liners may or may not believe in God. But they are living the Word of God. What we are experiencing right now is incomparable to what Jesus did to save us. But similarly, the sacrifices made are still not enough and not appreciated by some. Quoting Romans 8:18 “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”

 (Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Amen.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Father God, for your mercy and forgiveness. Thank you for the love and sacrifices of our front-liners in this COVID-19 pandemic.  Amen.

3 April, Friday – At Your Service

3 April 2020

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Jeremiah 20:10-13

Jeremiah said:

I hear so many disparaging me,
‘“Terror from every side!”
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’
All those who used to be my friends
watched for my downfall,
‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error.
Then we will master him
and take our revenge!’
But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero;
my opponents will stumble, mastered,
confounded by their failure;
everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.
But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice,
who scrutinise the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
Sing to the Lord,
praise the Lord,
for he has delivered the soul of the needy
from the hands of evil men.

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John 10:31-42

The Jews fetched stones to stone him, so Jesus said to them, ‘I have done many good works for you to see, works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?’ The Jews answered him, ‘We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God.’ Jesus answered:

‘Is it not written in your Law:
I said, you are gods?
So the Law uses the word gods
of those to whom the word of God was addressed,
and scripture cannot be rejected.
Yet you say to someone the Father has consecrated and sent into the world,
“You are blaspheming,”
because he says, “I am the son of God.”
If I am not doing my Father’s work,
there is no need to believe me;
but if I am doing it,
then even if you refuse to believe in me,
at least believe in the work I do;
then you will know for sure

that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’

They wanted to arrest him then, but he eluded them.

He went back again to the far side of the Jordan to stay in the district where John had once been baptising. Many people who came to him there said, ‘John gave no signs, but all he said about this man was true’; and many of them believed in him.

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At least believe in the work I do; then you will know for sure that the Father is in me and I am in the Father

Amid our current pandemic situation, if someone does good deeds, others will comment that it is hypocrisy. If someone shows indifference, others will comment that they are worthless. It is true that we cannot please everybody. Our life must not be dependent on the appreciation of others. But we are working like that. We show up to work on time to let the people know we are responsible. We submit efficient works to let others know that we are reliable. Now that we are on quarantine, we try to do as much housework or ‘work from home’ tasks as we can to let others know we are dependable. We do things to please other people. But it is not how it should be. Yes, it is very impressive that we are capable of doing great things. But can we just be alright with just ‘doing great things’ and remove the part ‘to let others know’?

As Catholics and believers of Christ, we wholeheartedly do our best to follow Christ and live His word. Easier said and done, because our modernity is a source of increasing temptation that leads us to stray away from Christ.

Let us ask ourselves, “Should we wait for our deathbed before we want to do good deeds or ask for forgiveness?” Some of us are on quarantine and most of us are living with our families. Let us take this as an opportunity to converse with them. Let us put our phones down and have a decent meal together. Yes, we need our phones to be updated on the latest events. But it can wait. Use the social distancing time to ‘re-learn’ about your family members. We may realize that our family members have changed or there could be the ‘aha’ moment when we realize that it seems it is only now that we get to know them better. Talk to them about anything. It is a simple way of reaching out to them. Some of them might not like the idea of being inside the house for the time being. Let them feel at ease because they are with their family. They are your family, you know them best. In that way, we are being used as tools in sharing the good works of Christ.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please grant us the grace to see the goodness in others and to show goodness as well. Amen.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Father God, for the people who heed the call to be of service during this COVID-19 pandemic.  Amen.

2 April, Thursday – To Eternity and Beyond

2 April 2020

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Genesis 17:3-9

Abram bowed to the ground and God said this to him, ‘Here now is my covenant with you: you shall become the father of a multitude of nations. You shall no longer be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I make you father of a multitude of nations. I will make you most fruitful. I will make you into nations, and your issue shall be kings. I will establish my Covenant between myself and you, and your descendants after you, generation after generation, a Covenant in perpetuity, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land you are living in, the whole land of Canaan, to own in perpetuity, and I will be your God.’

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John 8:51-59

Jesus said to the Jews:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
whoever keeps my word
will never see death.’
The Jews said, ‘Now we know for certain that you are possessed. Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, and yet you say, “Whoever keeps my word will never know the taste of death.” Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The prophets are dead too. Who are you claiming to be?’ Jesus answered:
‘If I were to seek my own glory
that would be no glory at all;
my glory is conferred by the Father,
by the one of whom you say, “He is our God”
although you do not know him.
But I know him,
and if I were to say: I do not know him,
I should be a liar, as you are liars yourselves.
But I do know him, and I faithfully keep his word.
Your father Abraham rejoiced
to think that he would see my Day;
he saw it and was glad.’
The Jews then said, ‘You are not fifty yet, and you have seen Abraham!’ Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
before Abraham ever was,
I Am.’
At this they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.

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…I tell you most solemnly, whoever keeps my word will never see death…

Every day, the death toll and persons under monitoring and investigation continue to rise because of COVID-19. If a non-believer would read the verse, “I tell you most solemnly, whoever keeps my word will never see death,” that person would probably curse infinitely. Even believers’ hearts may falter because of what is happening in the world. Those with colds, cough, sore throat, body ache, fever, pneumonia, difficulty in breathing, and other pains are suspected of having COVID-19. Indeed, many have recovered but many have died. By the looks of them in social media, they are really suffering.  Even medical personnel are dying because they have acquired the virus. For us as believers, let us ask ourselves, “With our current situation, how are we supposed to reach out to others and tell them to keep the word of God and they will never see death.” Some people would treat this as a literal death.  They do not have the sense of ‘spiritual death’. Especially this time when everyone is panicking and a lot of people are dying each day.

There is much speculation about this current pandemic. No matter how convincing those sound, we must pray to God to keep our faith stronger.

Most of us are in quarantine and even though we are inside our house, we can reach out to others. We can show them that as Catholics, we are not hypocrites. There will be many bashers, but it is worth it.  As an individual with the resources and a strong immune system, you can look for areas near your place to donate food and other basic necessities. If you know someone who plans to do that, you can help in any way you can, even just as re-packers of the goods. If you cannot go out and you have resources, you can help financially. There are a lot of legitimate organisations who help people in need, especially during this time. We can also help in promoting good vibes in social media by liking and sharing positive memes and posts.

In times like this, let us remember the Passion of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ shoulders all our sins and saved us. He died, was buried, and resurrected. We must continue to have faith that after death awaits the eternal life. We must hold on that we will see the light after our sufferings. This too shall pass and through Jesus Christ, we will overcome this pandemic.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, I am deeply sorry for all my shortcomings. Please help our sick brethren, especially those who are suffering with COVID-19. We beg you to give us good health always. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Father God, thank You for all the blessings that we receive despite the current pandemic. Thank you for all the people who are doing their best to control the spread of COVID-19. Amen.